Alexandria, VA

Alexandria’s latest cupcake bakery will celebrate its successful opening with a party this weekend.

On Saturday, November 16 from 12-2:30 p.m., guests are invited to Smallcakes Cupcakery and Creamery (1506 Mount Vernon Avenue) for free mini cupcakes, face painting, and more.

The national chain opened its Del Ray location a month ago, focusing on cupcakes, ice cream, and rotating seasonal flavors.

“A few years ago I was figuring out what I wanted to do,” said franchise owner Breanna Perez.

“Then I realized love baking, I always have, and I love the Smallcakes menu. They allow you to design your own store and get creative with the menu, so this shop really feels my own,” Perez said.

Smallcakes stores ordinarily feature 18 cupcake flavors each day, but Perez scaled down and focused instead on baking high-quality, creative cupcakes.

In addition to several staple flavors, every day of the week the bakery features a different seasonal option. On Wednesday, for example, Perez bakes an Oatmeal Creme Pie cupcake, and on Thursday will bake a Vanilla Berry Cheesecake and Banana Snickerdoodle.

Smallcakes also features ten different flavors of scratch-made ice cream. There are classics such as vanilla and cookies and cream, along with twists on cupcake flavors with pieces of cake and icing swirled in.

Smallcakes founder Jeff Martin is expected to be present during Saturday’s grand opening celebration. Martin competed several times on the Food Network series “Cupcake Wars,” and has expanded Smallcakes to over 50 locations nationwide.

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In celebration of Cider Week Virginia, Alexandria will host a cider festival next week.

Hosted by Historic Alexandria, the hard cider tasting event is set for Saturday, November 23 from 1-5 p.m. at the Lloyd House in Old Town (220 N. Washington Street).

Tickets begin at $45 and raise to $55 at the door, plus a $20 ticket option for non-drinkers. The outdoor festival will include 10 pours from different cideries, plus a take-home souvenir glass.

The event will be outdoors, so visitors are advised to dress for the cold. Mount Vernon-based American food truck Executive Orders will also be onsite.

In addition to the festival, Pizza Paradiso in Old Town (124 King Street) will be hosting two “Cider Tap Takeovers” on Thursday, November 21, and Sunday, November 24. The event will feature draft pours from various Virginia cideries including Lost Boy and Potters.

Photo via Historic Alexandria/Facebook

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Over 22 local artisans are participating in the first Alexandria Makers Market next week.

The holiday event is set for Sunday, November 24 from 12-6 p.m. at Port City Brewing Company (3950 Wheeler Avenue).

“My intention with Alexandria Makers Market is to celebrate all the hard-working creatives based in our city, and to enable opportunities for us to showcase our talent,” said market founder Alyssa Kovach in a statement.

“I approached Port City because they are incredible makers themselves. I thought they might appreciate the motivation of this concept in a way that other venues may not be able to relate to. I am so honored and grateful they have agreed to host our inaugural event.”

In addition to a wide variety of vendors to shop from, three ticketed workshop events are scheduled throughout the day. Tickets must be purchased in advance for the workshops, which will be held upstairs in the brewery. All workshop participants will receive a pint of Port City beer during their class.

The workshops include:

A full list of the scheduled vendors are below:

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Alexandria’s historic Torpedo Factory Art Center will honor two big anniversaries this weekend as the building turns 100 and the Art Center turns 45.

A celebratory Anniversary Ball will take place this Saturday, November 16 from 7-11 p.m. at the Torpedo Factory (105 N. Union Street). Guests are invited to “dress to impress and celebrate like it’s 1919 or 1974,” per the event website, and tickets are still available for $75.

The night will feature the opening of 45: An Anniversary Exhibitcurated by Marian Van Landingham, artist and founder of the Torpedo Factory. In addition, Alexandria media company Istrico Productions will premiere a documentary about the building’s history.

