In 2017, JV’s in Falls Church is celebrating its 69th year in business. Over that time, the popular restaurant has grown from a place to stop in for a quick bite of food to a friendly hangout where you can experience great music and wonderful food items off the menu.
That means not only where patrons get scrumptious chili and meatloaf, but they can hear some of the best local country, classic rock and blues bands play over a pint of beer.
“We’ve been at the same location, run by the same family since the very beginning,” says Lorraine Campbell, the owner of the family-run business. “It was started by my dad and his brother after they returned from World War II. We were the first strip mall outside of D.C.”
As the area around JV’s, which is located at 6666 Arlington Blvd., just west of Seven Corners, has grown, so has the establishment. Over the years, it has doubled in size, and expanded its offerings.
“It’s grown into a big, live music venue with a dance floor and international acts coming through the doors,” Campbell says. “We started with music in the late ’50s and musicians would come in and just play around with their guitars. It really became the place to be for musicians in the area.”
The venue holds open mic’s throughout the year so they can look at up-and-coming talent and it takes a band with a pretty good quality to be invited to play.
“We are known for any night of the week that you come in, we have good music,” she says. “We do every genre, from bluegrass to country to classic rock. As long as the clientele comes in and supports these acts, we’re happy to have them.”
The Musicians Speak
A frequent performer at JV’s is local faves David Kitchen Music, comprised of vocalist David Kitchen, Ariel Francis on keys, Jack O’Dell on drums, Johnny Combs on bass and Anthony Pirog on guitar.
JV’s is not just a great place for the local scene, but artists from around the country stop by when in the area.
“My favorite thing about JV’s is the amazing hospitality of Lorraine and music fans that support the music,” says Chicago-based blues singer Joe Moss. “I have a month-long tour coming in February that starts in Florida and will end up points as far north as Maine, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. I look forward to making a stop there.”
He adds that JVs pays and feeds well, and Lorraine has musicians’ best interests in mind.
Grammy-nominated blues artist Tab Benoit appreciates the hospitality he receives from the staff whenever he stops by. “The best clubs are where the owner cares about what goes on, loves the music, and makes you welcome and comfortable,” he says. “We need more clubs like JVs.”
The Music/Restaurant Relationship
Some of those who have played through the years have gone on to have long and storied careers, and everyone involved with JV’s is always happy to see bands succeed.
The musicians get great exposure by playing, but Campbell notes that JV’s gets a lot out of the performances itself.
“We are such a big advocate and big fans of live music,” she says. “We have equipment if needed, but a lot of the bands prefer to bring their own because they are comfortable with what they work with.”
Two years ago, JV’s expanded and they enlarged the stage so it’s situated in the center of the restaurant with a dance floor nestled in front of it. High hop tables and the original booths from 69 years ago are available for parties who want to sit.
Now, every Monday night is Blues night, featuring a jam with musicians from all over the state. The first Tuesday of every night is a country bluegrass open mic, and every Wednesday is a regular open mic for any acoustic or electric player who wants to give it a try. The rest of the week is home to bands and performers.
The kitchen is open every night until 2 a.m., and features a host of comfort American food such as burgers and grilled cheese. That has been a big draw over the years as well and has made regulars out of hundreds of people in the area.
A number of others from Campbell’s family work at the restaurant and her sister even plays in a band once in a while. Having grown up around the industry, JV’s has been in their blood for decades.
“I love the music, the people and it’s just very therapeutic; it’s not just work,” Campbell says. “We are a dying breed. A lot of the family-owned businesses are all closing due to economic situations, but we’ve been here since 1947 and we don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon.”