Warm Welcome for a Missed Friend: Old Firestation #3

Warm Welcome for a Missed Friend: Old Firestation #3

Fairfax City residents are delighted at the reopening of an icon.

Across from Old Town Hall, Old Firestation #3 is open seven days/week.

Across from Old Town Hall, Old Firestation #3 is open seven days/week.

Harry Demetriou owned and ran Fairfax City landmark, Old Firestation #3, for two decades. So when he died in July 2022, people mourned the loss of both him and his iconic restaurant on University Drive.

So when Imad Zein and his nephew Tony Hassan reopened it, City residents were thrilled – including the mayor. “It’s a beloved spot,” said Catherine Read. “It’s so good to see it open again.”

“We have a lot of regulars, and this is a beautiful community,” said Zein. “People gather together to support their businesses, and the people who come here feel like it’s their own home.”

Participating in the ribbon cutting are (from left) Erik Hansen, Tess Rollins, Tara Borwey, Catherine Read, Imad Zein, Tony Hassan and Tom Ross. 


And that’s partly because the new owners kept the décor and ambience as true to the original restaurant as possible. However, it did get spruced up with new paint, new flooring in the dining area, a resurfaced bar top, plus a new roof and air-conditioning units.

“It’s still the Old Firestation, but with a refreshed look,” said Hassan. “We have 14 TVs total, upstairs and downstairs, plus 120-inch projector TVs upstairs. I love this City – the residents have really supported us. It’s amazing and a blessing that we’ve been so busy.”

Located at 3988 University Drive, across from Old Town Hall, the restaurant is open seven days a week from 11 a.m.-2 a.m., and the upstairs space may be booked for private events such as parties, birthdays and receptions. Call 703-677-0147.

The menu has always featured many Greek specialties and still includes dishes such as gyros and souvlaki. But it also includes Old Firestation’s popular ribeye kebabs, fish and chips and half-pound Angus beef burgers. 

And in keeping with the restaurant’s theme – after all, the building started out as an actual fire station – bartender Erik Hansen designed the cocktails with names such as First Responder, Fire Truck and Five Alarm Margarita.

“I love this bar,” said Art Von Herbulis, a City resident since 1964 and regular patron of Old Firestation. “It’s home; most everybody here I’ve known for many years. And I love the new owners and what they’ve done to it.” 

“The food is really good, Tony aims to please, and the bartenders are great,” he continued. “I especially love their chicken wings, steak-and-cheese sandwich, Greek gyros and terrific steamed shrimp. And they have karaoke, plus live jazz and rock music, too.”

City residents Diana and Tony Tenorio are also returning regulars. “We’re so happy it reopened,” said Diana. “It has the same vibe, theme and feeling as before. We walk here and love supporting Fairfax City businesses.”

Her husband Tony likes the hamburgers because “they’re juicy and meaty and taste good.” And she enjoys the Greek dishes, dips and appetizers because “they taste like homemade. We love coming here, sitting at the bar to eat and chatting with the bartender.”

During the City’s summertime Rock the Block events at Old Town Square, across the street, Old Firestation sets up its own space outside where customers may listen to the outdoor music concert with friends while enjoying food and drink from the restaurant. 

And at Old Firestation’s official ribbon cutting, Tara Borwey with Fairfax City Economic Development, said, “I’m happy to see this space activated again and being part of community events. Tony and Imad have done a great job renovating the place, and it’s a welcoming spot for George Mason students, too.”

Mayor Read praised them, as well. “A business that’s been in the City for a very long time becomes part of people’s story – part of their narrative,” she explained. “And it becomes part of the memories you make with your family, friends or classmates. When that business is shuttered, it’s truly like someone has died – and in this case, someone did.

“When Harry passed away and the doors were closed, it really left a hole in the fabric of our community. And when we saw that someone was fixing it up and something was going on in here, there was a lot of excitement. People wanted this place back; it was like getting a friend back.” So, she said to the new owners, “You’ve done a tremendous service to the City of Fairfax to bring back something so beloved, and it’s all appreciated.

“Besides being a wonderful restaurant and a place where people can gather, you are a great community partner and you are preserving a very important memory for our City,” continued Read. “You’re also giving the Fairfax residents a place to make new memories, going forward. So I thank you, Tony and Imad, very much.”

Old Town Fairfax Business Association Executive Director Tess Rollins said Old Firestation #3 was the first place she went to when she first came to the City. “I used to perform an acoustic act on their stage and upstairs,” she said. “So it’s really cool that you reopened this space. This community is about all its small businesses and how hard they work. So, congratulations – I’m so glad you’re back.”

Next, Hassan said he chose to open a business in Fairfax because “it’s vibrant now. Seeing all these new restaurants open up [downtown], it helps all of us out.” Zein then thanked the City and all of Old Firestation’s friends and regulars for supporting them.

Lastly, Councilmember Tom Ross said he and his wife went there for dinner on their 52nd anniversary. “We could have gone to a fancy restaurant, or anywhere, to celebrate, but we came here,” he said. “We were overjoyed – what a great place, and the restoration is gorgeous. 

“This is such a wonderful location in Old Town, and I was thrilled to hear the owners call Fairfax a vibrant place, because it hasn’t always been. But that’s what we envision for this City – an exciting place where people of all ages and backgrounds can come and enjoy a meal, company and community. That’s what it’s all about.”