According to the event website, additional festivities include:

  • A talk from WAMU arts and culture reporter Mikaela Lefrak
  • Live from Virginia band Good Shot Judy
  • Glass harp performance from Jamey Turner
  • Painted humans from artist Rebecca Rose
  • Live roving performers
  • Refreshments and a bar

Per its namesake, the Torpedo Factory Art Center began its life as a weapons factory at the end of World War I. At its peak, the complex was made up of 16 buildings and employed 5,000 workers. In 1950, it was converted to a Federal Records Center, and in 1974, became the Art Center. The three-story building is currently home to more than 165 artists who work, exhibit, and sell their art.

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Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and local restaurant operator Alexandria Restaurant Partners (ARP) is taking care of kitchen duty with a “Turkey To Go” program.

All orders can be placed online before Thursday, November 21, with pickup scheduled on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 28) at Mia’s Italian Kitchen (100 King Street).

For $99, ARP will provide a 20 pound, whole roasted turkey, served with red wine gravy and cranberry-orange preserves.

Sides such as cornbread stuffing and brown butter mashed potatoes can be purchased for $15, along with a pumpkin pie for $25. Bundle deals include a turkey, two sides, and a pie for $144, or a turkey, four sides, and a pie for $170.

Five of ARP’s Alexandria eateries are offering prix-fixe speciality menus on Thanksgiving.

For instance, at Vola’s Dockside Grill (101 N. Union Street), a three-course menu starts at $15 for kids, and $29 for adults, featuring dishes such as crab chowder and slow-cooked turkey.

Additional participating ARP restaurants include:

Photo via Sarah Lou/Flickr

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Several Alexandria community members spoke out against Alexandria City Public Schools’ active shooter drill training during a school safety forum yesterday (Wednesday).

Despite a rainy evening and a World Series final, several dozen community members attended the meeting at T.C. Williams High School Minnie Howard Campus. City officials, including ACPS Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. and Alexandria City Police Chief Michael Brown, gave presentations and answered public questions.

“[Gun violence] is our reality,” said Hutchings. “We need to make sure we are providing as safe of an environment for our kids as possible.”

In order to prepare students for an active shooter situation, ACPS uses the ALiCE method, which stands for:

  • Alert
  • Lockdown
  • Inform
  • Counter (Distract)
  • Evacuate

According to Jamie Bartlett, the director of ACPS Security and Safety Services, ALiCE is an effective, situational-based option for active threats. However, several community members spoke out in opposition to the “Counter” step.

When practicing “Counter,” students are directed to throw objects at a shooter, to provide a distraction so they can evacuate.

Bartlett stressed only students in the third grade and up are taught the distraction method. However, one audience member shouted that her five-year-old child came home saying their teacher taught them to throw things at shooters.

“I had a third-grader who said they were going to throw pencils at the intruder,” said another audience member. “This seems like it’s not effective at all. You have to do something unless you can say ‘That was the goal, for my third grader to throw pencils at a shooter.'”

Superintendent Hutchings said the school committee that handles such drills will meet soon to discuss the feedback.

“We will act on this,” Hutchings said. “As we go through the curriculum every year, it’s open to interpretation.”

Hutchings added, however, that training for violent incidents in school is an sad reality of modern life.

“It’s unfortunate that some young people who say ‘Have a great day, and I’ll see you when I get home,’ don’t come home,” he said. “We need to make sure we are providing as safe of an environment for our kids as possible. We can do everything in our power to make sure it is safe.”

“Let us continue to have an open mind,” Hutchings said.

All ACPS staff members must take an online course on ALiCE, as well as complete four hours of practical exercise.

In addition to discussing active shooter precautions, ACPS mental health specialist Faiza Jackson spoke about school resources like psychologists, social workers, nurses, and counselors, which are available for students who need help. Such resources are also available during and after active shooter drills.

Jackson also pointed to preventative measures in place at ACPS, like a program that flags student searches for self-harm-related keywords on school-issued laptops to administrators.

The evening meeting was organized by ACPS, Alexandria PTA, and Parents for Safe Alexandria Schools.

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Alexandria is getting its first laser tag arena this winter.

Doyle’s Outpost will be located in the Seminary Plaza Shopping Center in the former AMF Seminary Lanes Bowling Alley at 4620-A Kenmore Ave.

