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Del Ray’s Hi/Fi Tex Mex BBQ needed after-the-fact permission to cook food, now they need it for their sign

The owners of Hi/Fi Tex Mex in Del Ray are asking for after-the-fact approval of their sign (via City of Alexandria)

After getting after-the-fact permission from City Council to use their outdoor smoker, Del Ray’s Hi/Fi Tex Mex BBQ is now asking after-the-fact for approval of their electric sign.

The restaurant opened in the backyard of Evening Star Cafe (2000 Mount Vernon Avenue) in 2022, and got after-the-fact permission from the City Council to operate their outdoor smoker grills, despite complaints from neighbors. Last December, Washington Post food critic Tim Carman labeled the restaurant as one of the top ten best casual restaurants in the region.

In October, City Council approved additional outdoor dining at the restaurant. While evaluating that proposal, however, city staff discovered that a 21-square-foot internally illuminated sign had been erected in the alleyway between Evening Star and Planet Wine (2004 Mount Vernon Avenue).

“While evaluating SUP #2023-00060, staff noticed that the subject sign had been erected without permit approval,” city staff wrote in their report. “The applicant responded and submitted a building permit application.”

Evening Star and Planet Wine are owned by Neighborhood Restaurant Group, which also owns Vermilion (1120 King Street), Rustico (827 Slaters Lane), Josephine (109 S. St. Asaph Street), Buzz Bakeshop (901 Slaters Lane), and B Side in Fairfax.

City staff are recommending approval to Council. According to a staff report:

The existing sign does not negatively impact the nearby neighborhood. The location of the sign is adjacent to several commercial establishments and harmonizes in design and size with the existing signs on the block. Given that the sign is set back 36 feet from the property line, the minimal lighting would not cause driver distraction. Additionally, the sign is not detrimental to residential uses as the lighting faces only Mount Vernon Avenue and staff has received no complaints associated with the sign. Noise impacts are not relevant as the signage does not include sound.

City Council will conduct a public hearing on the matter on Feb. 24.

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