A place that feels like home, a place to get away


My name is Tony. Some people call me Downtown Tony. A nickname isn’t a nickname if you give it to yourself, which is why I especially like this one. It means that people know what I’m interested in and passionate about.

Today, I’d like to tell you about something else that I’m very interested in and passionate about. It’s a place where I hope conversations will happen, relationships will grow, business will be done, and the community with gather. A place that feels like home, but also a place to get away. The place is Urban Alchemy Coffee + Wine Bar, and it’s the culmination of about a year’s worth of dreaming, planning, and ultimately, delivering. Here’s how it all began…

Around Christmas 2015, my wife Nicole and I were daydreaming about our future. We’d been living with her parents for several months. They had graciously offered their home to us when our house sold quickly, as we searched for something a little larger, now that our family had grown to five with the addition of our baby girl, Chloe.

Meanwhile, my work as “head cheerleader” for the Downtown Arlington Management Corporation was going like gangbusters. New businesses and projects were growing at an exponential rate, and I was very proud of the success we were having and blessed to work with so many who went after their dreams and succeeded.

It seemed that with each success in downtown, Arlington’s community spirit became more robust and contagious. I was completely inspired. While I had fallen in love with Arlington in 2005 when I began working for Mayor Cluck, my love for Arlington had now reached a newer, deeper level. I felt compelled to put my proverbial “money where my mouth is” and personally contribute to the growing sense of place.

Maybe I’d developed something of an entrepreneurial spirit, or maybe it was God nudging me. Whatever it was, it revealed itself intensely and persistently. So on that December evening, I proclaimed, “I think we should open a wine bar,” to which my wife replied, “Oh, that sounds fun.”

Nicole and I love wine. We’d honeymooned in Napa, and while we aren’t experts, we love the wonderful flavors and variations that are grown around the world. We also love the way wine can bring people together.

Little did she know that I would take this opportunity to hit the ground running. A few months passed, and I reported progress on the wine bar. She responded, “Wait... what? Are you serious?”

My wife is an engineer. A dam engineer. Her entire job is to eliminate risk and keep people safe. The idea of opening a business – something new and unknown - was a scary proposition. Frankly, it’s a scary thing for anyone.

Eventually, of course, facts have overcome fear, and today we’re launching the website and social media channels for Urban Alchemy Coffee + Wine Bar.

There are several aspects of this endeavor that really excite me. My passion for community, the opportunity to foster stronger connections, and the physical contribution to creating a sense of place are very important to me. Most of all, I want to build something that will sustain my family and the team members we’ll hire, and something that gives back to the community that has given so much to me.  

In the blog posts that follow, I’ll share this journey with you. I’ll post about the highs and the lows and everything in between. I’m excited to see how this story unfolds, and I hope you’ll join me on the ride.

Next up: Naming your startup is like naming your child