A smile and a joke greeted the customers who walked through the doors of Lake Anne Coffee Shop in the past seven years. More often than not, their order was being prepared before they got a chance to order it. At the expense of the regulars' gloom, the owners of the shop, Alfredo and Rocio Melendez, have decided to move on.
"Thank you for being my family," said Alfredo Melendez, as he addressed the friends of the coffee house who gathered for a farewell party on Sunday night. "My children grew up here with you," he said in a speech that varied from humorous to emotional.
During the party, which featured food, drinks and live music, Sandra Reichert of the Fairfax County Park Authority presented Alfredo and Rocio Melendez with a plaque recognizing their hard work in helping set up and operate the Lake Anne farmer's market. John Lovaas, a Lake Anne resident, presented another congratulatory plaque, on behalf of the coffee shop's friends and neighbors.
"Some seven years ago, this was a quiet place, then Alfredo and Rocio came in and made a wonderful thing happen," said Lovaas as he handed the plaque to Rocio Melendez.
OTHER LAKE ANNE and Reston residents addressed the party on Sunday night, too. Patrick Kane said that he bought his first house in Reston at the site of the coffee house, 40 years ago. Joe Stowers told the couple to come back often. The interaction between the former owners of the shop and those who attended the farewell party proved that Alfredo and Rocio Melendez ran their shop with personal attention towards their customers. They greeted each of the guests on a first-name basis, and exchanged informal jokes with them.
Bob and Edie McMillan said they came to the Lake Anne Coffee House every Saturday morning. "When our grandkids come to visit, they say, 'When are we going to Alfredo's,'" said Edie McMillan.
"They're not just customers," said Alfredo Melendez, pointing to a lively group of people at the party. "See that little girl there, as soon as she got old enough I took her to the back room and taught her how to do hot chocolate," said Alfredo Melendez.
While Rocio Melendez said she was happy to be selling the coffee shop, which requires a strenuous amount of work, Alfredo Melendez said he would probably miss the action. "I think the first week will be hell," he said about adjusting to no longer working seven days a week, 16 hours a day. "But I've had my share of the restaurant business," he added. Alfredo Melendez said he and his family — Rocio, daughter Karina, and two sons Jonathan and Ricardo — will still remain in the Reston area, at least a part of the year.
SUNDAY NIGHT'S party was not only a farewell to a couple that owned the coffee shop many have grown to love, but it was also an introduction to Jimmy and Susan Sohn, the new owners of the shop. In introducing them to the party, Alfredo Melendez said they were hard-working people, who will continue the legacy of a neighborhood coffee shop. "Jimmy and Susan will take care of you in the future," said Alfredo Melendez.
Jimmy Sohn said he was excited to be taking over the business. A Great Falls resident for the last 15 years, Jimmy Sohn recently moved to Reston. He said Alfredo and Rocio Melendez worked hard for the whole neighborhood, and he hopes to continue doing the same. He said the Lake Anne Coffee Shop will continue to offer a similar menu to the existing one, but that he will introduce a few changes, such as bubble tea.
The ownership of the Lake Anne Coffee Shop will transfer on Wednesday.