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It’s a day of happiness in Alexandria, as more than 900 Alexandria City High School seniors graduated this morning at George Mason University’s EagleBank Arena.

Perhaps student speaker Lenhle Vilakati put it best when she said: “Today we finally break apart and become our own people. Today we finally have to go off into bigger things and be amazing.”

Alexandria City High School is the largest public high school in Virginia.

Superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt praised the 905 graduates, and said they are ready to take their next steps.

“This class of Titans is more than ready to do great things to the next chapter of their lives,” Kay-Wyatt said.

Outgoing Principal Peter Balas received a standing ovation, and tearfully thanked the audience of students, families, ACPS staff and city leaders.

“This is the most meaningful part of being a principal and your class will be one that I will always remember and hold close to my heart,” Balas said. “Today, you’re all experiencing a major life-changing event. Graduation brings to an end the last 13 years of schooling as you know it, that has been structured and supported by so many loved ones who helped you be successful. A change like this can be scary, but it is often through change that you become the best version of yourself.”

Chadwicks owner Trae Lamond (on right) with general manager Sean Hall (staff photo by James Cullum)

Chadwicks (203 Strand Street) is about to get really busy.

From now until mid-August, it’s the strong season for the unpretentious Old Town staple that has graced the Alexandria waterfront since 1979. From the menu to decor, not much changes in the restaurant/bar (except a recent price hike) as owner Trae Lamond keeps his proverbial ship afloat through a gradually evolving seashore.

Chadwicks was once one of Alexandria’s only bars along the Potomac River, but over the last several years has been joined by BARCA Pier & Wine BarVola’s Dockside Grill, Ada’s on the River, Virtue Feed & Grain, among others. But there’s something to be said for a reliably good cheeseburger with a cold beer, as last year owner Trae Lamond and his team of 30 full and part-time employees took home the Chamber ALX’s Overall Business of the Year award.

Lamond is a 1999 graduate of T.C. WIlliams High School (now Alexandria City High School), and moved back home after getting a degree in history and art from James Madison University. Lamond started working as a bartender at Chadwicks in 2004, and then bought the business in 2015.

This week, ALXnow sat down with Lamond and his general manager Sean Hall to discuss the latest.

ALXnow: What’s the enduring attraction of Chadwicks? How have you kept it going all these years?

Lamond: I think it’s just the way we treat people. We don’t put on airs that we’re something fancier than we are. We are a home away from home for half of Old Town. The food is comfort food for the most part. We’re not going to offer you fillet of puffer fish with a tweezered-on microgreen, or whatever. We’re cheeseburgers and buffalo wings. We’re what you want and we’re not overcomplicating it. We’re just trying to be consistent and giving you what you’re looking for.

ALXnow: Post-pandemic, what are your main challenges now?

Lamond: Honestly, for a while things were in flux. Now it’s about putting butts in seats and keeping costs down, and costs are hitting us pretty high all over the place. One of the parts of us being the neighborhood friendly place is that we’ve always been priced a little bit below everybody else. It is very hard to do that and we held off for a long time, and basically took a bit of a hit as we were coming out of the worst of the pandemic.

COVID allowed for a reset mentality where I used to be like, “Oh, boohoo, I wish X, Y and Z was better.” Now it’s like, okay, when all of a sudden, you know, there’s sunny day flooding on Prince Street, I don’t care. Like, I care, but I used to feel like it was the worst possible thing that could happen.

ALXnow: The flooding on the waterfront no longer dampens your spirits?

Lamond: On the record, the city needs to fix the flood mitigation plan instantly. But yeah, it’s not the end of the world. It’s all about perspective. When you’re faced with what everyone thinks is like, holy smokes, maybe the end of small businesses in America. Restaurants were  hit so hard, and we came through that.

ALXnow: When did you raise your prices?

