Zandra’s Taqueria

Zandra’s Taqueria in Manassas is looking to make the most of a bad situation.

The popular Old Town restaurant is planning to add a roof deck, complete with a full-service bar, to the top of its building.

Rather than reopening its indoor dining room at limited capacity, as is now allowed under the state’s reopening guidelines, owner Miguel Pires has decided to maintain kitchen operations for take-out and delivery while gutting the inside of the 116-year-old building to allow for the addition on top. There will also be a covered staircase added to the exterior of the building.

Last month, the city’s Architecture Review Board recommended that the alterations be approved, and Pires is hoping to have the dining room reopened and the roof deck completed by the fall, though he said those plans may be delayed in the event of a COVID-19 resurgence.

“I’ve thought about doing it for quite some time and it was almost impossible to do once we opened and started to have some success,” Pires said.

The addition would nearly double the restaurant’s floor space and the current plan is for an 18-seat bar and a 70-person dining area to be added to the roof.

“Pretty much within two weeks of us being shut down at the end of March, we decided to pull the trigger," Pries said.

He estimates that the Manassas location has lost about 70% of its business, but said all told — he owns two other locations in Fairfax and Haymarket — things were sustainable in the long run.

As for delaying the return of indoor dining at the Manassas location, Pires said he felt the reward would outweigh the risk.

“If for some reason there’s a large second wave we might even delay the downstairs opening until the spring as well,” he said. “My goal is really to reopen with a fresh start with all of this stuff hopefully behind us, so we can start off with a bang and reintroduce the whole place to the community and set it up for success. We’re just being creative and figuring out ways to continue on.”

According to the Architectural Review Board, the building was an addition to the People’s National Bank.

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