“We’re aiming to open in mid-December,” said owner Kevin Fagan, who formerly owned the Planet Fitness adjacent to the upcoming arena. “But we’ll definitely [be open] before the end of the year.”

Fagan spent $700,000 renovating the space, per construction records filed with the City of Alexandria. In addition to a massive, DC-themed laser tag arena, the 15,400 square-foot space will be home to over 30 arcade games, a Hologate virtual reality center, and a communal space for events and parties.

And for the hungry laser-taggers, Doyle’s Outpost is planning to establish a full-service bar and kitchen with over 25 televisions.

“We’ll have a full kitchen with an elevated menu,” Fagan said. “[And a menu featuring] appetizers, salads, flatbreads, panini sandwiches, craft hot dogs, bowls, and baked pastas.”

According to records with Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control, Doyle’s Outpost applied for a wine and beer permit last November.

Once open, a round of laser tag will cost around $8, Fagan said, with plans to incorporate bundled arcade games-virtual reality-laser offers along with weekday specials.

The nearest laser tag arena to Alexandria is ShadowLand on Franconia Road, south of Four Mile Run in Fairfax County. (Despite its Alexandria mailing address, it is, in fact, in Fairfax). There’s also an UltraZone laser arena in Baileys Crossroads in Arlington.

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Virginia’s first Patagonia flagship store is set to replace the vacant Old Town Theater this coming spring.

“We’re thrilled to be in Old Town, and we look forward to opening our doors in spring 2020,” Patagonia spokesperson Corley Kenna told ALXnow.

The outdoor clothing and gear company caters to adventurers of all sorts — from those looking for a casual fleece to others needing jackets to tackle subzero temperatures.

The nearest Patagonia store is currently in Georgetown, but some of the company’s offerings can be found in department and outdoors stores in the area, including Macy’s, REI, and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

The Old Town Theatre (518 King Street) first opened in 1914 as the “Richmond Theatre. It’s been vacant for more than three years.

Developer Asana Partners acquired the building in 2018, along with several other properties in Old Town. According to its website, the developer aims to bring commercial storefronts to Old Town with the goal of transforming the neighborhood into an “18-hour” community.

During its prime, Old Town Theatre served as the first permanent theater in Alexandria and screened silent movies. Throughout its century-long run, it closed and re-opened several times, before closing for good several years ago . Economic development officials say its reincarnation as a retail store will be a net positive for the community.

“The Old Town Theater is one of the most identifiable buildings along King Street, and has been out of commission for too many years,” said Stephanie Landrum, president and CEO with the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership.

“Today’s business model for successful film and live theater operations requires more space than exists, as a handful of previous operators will attest,” she said. “Asana and Patagonia are investing significant resources to preserve and reuse the building, and will create a memorable and very popular experience that will attract all types of shoppers.”

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After a year in operation, Pendleton Carryout Co. continues to grow with the introduction of breakfast options, app-based delivery services, and more.

On Friday, the food incubator at 807 Pendleton Street in the Braddock neighborhood debuted its brunch menu, serving scratch-made biscuits from Freed’s Biscuit Company. Only available on weekends until noon, customers can order biscuit breakfast sandwiches stuffed with everything from bacon, egg, and cheese to plant-based Beyond Meat patties.

“We figured as the weather gets colder, customers are going to want something a little more warming, a little more hearty,” said co-founder Ed McIntosh. “And who doesn’t love brunch?”

In addition to the biscuits, Herndon-based 100 Bowls of Soup is also new to the eatery. Select soups include curry lentil, Thai sweet potato, and carrot coriander.

“On Friday, we had about three dozen containers of 100 Bowls in our carryout fridge,” McIntosh said. “Now, [on Sunday morning], we’re down to about eight.”

Pendleton Carryout Co. opened last October as the area’s first “restaurant incubator,” featuring a mishmash of cuisines from area chefs, all crafted from the same kitchen and available for takeout. (Limited seating is available at a single countertop).

Established rotating brands include Laoban Dumplings, Killa Cakes, and Sliced Pizza and Burgers.

McIntosh said its residential location gets plenty of foot traffic from both its low-key neighbors and people walking from the Braddock Road Metro into Old Town.

