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Poll: Do You Think the 'Koreatown' Stigma Still Exists in Annandale?

Annandale is home to several Korean restaurants and businesses.

It’s no secret that Annandale is home to many restaurants, but some residents have told Patch they think the ratio of restaurants to other businesses is disproportionate.

Many of the restaurants in the area are Korean or Korean-American owned. (Humorously, the availability of bulgogi in Fairfax County came up at the end of ChokeOnFunny‘s “Fairfax Rap” on YouTube.)

In fact, some residents of the D.C. metro area refer to Annandale as “Koreatown,” in part due to Annandale’s relatively dense Korean population (compared to the rest of Fairfax County) and the large number of Korean businesses. The stereotype has divided Annandale residents—something The Washington Post addressed back in 2005.

Some residents whom Annandale Patch has spoken to in the past year see Annandale as a diverse community that has the potential for business expansion far beyond ethnic cuisine. Back in September, an task force (composed of business owners and community members) unveiled its , which aims to promote mixed-use development in the Annandale community.

Sherell Williams (Editor) February 15, 2012 at 10:06 PM
A comment on our Facebook page suggested a better variety of restaurants in the area.
John E. Beaulieu February 15, 2012 at 10:30 PM
What really irks non-Korean Annandale residents is the growing number of Korean-owned businesses whose business signs are predominantly in Korean only. Some churches have adopted this practice with some equivalent English signs present but considerably smaller. This is, after all, the USA. Our official language is American English!
Riss February 15, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Funny..the old Shell gas station across from the now closed Blooms is going to be a Korean restaurant.
Sherell Williams (Editor) February 15, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Hi Harold, I've heard it will be a Mexican restaurant. I've been in and out touch with the owner for weeks, but there are language barriers since the owner of the property is Korean. Once I have complete details, there will be a post about it on the site confirming what kind of restaurant it will be.
Karen Deck February 15, 2012 at 11:10 PM
I love living in Asiandale. I would welcome more diverse restaurants and would be thrilled if the old Shell station became a good real Mexican restaurant.
Riss February 16, 2012 at 12:05 AM
Thank you Sherell..I was given the wrong info by a Annandale C O C member at the golf course.
CD February 16, 2012 at 12:56 PM
I would love to see more American style restaurants. What bothers me is that the Korean Chamber of Commerce voted some years ago to build a sign over Little River Turnpike that said "Korea Town". I personally find that behavior offense. I grew up in Annandale and this is my home town and it has much history. I have walked into some of the Korean restaurants and have been completely ignored. Some of the Korean Restaurants do not even have a sign in English which according to the Town of Annandale business laws is required. Don't get me wrong there are very friendly Korean Restaurants out there like Il Mee and the Honey Pig. They are very friendly to all and have donated food to the High School for their All Night Graduation Celebration. I would love to also see in Annandale the Town Center that at one point was planned for the KMart shopping center.
Jennifer Souther February 16, 2012 at 01:53 PM
John - think again. Our founding fathers may have used English in all of their documents, but there is NO official language in the United States.
S & K February 16, 2012 at 03:09 PM
We happen to love the diversity in our community. The title “Korea Town” should not be a stigma; it should be something that attracts others to come and experience a “taste of Korea” much like Chinatown in DC. What seems to have a negative impact is the lack of cleanliness/pride that some of the Korean business fronts/restaurants display, including the signs. They simply appear sloppy and uninviting and the newer signs are, well…cheesy! It would be nice to have a cleaner and classier appearance. While there may not be an official language in the US, it is smart business practice to use English to invite the majority (English speaking consumers) to come on in and taste the fabulous cuisine!
Sherell Williams (Editor) February 16, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Just a quick comment to thank all of you for your thoughtful comments here and the civil conversation. It's great reading your opinions.
K Lee February 16, 2012 at 03:50 PM
I would like to see more American type restaurants, similar to Bob Evans or more upscale American restaurants such as Silverados. Silverados is a real asset to the Annandale community. I would love to see more restaurants like that open up. The majority of the people in Annandale are not Korean and I am dismayed that all we seem to be attracting is Korean restaurants or retail establishments. We also need more upscale retail establishments. It's just not a very attractive business area and to attract a diverse community of people, you need to have different kinds of restaurants, retail stores, groceries and the like. I was sorry to see Bloom close up. I have lived in Annandale for 18 years and have seen more American establishments close up, and more Korean establishments move in--and they do not have signage in English. Annandale is great because of its proximity to other locales, such as Arlington and Alexandria and there is good transportation via Columbia Pike, but with the image of "Koreatown" growing stronger, this is not the type of community I wish to retire in. We will be moving when we retire.
