Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap, located in Alexandria, Va., has created a space that evolves with the seasons. The Loft at Lena’s, an experience within the restaurant, debuted its fourth iteration in November, Velvet & Rye, a holiday-themed spin on an intimate 1920’s-era jazz club.
In just five days, The Loft was transformed from an ocean-inspired summer retreat to a moody, opulent space that focuses on classic cocktails and late fall menu flavors.
"The transformation process is incredibly fast-paced and labor-intensive, but it's all worth it when we see the look on our guests' faces when the elevator opens," says Jason Yates, owner of Lena's. "The last year has been challenging for our community, and we've been thrilled to bring a little bit of delight, whimsy and escapism to the community with each iteration of The Loft at Lena's." The Yates family partnered with Katie Kirby from REVOLUTION to develop and design each new concept.
At Velvet & Rye, warm, glowing lighting reveals a dramatic Grand Salon immersed in the luxury of lush velvet banquettes, flowing curtains and gleaming gold accents. Rich, jewel-toned Art Deco patterns wrap the walls and elegant crystal chandeliers drape from the ceiling.
True to the era, the Velvet & Rye experience menu features hand-crafted, classic cocktails including a Plum Bourbon Smash, Earl Grey Old Fashioned, and the Velvet & Rye Smoked Manhattan. The dinner menu highlights some seasonal additions including an Apple & Butternut Squash Soup topped with creme fraiche, pumpkin seed oil, and pistachio; Spicy Honey Pork Belly starter with toasted pistachios and spicy calabrese honey; and a Grilled Lamb Chops entree with charred broccolini, pine nuts and gremolata. To complete the dining experience, Velvet & Rye will showcase live local jazz on Thursday nights.
Velvet & Rye is the fourth concept that has transformed the space at The Loft at Lena's. Previous iterations included Winter Lodge, which debuted in December 2020; Full Bloom, a spring concept with an abundance of vibrant flowers that drew a record number of diners to the space; and, most recently, Oceans 21, which drew inspiration from the breathtaking and serene coasts of the Northeast.
In addition to The Loft at Lena's experience, Lena's is also home to Lena's Oasis, a tented tropical retreat, and Lena's Beer Garden and Tap Room, Lena's original restaurant space and outdoor beer garden that includes a fire pit and heaters.