And if customers don’t want to make the trek in person, Pendleton Carryout Co. recently joined app-based delivery services like GrubHub, Uber Eats, and DoorDash.

“It’s been an incredible year,” McIntosh said. “I don’t see us slowing down anytime soon.”

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(Updated at 9:30 a.m.) The annual Dance America Rapper Tournament (DART) will take over several pubs in Alexandria this Saturday, October 26, with the public invited to witness the fun.

From 1 p.m. until late into the evening, the sword dancing competition tour will kick off across three pubs in Old Town and end with a celebration at the Durant Arts Center (1605 Cameron Street).

Inspired by British competitions, DART is an organization that hosts an annual competition of American sword dancers.

No, they’re not rhyming verses while swinging swords — “rapper” is a type of old English sword dance dating back to 1715.

According to the event website, “the weekend aims to be a friendly gathering of sword teams, with the added bonus of the rapper competition.”

From approximately 1-3 p.m., different teams will rotate through at rapper competitions at the following pubs:

  • The Light Horse, 715 King Street
  • Columbia Firehouse, 109 South St. Asaph Street
  • Bilbo Baggins Restaurant and Green Dragon Pub, 208 Queen Street

At 3 p.m., all teams will reconvene at the Bilbo Baggins Restaurant for a communal dance.

Afterward, there will be an evening of feasting and celebration at the Durant Arts Center beginning at 6 p.m. At 8 p.m., there will be “Ceilidh Dancing” performances, along with live music from local musicians Frog Hammer and Caroline Barnes.

The Durant Arts Center event will have a $15 admission, along with a cash bar.

Photo via Sligo Creek Sword/Facebook 

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A candlelight vigil and memorial service will be held outside of Market Square next week (301 King Street) to honor those who have died, or are still suffering from, acts of domestic violence.

The event, on Thursday, Oct. 24 from 6:30-8:30 p.m., is hosted by the City of Alexandria’s Domestic Violence Intervention Project (DVIP) to raise awareness of the issue and its prevalence in the city. City officials such as Mayor Justin Wilson and Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter will be present.

A visual memorial will depict 22 people in Alexandria who have lost their lives to acts of domestic violence since the mid-2000s. The vigil will begin with a private viewing for families affected by domestic violence, followed by a public program and reception.

“During the program, we will have a victim read a poem, and then light refreshments will be served,” said Barbara Sweeney, assistant residential coordinator for DVIP.

The vigil is being organized as part of Alexandria’s recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“On Thursday, Oct 24, City employees and the public are invited to wear or display purple to raise awareness about domestic violence,” the city’s website says. “Get involved, take a stand against domestic violence and express solidarity with survivors and their families.”

More from a press release:

The City of Alexandria’s Domestic Violence Intervention Project (DVIP) will host a Silent Witness Candlelight Vigil and Memorial program on October 24, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., in Market Square (301 King St.). This public event is designed to raise awareness about domestic violence and create a space of healing through a visual memorial, which will include life-sized silhouettes of those in Alexandria who have lost their lives to acts of domestic violence.

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive or coercive behavior such as physical assault, verbal abuse, or threat of harm that is used by an individual to exert power or control over another, particularly in the context of a family or intimate relationship. Acts of domestic abuse can be perpetrated by a current or former spouse or partner as well as a parent, stepparent or other relative, and can occur in relationships such as dating between people who do not live together and persons in same-sex relationships.

In 1990, the Silent Witness Initiative began promotion and education to support an end to domestic violence through community-based exhibits. It started with a small group of volunteers in one state and grew into an international presence, with projects in all 50 states and in 23 countries. DVIP participates in Silent Witness Alexandria as one of many activities during the national observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The event will include a private viewing for affected families affected by domestic violence, followed by a public program and reception.

To learn more about the Silent Witness Initiative, or for more information about domestic violence and the Alexandria Domestic Violence Project, visit alexandriava.gov/DomesticViolence. If you or someone you know may be a victim of domestic violence, call 703.746.4911 to speak with someone about services offered. If someone is in immediate danger, always call or text 911.

Photo via City of Alexandria

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