Hall: Early 2022. Prices were just skyrocketing. Sourcing things was tough for everything. Chicken wings and buffalo wings were very hard to find. So, we had to find whole new sources to get things, figure out what’s going to work for what we’re trying to put out. It wasn’t everything at once, but we consistently had to hunt down products to keep putting out something that people want. And it would be more expensive every time. It was like they were discontinuing things just to raise the prices later on. It really was a struggle. We’ve struggled with not raising prices for a long time and basically Trae didn’t want to do it. We had some heated discussions about it and finally he relented.

ALXnow: How did your customers feel about that? How dramatic was the price increase?

Lamond: Not that dramatic. A dollar here, 50 cents there. The most drastic was the crab cake sandwich. The price of crab more than doubled, and we’re not going to make a bad crab cake sandwich. We had to ask ourselves whether we wanted to take it off the menu or raise the price $5.

Hall: A lot of customers noticed the price increases. Not too many were upset about it because prices went up at restaurants across the board.

ALXnow: What’s the development around the waterfront mean for you? Is it a good thing to have all this local competition, or does it siphon away business?

Lamond: I think it’s all been very good for us. In the 200 block of Strand Street all we used to have was a gun shop, a gravel parking lot and warehouses. There was a strip mall that was at best three-quarters full, and Big Wheel Bikes.  We were the only restaurant and there was no reason to come here except for us. Seriously. Now, people want to go to Ada’s or BARCA, and they want to see what what’s going on down here.

Hall: Before we were a hidden gem. Now we’re along the path.

ALXnow: Seeing how far the waterfront development has come the last decade, what do you think about future development 10 or 20 years down the road?

Lamond: That’s what’s fantastic and frustrating about Chadwicks. We’re not going to all of a sudden get out the white tablecloths and replace all of our thoroughbred bartenders with mixologists. We’re just going to stay who we are. Our bartender is not going to make you a frilly lilac whiskey with bourbon smash, or whatever. What are we gonna do? We’re not going to reinvent anything. We’re just going to show up, open the place, keep welcoming people in.

It’s comforting to know that we’re the place in Old Town that can get away with it. Twenty years from now, I imagine our number one item is going to be a cheeseburger. Our bar is going to be one of the busiest bars on the waterfront. We’re going to be the only late night show in town unless someone else tries to wedge in on that.

ALXnow: There’s a long-running conversation on creating a Business Improvement District in Old Town. What do you think about it?

Lamond: I’m a big supporter of a BID. The government knows how to govern, but they don’t know how to run a small business. That’s why we need a BID to push business development, guided by us… Chadwicks is a very large building and we’d be paying $150 a month. I can afford that to try and put more butts in my seats. If it doesn’t work out then we can get rid of it.  Two, three years into this, if it’s a huge wash and 60% of businesses don’t want it, it’s over.

ALXnow: Do you envision opening more Chadwicks locations? 

Lamond: The idea of opening 20 more Chadwicks and becoming a mogul, I have no interest in that. Our game plan has been about consistency. What do you want? Here’s the burgers and french fries. We are as accessible as it comes, and our 99% of our focus goes into making sure that customers have a good experience at the restaurant, their food is cooked properly. The place is clean. We’re gifted with not having to reinvent ourselves every five years. We can just keep improving.

Hall: I think it says a lot about us that we’ve had so much long tenured staff for so long. We met our wives here and we’ve worked with our family members and friends. It’s an institution and it’s gonna be here forever.


(Updated 2:40 p.m.) Police said two teens were shot in a residential area near Interstate 395 and N. Van Dorn Street on Wednesday night.

Alexandria Police Department received multiple calls at around 8:15 p.m. reporting 15-20 gunshots in a residential area in the 5400 block of Richenbacher Avenue, which is near N. Van Dorn Street and Interstate 395.

One of the victims, a 17-year-old male, was shot in the lower body. The second victim was a 16-year-old male. Both victims were transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Witnesses told police that two suspects were seen jumping into a red and white Mini Cooper and fleeing the area.

