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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Taste of Annandale participants offer feedback on Annandale

Matthew Ashford and Judy Cotter at the Annandale Blog man the table at the Taste of Annandale.
The Annandale Blog booth at the Taste of Annandale asked visitors to fill out a brief one-page survey.

The results aren’t scientific, of course, and not many people took the time to take a survey when there was so much else going on. But the responses do offer some interesting feedback on Annandale and the community festival. (See if you can spot the joke answers.)

The responses to the question “Is Annandale getting better or worse?” were overwhelmingly positive. Eight people said Annandale is better, and two said worse.

In response to the open-ended follow-up question, “why,” the people who thought Annandale is improving said:
  • It is growing but it’s still like a small-town.
  • It’s wonderfully diverse; the sense of community is growing.
  • Diversity, growth, and bike lanes.
  • More vibrant, new businesses moving in.
  • More emphasis on improving pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.
Those who think Annandale is getting worse said:
  • Places are going out of business and there seems to be more crime.
  • Businesses leave and aren’t replaced.  
  • There’s an increase in litter and fast drivers speeding through neighborhoods.
Other people said they couldn’t decide whether Annandale is better or worse. “It’s always changing with the times,” one respondent said. Another said, “It’s certainly gotten more interesting/diverse over the last 40 years.”
When asked what changes they would like to see in Annandale, respondents had lots of ideas:
  • Less of a strip mall look. 
  • Postal delivery is unreliable – mail carriers drop mail outside the box.
  • Take better care of parks and common areas, improve landscaping and beautification.
  • Attract businesses to the shopping plaza on Columbia Pike.
  • More Korean BBQ, current options insufficient.
  • Take better care of roads.
  • Improve walkability and bicycle facilities. 
  • Roads need to be fixed.
  • Another grocery store.
  • Facelifts for buildings.
  • No scrolling neon signs.
The survey asked people to name their favorite restaurant in Annandale. Surprisingly, the Juke Box Diner was mentioned five times. Silverado got four mentions. Yechon and Imm Thai Cuisine were each cited twice.

These restaurants were also listed by a respondent, although a few are on the outskirts of Annandale: Al Hamra, Casa d’Mama, Dain Café, Dama, Il Mee Buffet, Ju Mak Jib, Kabob Palace, Shiney’s, Sweetwater Tavern, Taco Bell, Thai Food, To Sok Chon, and Tofu Lighthouse.

Other people were less specific, answering with “Korean BBQ” and “the Korean restaurants on Columbia Pike.”

When asked to identify their favorite store in Annandale, here’s what people answered: Giant (mentioned three times), Treasure Trove (twice), AnnSandra, Auntie Te’s, Beanetics, Dollar Tree, Lambros Goldsmiths, Lotte Plaza Market, Safeway, Title Max, and “the shoe repair place.”

Another open-ended question asked, “If there’s another Taste of Annandale, how can it be improved?” Here’s what people wrote down:
  • No address on the flyer – couldn’t find it.
  • Free samples, bigger, louder, better entertainment, radio station presence, TV coverage.
  • Better weather.
  • Keep some chili around all day.
  • Improve the 5K.
  • Fitness/gym participation.
  • “Where is the American Legion?”
  • More vendors.
  • A place with more trees.
  • More events reflecting Annandale’s diversity.
  • More fun activities, like interactive games.
  • More restaurants.
  • More tables and chairs.
  • Have restaurants offer samples or smaller servings – “We want to try it all.”
  • Move it to Arlington. 
Finally, the survey asked people how they heard about the Taste of Annandale. The vast majority said the Annandale Blog. Others cited Facebook, Nextdoor, a flyer in a local restaurant, the banner on Columbia Pike, Annandale United Methodist Church, their civic association, and a nonprofit organization.


  1. Whoever thinks Annandale feels like a small town has probably never lived in one.

  2. This, yes: "Have restaurants offer samples or smaller servings – 'We want to try it all.'"

  3. I'm from a small town and I love Annandale. My neighbors are awesome, I have a wonderful yard for my kids to play in, tree lined streets for walks, and I'm 20 min from my office. I'm not a huge fan of Korean BBQ, but visitors always beg to eat there. I love the church chimes in the afternoon, it really makes it feel like a community.

  4. I love my neighborhood in Annandale and like how centrally located it is. However, "downtown" Annandale is ugly and depressing. The fact of the matter is young professionals who have the level of income to afford a house in Annandale at today's market value want better restaurants than Juke Box Diner and Silverado, a nice gym that actually can pay it's rent, Target instead of a run down KMart, a grocery store that's nicer than Giant, and bars that don't smell like old beer and cigarettes. I realize that this used to me a middle class town, but it's not anymore.

    1. Yeah but I also like cheap bars where the owner knows everyone's name and buys my kid free quesadillas, a cheaper and convenient grocery store, and a greasy diner. I got nothing nice to say about Kmart though.

    2. Golds gym is also right down the street and decent enough.

    3. Agree that a gym closer to the "town center" area would be nice. A few decent fast casual places (Cava Grill, Chipotle), and a cohesive plan for the town center would be nice. And bike lanes on 236.

  5. "Title Max" As a favorite-- ha ha! Seriously, Chicken Pollo is a great place for carry out, even though it's not "upscale.". The Aldi going in will be a good addition but some more upscale stores & restaurants would be nice. The K Mart doesn't seem so bad to me though. Loved the pop up park. More little free samples would help. If it's too expensive for the restaurants, have people buy tickets for a certain number of "tastes." Loved the performances. Hope there are even more participants next year. Would be good to know of ways we can help get the word out to not only locals but folks in other jurisdictions to encourage them to support our local establishments. One thing I like is our proportion of "mom and pop" stores vs. giant chain stores & restaurants.