Month: March 2018

Yes Virginia, There really is a Barnes & Noble at One Loudoun

Bookstores…archaic? Think again. A place like Barnes & Noble isn’t just there for the books. It’s the Tiffany’s to Holly Golightly, the Oz to Dorothy, the open water to Jaws. It’s a place that makes you feel like it was created just for you and yet somehow, all different types of people belong there, just like the many genres winding throughout the store.

Not only is the Barnes & Noble at One Loudoun brand new, but it’s different from any other location. It’s a mixture between a trendy café, bookstore, and the most popular corner of your college library.

When we entered the store, we bee-lined straight to the café in desperate need of caffeine and there’s no better sign of good coffee than the glorious green glow and signature Starbucks siren on the wall. After we ordered some Bucky’s (you can thank my dad for that nickname), we also decided to dabble in the food menu.

The menu items are carefully selected and there is something for everyone on it – think a cheese board, salads, soups, sandwiches, etc. The coolest part of the café menu isn’t really even the food, but the fact that the Barnes & Noble chef is Harrison Ford’s son, Ben Ford. SO, you’re really eating at a celebrity café! We ordered the tomato soup (highly recommended from a friend) and the heirloom tomato salad. Both were great, both were fresh and delicious, and both heightened our Barnes & Noble experience tenfold (although it also could have just been the caffeine).

Barnes & Noble Cafe - Soup and Salad

There was also a bar attached to the opposite side of the Starbucks counter, where we observed a group of friends presumably studying. They had a bunch of notebooks sprawled out and each had an adult beverage in front of them. Hey – if you’re going to work on the weekends, why not make it a little interesting? The bar, which by the way is a new addition to Barnes & Noble, has a nice selection of wines, beers, and ciders sure to please all.

Barnes & Noble - Cookbooks

By the pure force of B&N, I went into the store craving a new cook book. Envisioning one with a rainbow-colored salad or anything with avocado on the cover (yes, I am trying to be trendy), I set out for the cooking section. Browsing – OOH maybe this one! Browsing some more – but this one would look GREAT on my cookbook stand. Browsing browsing browsing – (insert celebrity here) uses this one, so I obviously need it.

Confession time: Not only did I leave with a cookbook that I’m sure will put me on the path to my own Food Network show, but I also left with a record. Guess what? I don’t even own a record player, but I couldn’t resist because records are back baby! The sound is incomparable and the nostalgia is overwhelming. The moral of the story being, you may go into Barnes & Noble wanting one thing, and walk out with something totally different, or multiple things that you didn’t even know you could purchase there. Guess it’s time to purchase a record player.

There are many unique features in this store, and what makes it even better is the open layout. Where Barnes & Noble stores from back in the day were more closed and sectioned off from one another, this store is an open book (see what I did there?). There was a cool kid’s corner with bright colors, mini chairs, a Lego table, and all of the children’s books you could dream of. For anyone who is curious, yes, they still sell the classics that you remember as a child like Rainbowfish and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (I spent about 5 minutes reminiscing in the children’s section). There’s also a full Harry Potter display featuring books, games, toys, and anything you could think of that involves the magical series.

Admittedly, I hadn’t been to a book store in a long time – what with audiobooks, podcasts, and Netflix to keep me entertained. Walking into the Barnes & Noble at One Loudoun for the first time gave me an overwhelming feeling of something I used to love, and have now rediscovered. It seemed like I wasn’t the only one with this feeling since all of the seating throughout the store was taken when I tried to get a studious photo of myself amongst the stacks. Nothing beats the feeling of picking up a book, smelling the freshly printed pages, and seeing the progress made as you read your way through it whilst sipping a cup of joe, a nice cabernet, or IPA. But hey – don’t take my word for it, visit for yourself!

20427 Exchange St, Ashburn, VA 20147
(571) 298-8729
barnesandnoble.com

And the Oscar Goes to…The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema!

Alamo - Logo and Movie Poster

The speeches, the wardrobes, the celebrity interactions — I don’t know about you, but I am completely exhausted on this post-Oscars Monday. Anyone who knows me knows that I need to see as many movies as I can before the show so that I can ooh, ahh, and be shocked by the “snubs”. More importantly, it eliminates FOMO (um..Fear of Missing Out of course!). This time, I decided to go to The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema for the first time ever. I’ve since decided that all past and future movie-going experiences are now ruined unless I go to the Alamo.

The Alamo - Cheers at Glass Half Full

You know how it goes, dinner, drinks, and a movie. Here’s the thing. The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is all three of these in one – think the date night trifecta. Eat dinner, sip on a brewski, and watch the highly anticipated rom-com that your significant other swears will be amazing, all at once. It’s like a movie theater for celebrities and fancy people, but in reality, anyone can go. It’s not like a regular theater, it’s a cool theater (winks and walks away).

We walked into the entrance of the theater and immediately noticed the high ceilings that opened up into a room with high-top tables and shiny booth seating around the perimeter. The deep red fan-patterned wallpaper and brightly lit Alamo marquee gave off strong vintage vibes like we were going to watch a “film” in the 1930s and I should have been wearing a feather boa.

Even though the main room reminded me of an old school Nickelodeon, rounding the corner we spotted the Glass Half Full – a full service bar inside the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema that gives the space a more modern feel. When we entered the bar, the bartender, Michael, was happy to answer our annoyingly long list of questions and also serve us one of the recommended 32 beers they had on draught.

The low down:
There is a full food menu (with some award-winning items) and a full-service bar which are both accessible to you from the Glass Half Full OR your seat inside the theater (keep reading, will explain). So, we each ordered one beer from Glass Half Full and walked from the bar into our theater, which almost felt like we were breaking an open container law somewhere. We were there to see The Post, which I was excited about because it stars two of my all-time favorite actors.

The way it works:
When you get to your seat (PSST you can reserve it!), there is a long skinny table that goes across the aisle. There are slots underneath of the table with menus, and on top are order sheets and pens. Find what you want (no judgement if you go for a milkshake AND cookies), write it on the order slip, put the slip in the slot in front of you, and VOILA.

The servers at the Alamo have been trained to be speedy or “ninja-like” as they describe. They grab your order slip when they see it in the slot, and bring out your order a few minutes later. The menu isn’t just typical movie-theater fare. We are talking pizzas, apps, sandwiches, salads, and even devoted sections to milkshakes and hotdogs. A movie theater after my own heart! It’s like a delicious drive-thru restaurant and movie theater all in one.

This is the cream of the crop when it comes to movie theaters. Think about it! If your kids want to go see a movie that just looks plain awful, at least you will have a beverage in hand and the option to make a delicious meal out of it. As it was in the beginning (cue dramatic music), the Alamo allows for every movie-goer to become completely immersed in the movie without cell phones and other distractions. If you even think about taking your phone out to text, you might as well be saying “Bye Felicia!” to watching the rest of the film.

The Alamo - Menu and Crowd

Though “The Post” didn’t win the award for Best Picture, I thoroughly enjoyed my true “movie-goer” experience at the Alamo. The truth is, I’ve been spoiled and it’s ok because I’m worth it and so are you! So, the next time you are dying to see a movie, don’t settle on stale popcorn accompanied by noisy teenagers in the row in front of you. Opt for the big winner when it comes to a luxury cinema experience!