Police reported via dispatch that multiple shell casings from a rifle were found at the scene.

No arrests have been made in connection with this incident, according to APD.

Anyone with information on this incident can call the APD non-emergency number at 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.

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Armed robbers made off with an undisclosed amount of cash last night after holding up Rocklands Barbecue & Grilling Company (25 S. Quaker Lane).

Two men with guns took “everything from the safe,” according to dispatches from the Alexandria Police Department. The suspects fled the area in a vehicle that drove east toward the King St-Old Town Metro station.

No injuries were reported, no arrests have been made, and the incident is under investigation.

The restaurant, which closed after the incident, is located around the corner from APD headquarters (3600 Wheeler Avenue) and the Alexandria Commons Shopping Center.

Anyone with information on this incident can call the police non-emergency number at 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.

Map via Google Maps

Hank’s Oyster Bar (image via Hank’s Oyster Bar/Facebook)

More details have been released on the method the former general manager of Hank’s Oyster Bar in Old Town used to allegedly steal $600,000 from the company.

The 53-year-old former employee was indicted earlier this month on 17 counts of felony embezzlement after allegedly creating “at least four fictitious employees for Hank’s Oyster Bar and set up direct deposit accounts in their names to which she had access,” according to a recently released search warrant affidavit.

The embezzlement allegedly took place over the last eight-and-a-half years. It was discovered when an “internal company investigation revealed discrepancies in the company payroll,” according to the search warrant affidavit.

“It was reported that (the suspect) admitted to the theft when confronted and signed a promissory note drawn up by an attorney for (the owner) promising to pay the money back,” the affidavit said.

Returns from subpoenas served at four separate banks revealed that the accounts were owned by the suspect, according to the search warrant affidavit. The restaurant owner also turned over to police text messages from the suspect apologizing for the thefts.

Each felony embezzlement count carries a potential maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A trial date has not been set yet.

Image via Hank’s Oyster Bar/Facebook


Updated at 4 p.m. A driver crashed a car into an Old Town business early this morning (Wednesday) and was transported to Inova Alexandria Hospital.

The crash into Casa Rosada Artisan Gelato at 111 S. Payne Street occurred around 1 a.m. The male driver was taken away on a stretcher.

No charges were filed and the incident is under investigation, according to the Alexandria Police Department.

This is the third vehicle reportedly crashing into an Alexandria building in less than a week.

On Saturday, a truck repeatedly crashed into a CVS in Del Ray and thieves tried to steal an ATM machine. Yesterday, a car crashed into a store at the Bradlee Shopping Center, where a handful of storefronts have been struck in recent years.

A U.S. Postal Service employee was robbed at gunpoint on Saturday, May 27, 2023 (via Google Maps)

A U.S. Postal Service employee was robbed at gunpoint of their phone and keys in the Lynhaven neighborhood on Saturday.

The victim was not injured in the incident, which occurred at around 12:15 p.m.

According to dispatch reports, the victim was robbed by a male with a gun, and the suspect fled the scene in a black BMW. Police said on the scanner that the victim was robbed of their keys, which can open any U.S. Postal Service mailboxes in the country.

Anyone with information on this incident can call the APD non-emergency number at 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.

image via Google Maps

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A large black truck repeatedly smashed into the front entrance of the CVS at 415 E. Monroe Avenue early Saturday morning but the would-be thieves failed to get away with their likely target — the store ATM.

The truck drove into the business front-first two times at around 3:40 a.m., the store manager told ALXnow. The manager also said that the ATM was probably the intended target, but it is bolted to the ground and wasn’t taken.

Three suspects in dark clothing got out of the truck after it smashed through the entrance, but they were unable to extricate the ATM, according to Alexandria Police Department dispatches. No arrests were made and the incident remains under investigation.

The truck was damaged in the crashes and left the scene missing part of a wheel well and a side rail, according to an APD dispatch.