Laura loughlin February 17, 2012 at 12:57 AM
I would love see more child orientated business/restaurants in Annandale. I am a very active member of the m.o.m.s of Annandale group which has 74 members in the 22003 zip code and were growing daily. We are constantly however driving to Alexandria,merrifield and fairfax to entertain our children. I would love to see something along the the lines of the playseum in D.C. or telegraph station in Alexandria that are reasonably priced healthy food and great places to spend the day playing and educating our kids.
CD February 18, 2012 at 01:42 PM
S&K I have to disagree on the part regarding the Stigma of "Koreatown". Annandale is full of it own history that dates back before the Civil War. Annandale United Methodist Church's Little White Church has a museum in the basement that explains much of the history of Annandale and some of the surrounding towns. I personally find the idea that we are "Koreatown" offensive in that we are forgetting our history. Majority of the Korean business are not friendly to non-Korean's and that is not what I want Annandale to be known for. I have lived here for 31 years and I am proud of the Town of Annandale. I remember when Friday night's in Annandale meant that all the family own business shut down and went to the football game. I remember when the local business supported the schools that is not the case with the majority of the Korean business. I have personally gone into these business looking for support of Annandale HS to have been rudely told "no" or my favorite is when I am completely ignored. Some do support but most will not.
Anne Trotter February 20, 2012 at 01:14 AM
I agree with K Lee. I have nothing against Korean restaurants but I do believe we could use and support another non-fast food restaurant that is not a Korean restaurant. AT
Billy J February 20, 2012 at 04:25 AM
I don't feel back home in Annandale any more. It's like Fairfax County is intentionally creating slums there. Home to too many illegal immigrants, violent Asian and Hispanic gangs, and overcrowded houses with too many cars in the front yards. It's become the wost combination of the bad areas of Herndon and the Route 1 corridor south of Alexandria. What can be done? Enforce existing zoning laws. Insist on restaurants and stores include English on their signs and menus. Set up sting operations to catch discriminatory pricing that favors Asians. And stop accepting injustice by labeling it diversity.
Dave Fuller February 23, 2012 at 04:48 PM
I never had Korean food before I moved here, I freaking LOVE it! I been to a lot the the local restaurants, even the one that don't have signs in English. Some times I have no idea what I'm eating. I'm proud to live in "Korea-dale". It is the spice that makes living in the NoVA suburbs bearable.
Sabrina Iacaruso February 24, 2012 at 12:25 PM
I've lived in Annandale for the 22 years, and I remember that it used to be a tiny, sleepy little town with nothing to do and nowhere to go. The fact of the matter is the growing number of businesses in Annandale, Korean or otherwise, has changed my perception. I think it's great that Annandale is called Korea-town, especially when it generates a lot of revenue from non-Annandale visitors who come from all over, and I mean all over, to dine and shop at Korean businesses. Most of the people in my network will drive all the way from Connecticut just to eat at Honey Pig. If anyone really wants to know who's going to these establishments, just go to Yelp and read all of the reviews. I'd be interested to know exactly how much money that these businesses bring in because I think Annandale relies on it heavily. However, I also think that Annandale needs more diversity. If the residents want to change their unofficial moniker, then the COC needs to attract other investors... and I haven't seen anything new open in a really long time except for chain businesses, besides the small Korean businesses. I find it offensive when people use tradition/history to hide behind their xenophobic views.
Cheryl Bugelski February 24, 2012 at 12:43 PM
By the look of the outdoor decor...I think Mexican.
HARLEY RIDER April 30, 2012 at 12:27 PM
I have lived in Annandale for over 50 years. To say this town has changed would be an understatement and not for the better mind you. Don't get me wrong. Annandale does have it's bright spots. I also welcome any and all types of business here. However, when I drive up and down 236 and see the signs at the various places of business and can't read them, it makes me sad. It's as if these places only wish to do business with a target group. Well, I am too old to learn Korean. Besides ENGLISH is spoken here in this town. If I can't read the sign then you wont get my business and I am perfectly fine with that. Not to mention I get plenty of sleep at night. I thought there was some sort of rule or regulation in place reference signage. I guess I was wrong. That's a shame.
SLS May 02, 2012 at 04:03 AM
The reason we have not seen any new development in Annandale, is that theKorean business community buys up property before anyone has a change to bid, they do not sell or do business with non-asians. So we will not see any true growth or improvement in the Annandale retail or restaurant buiness until this monopy is broken (Period).

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