The Sci-fi and Fantasy Book Club Message Board › New Venue for Book Discussions

New Venue for Book Discussions

Group Organizer
Fairfax, VA
Post #: 729
After 2.5 years of holding our book discussions at Grounded Coffee, we've been asked to discontinue using them as a venue for our book discussions. I know many of us have fond (and hilarious) memories from our times there, but I'm looking forward to finding a new venue that we can all enjoy and build a relationship with. In order to do that, though, we need your help and input. Our basic criteria for a venue are:
  • Open on Sundays (ideally from 10am-3pm at a minimum)
  • Low to moderate noise level, so we can hear each other without having to raise voices too much
  • A space in which we can form a circle or semi-circle (rather than a long table setup where it's impossible to hear or see what's happening on the other end)
  • Geographically located in Alexandria, Springfield, Burke, Annandale, Eastern Fairfax, or Vienna areas. The bulk of our membership is concentrated in that region.
  • Free and available parking
  • It would be NICE, but is not essential, that the venue serve food and coffee/drinks. If not, we can get creative on this point.

Please use this thread to add your ideas and suggestions for new venues here, and ask any questions or voice any comments on the topic. And please get creative and think outside the box. We're willing to entertain all suggestions, not just coffee shops and such. Thank you for your patience while we find a new home!
Springfield, VA
Post #: 102
I've already mentioned this to Vijay, but to have it on the record, and so there is no duplication of effort - I went to Lucky's Sports Theatre & Grill - 7027 B. Manchester Blvd. - which is at the corner of Beulah and Franconia/Springfield Parkway//Manchester Rd - in the same shopping plaza as a local Used Book store, "The Book Rack", and Shopper's Food Warehouse...just down the street from the Kingstowne check it out.

I spoke with the managers, and they are willing to zone-off the back section of the family dining area (not the smoke-filled Sports bar section!), and to allow separate checks. Vijay has the contact info for follow-up.

ADDENDUM: Lucky's is about 3-5 minutes from Grounded (which is farther, from Amelia's direction).
A former member
Post #: 1
Panera in Fairfax has free public parking in a covered garage, lots of space, and quiet enough so all can be heard. I already meet with another bookclub there and it works great.
A former member
Post #: 1
I am sure to be biased--I just joined this group and was super excited at the opportunity to meet with a group of smart and like-minded folks near me. Unfortunately, I'm in Fort Washington, MD--close enough to Alexandria and Springfield, but pretty far from Vienna, Falls Church, Fairfax or Burke.

So, I thought I'd throw out a few possibilities in Alexandria:

St. Elmo's Coffee Pub in Del Ray: http://stelmoscoffeep...­

Best Buns Bread Company in Shirlington: http://www.greatameri...­

Buzz Bakery and Coffee in either Alexandria or Ballston: http://www.buzzbakery...­

and, a little farther afield:

Northside Social Coffee and Wine: http://northsidesocia...­
Constance B.
user 19108511
Laurel, MD
Post #: 2
I wanted to throw out the Alley Cat Restaurent. Here's the address: 2 South Whiting St - Alexandria, Virginia 22304. It's right across from the landmark mall and metroable (which is my biggest concern)
Amelia D.
user 4464257
Leonardtown, MD
Post #: 22
Yep, I'm going to be that person with an opinion but no suggestions. And I agree with Marcella - I'm coming in from even further out than Ft. Washington, and the only reason I even considered this group originally was because Alexandria was in my "drivable" range. My general rule is:

round trip travel time <= event time

I'm 1hr 20min from Grounded, 1hr 30-35min from the Panera on Rolling Rd, and generally consider book discussion to be about 3hrs adding in chatting before and after. If we push out much farther than Springfield for the regular discussion, I'm really going to be hard pressed to keep coming. Further is usually OK for evening events/movies, etc., since the events are usually longer.

Unfortunatly, since we meet so far from where I live, I really don't have any useful suggestions to offer. I like the idea of being closer to Metro (as long as there is still decent parking for those of us coming from outside Metro range).
Caroline C.
user 12462145
Alexandria, VA
Post #: 3
I love the Shirlington suggestions. Shirlington isn't metro train accessible, but does have a lot of bus service directly from Pentagon City and Crystal City, and there are a couple of parking garages, and it's right off of 395. It's also bike trail accessible, just at the end of the WO&D trail. Technically, it's in Arlington, but Alexandria's just on the other side of 395.
user 12300999
Alexandria, VA
Post #: 11
I'm going to thumbs down the two suggestions made earlier pointing to either Buzz Bakeries or St Elmo's. I've been to all those places more than once, and they are not large enough to host the size of our book discussions PLUS other customers. They are, however, all great coffee shops!

I can thumbs up anything in Shirlington or Crystal City, since I'll be living near there. Something in Crystal City sounds like a good bet because it's near a metro. Amelia can park at Eisenhower Avenue (ample parking, free on weekends, same metro line as Crystal City) and take the metro, for example.

I noticed there's a Caribou Coffee in Crystal City. I called the store and talked to the manager (Heather). She sounded really friendly (and happy about a scifi/fantasy book club meeting there, since she also likes scifi/fantasy books). I described our situation. She said they have meetups there all the time since it's a nice location, near restaurants, metro, and parks, and they do have free parking on Sundays. She said she would reserve space in the shop for our meetup, and having a morning and afternoon session would be fine, but they do tend to be busy on Sundays. She said 20 people is probably the maximum she can accommodate from our book club at once. She said they definitely have enough tables, but she's not sure they'd have enough chairs. If we brought our own chairs (like camp chairs) she said there would be no problem with us meeting there. There is also space outside (right outside the window) that is still part of caribou coffee we could also use. They're open 8am-5pm on Sundays. If you want to contact her again, their number is 703-414-0990 and we should talk to either Heather or Tamra.
Samuel L.
Rockville, MD
Post #: 32
Seems like a number of us are coming in from the north. Maybe instead of having a morning meeting and an afternoon meeting in the same location, we might want to consider VA and MD meetings? Or would that get even more confusing?
Group Organizer
Fairfax, VA
Post #: 761
Hi, everyone! Thank you for all the suggestions, and please keep them coming.

In terms of how we're going to approach this, over the next few months (hopefully less), we'll be trying out new venues to see what's a good fit for the group. My hope is that whatever we change to is the least disruptive to the group as possible, so we'll start by trying out venues closest to Grounded that don't require major modifications to our meeting times, and then work out from there until we find the right place for us.

For the foreseeable future, we don't intend to split the discussions across two venues, both because it would be a lot more complicated and hectic to run and because at that point, we'd start to effectively become 2 separate geographic groups under a loose umbrella rather than a cohesive community.

Thanks, and please keep chiming in with suggestions and opinions as you think of them.
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