Anyone with information on this incident can call the APD non-emergency number t 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.

Map via Google Maps

The Bank of America was robbed on April 3, 2023 (staff photo by James Cullum)

A 27-year-old Maryland man has been charged with robbing two separate Alexandria banks in March and April.

Jaquan Royal, of Prince George’s County, was arrested on May 24 in connection to the robbery at the Wells Fargo Bank in Arlandria (3506 Mount Vernon Avenue) on March 23, and at the Bank of America in Carlyle (415 John Carlyle Street) on April 3.

In both cases, the suspect allegedly handed the teller a note demanding cash and fled with an undisclosed amount. No one was injured in either robbery.

Royal is being held in another jurisdiction and goes to court on June 12.

The Alexandria Police Department is continuing to investigate the incident and asks anyone with information to contact Detective John Brattelli at 703-746-6699, at [email protected], or by calling the APD non-emergency number at 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) tours the Campagna Center”s Early Learning Center at St. James on May 26, 2023 (staff photo by James Cullum)

Virginia’s junior U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine was in Alexandria today to discuss early childhood education and said that the current debt ceiling fight in Washington should be wrapped up by the June 1 deadline.

Kaine and his staff took a field trip of sorts today, starting with a roundtable discussion in Arlington on the fentanyl crisis, followed by a tour of the Campagna Early Learning Center (5140 Fillmore Avenue) in Alexandria and ending with a meeting with women leaders in Falls Church.

Campagna Center CEO Tammy Mann applauded federal funding boosts for Head Start programs and said that employee retention is one of her biggest problems. Campagna offers both yearly early Head Start and Head Start programs for children up to five years old.

“I think there just needs to be an incredible focus on understanding compensation,” Mann said.  “It is insufficient, and all of the work that is being done to generate resources to support that area would be hugely helpful… I think, as the [fiscal year 2024 federal budget] negotiations are happening, just continuing to educate members of Congress on the cost of care. It’s far outstretched the ability of most people to pay for it, and we need a national solution.”

Kaine sits on the Senate’s Health, Labor, Education & Pensions Committee, and said he’s working on a bill with Committee Chair Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) that would increase funding for Head Start programs and provide families with rebates so that they do not pay more than 8% of their salaries on childcare.

“If I was having this meeting in Floyd, Virginia, I would hear that exact thing,” he said. “Patty and I have a bill, that is a very big bill, that is more than just increasing the Child Care Development Block route or increasing the funding to Head Start, it would guarantee that no parent would have to pay more than 8% of their income for child care. If anybody was at a center, and it was more than that, then they could get a rebate back.”

Mann said that she is continually understaffed.

“It’s difficult competing with other sectors for talent,” she said. “Our teachers get recruited away to the public school system… The Head Start program is constantly having to reset and retrain, and that takes a lot of time. And then the kids are they’re getting used to the teacher they really liked, and now there’s that turnover so that better salary means better continuity.”

Kaine said that the budget deal being hammered out in Washington will make it hard to pass his bill, although he said that he will continue to push for its eventual passage.

“I’ll be honest, I’m a little bit nervous today because of this debate that’s going on about what’s the budget deal that gets the House (of Representatives) to agree to do what we should always do, which is raise the debt ceiling,” Kaine said. “It sounds like there’s gonna be a set budgetary cap for defense spending, and then a different budget with a cap for non-defense items. And that will be a two-year deal, so we’ll raise the debt to debt ceiling for two years.”

Kaine said he advised his colleagues in Congress to raise the debt ceiling while Democrats had control of the Senate and House between 2020 and 2022.

“I really tried to urge my colleagues in November and December to do it, before the House majority became Republican,” Kaine said. “Here we are on waiting to see what gets announced. I think I have a fairly good sense of it… I think what will happen is a debt deal will be announced today or over the weekend. The Senate will then go and put that deal together next week.”


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