I love laughter. I even prioritize it. I have always thought the bigger the laugh, the better the person. It is possible this metric is bit self-congratulatory because in college my friends always told me they wouldn’t ever need to look for me at a party, they could just listen for my laugh. And when anyone asked me why I was marrying my husband my first answer was that he made me laugh. Like I said, I really prioritize laughing.
So when I met Nicole Jones and her laugh filled up a room I knew we would become fast friends. It isn’t just her laugh that draws you in, however. It is her smile and warmth; it literally radiates from her and makes you want to pull up a chair and get to know her better. Which is perfect, because she has an amazing restaurant, Stomping Ground, where you can do just that.
Yes, yes, yes the food is off the charts. The biscuits melt in your mouth, the pimento cheese is to die for, and the grilled avocado she serves on her weekend dinner menu is life-changing. I have actually been driving in my car and forgotten where I am going because I am so mentally focused on trying to remember if it is Thursday or Friday — the consequence being whether or not I can go get that avocado!
But Stomping Ground is about more than just the great food. It is a neighborhood place where you just feel at home. I always run in to someone I know and it is just the kind of place where you look down at your watch and you realize you have been there half a day. The place is so homey and warm it could melt the butter on those biscuits all by itself.
I think of it as Del Ray’s So-Bo answer (get it? A little Southern, a teensy bit Bohemian?) to the old model of a neighborhood bar. And, by the way, you can get a drink at Stomping Ground, too – and once you share a laugh with Nicole you’ll want to do just that.
Earrings, top, and jeans from The Hive.
How do you spend your time? I work a lot and like to use that excuse as much as possible to be a total lug (mainly lounging in pajamas) when I’m not working. I’m a huge film buff and I really like to go out to eat.
How long have you lived in Alexandria: Going on four years.
What is your hometown? I’m a military kid but I spent 20 years in Atlanta. It feels the most like my hometown.
Last book read or movie seen: Book: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett; Movie: “The Apartment.” It’s an oldie but way ahead of its time. Jack Lemmon. Shirley MacLane. If you like Madmen, you have to check out this movie.
Guilty Pleasure: Television.
Phrase you overuse: I’m so sorry – I smell like bacon.
Facebook or Instagram? Insta
Latest binge-watch: “Schitt’s Creek.” It is everything. I just finished the last season and I already miss them.
If you only could have one for the rest of your life: wine or coffee? Coffee, but only if it comes with good quality half and half. No half and half? Bring on the wine!
Define your style in three words or less: Classic with an edge (that is four words)
The go-to piece in your wardrobe: Blazer (best with cheap white T and statement necklace)
Favorite current trend: Sneakers
Beauty product you can’t live without: This is so pedestrian but I have really dry skin, especially working in a hot kitchen. I’m obsessed with body creams. I have an entire shelf in my closet dedicated solely to lotion. I have a type for face, hands, feet, elbows & knees, legs. For daytime, nighttime, if I have burns, if it is hot out. Seriously. It’s a sickness.
Heels or flats? Yes
Favorite room in your home: I have this great little covered porch off the kitchen. Tons of windows, exposed brick and just enough space for a cozy couch and a few lounging chairs. Add twinkle lights, a cup of coffee, and all the succulents…pure bliss.
Antiques, modern, or a mix? Mix, all the way.
Last item bought for your home: Navy linen bed frame.
Clutter-free or well-lived in? Well-lived in. Perfect is so boring!
Wallpaper — yes, totally modern or no, so dated: Yes! I even wallpapered the bathrooms at Stomp!
Your go-to work-out: Running the stairs with five hot plates at Stomping Ground.
Most fun way to exercise: SoulCycle
Group exercise or solo: Solo
Fitness goal: Ha! To get to SoulCycle more than 2x per week. Have I mentioned I work a lot?
Last purchase in Alexandria: $100 worth of cards at Red Barn Mercantile. So good.
Best coffee / happy hour / date night spot: Ahem, I mean is it okay to give a shameless plug here? I know this great place that serves breakfast but does a bistro dinner service on Thursday and Friday nights.
(Editor’s note: Want to see for yourself how great Stomping Ground is? Meet us at this event!)