Newsletter

A Bonchon Chicken franchise plans to open its doors in December in the Bradlee Shopping Center, ALXnow has learned.

It’s the first Korean fried chicken franchise for Maryland-based owner Stanely Grabowski, who says he wants to open more locations in the area.

“We’re looking for locations right now,” he said. “This is a really good area. I think we have a lot of traffic, a lot of visibility here. This shopping center is a really good shopping center, too.”

When it opens, the location at 3690 King Street will keep Alexandria residents from traveling to Arlington and the Alexandria part of Fairfax County to get their fix.

“When I tried the food I was blown away by it,” Grabowski said. “I’d never had chicken that tastes like this. Basically when it was time to figure out what franchise I wanted to do it was a no-brainer.”

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Morning Notes

Bun Papa in Belle View expands into D.C. — “Its with gratitude and great excitement that I get to share that therealbunpapa is taking a giant step forward tonight… with the launch of our new (and second) location inside of Capital One Arena in Washington, DC!” [Facebook]

Alexandria Ranks Among Top Cities for Office-to-Residential Conversions — “Alexandria is a leader nationwide in converting under-used office space to residences, according to a new study from RentCafe.com.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

Alexandria Restaurant Partners hands-off planned Del Ray restaurant site to another operator — “Alexandria Restaurant Partners has backed away from plans to open a new restaurant in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood, but it’s not abandoning the site entirely.” [Washington Business Journal]

Metro 7000-Series Safety Problems Could Have Led To ‘Catastrophic Event,’ Service Limited This Week — “Metro says reduced train service will continue at least throughout the week as its newest 7000-series trains remained sidelined because of safety issues.” [DCist]

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A new report from DASH shows that the bus network has received significantly fewer angry public calls about the new bus network overhaul than had earlier been expected.

A report made at a meeting of the Alexandria Transit Company’s Board of Directors last week indicated that the bus systems’ new DASH network has been a success in terms of recent complaints. According to the network’s customer service report call volumes and complaints regarding DASH operations have fallen below projections for the month of September. 

The report breaks down the number of calls and complaints made in the first four weeks after the networks’ launch on Sept. 6. The projections forecasted 1,050 calls to be made over that time period, however, the actual call numbers were 524 which is slightly less than half of the projected number. The best number came in at week 2 where the actual call volume came in at 93 calls down from a projected 250 calls.

All the calls made to DASH were in regards to questions about bus routes and schedules. 

Another encouraging number from the report was the number of complaint calls made to the customer service line. The total amount of calls for the four weeks came in at 43 which fell far below expectations.

The report also contained a rare sight of four commendations made to the customer service line about good performance from buses. It was noted in the meeting that this number of commendations was over the usual of what they would normally receive in a month which had been one to two at most. This number of commendations is also considered a rare occurrence by DASH authorities, especially when major changes such as the launch of the DASH network occur.

Board Chair David Kaplan reported that DASH received recognition for the network at an event held at the Van Dorn Street Station on Sept. 22. Alexandria City Mayor Justin Wilson presented the recognition to DASH Director of Planning and Scheduling Martin Barna, who was touted by Kaplan as being a longtime proponent in the development of the network.

At the same meeting, the bill for the new fare-free policy also came in.

The board was presented with the General Manager’s Proposed Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2023 which showed the Dash network’s operating costs for that year to be projected at a combined $637,578 for the network’s operations and maintenance. The projected budget shows an increase of $3.1 million or 13.5 percent for a total of $26.9 million.

This increase comes not just from the Dash Network itself but from the change over to 24/7 service, expansions funded by the Interstate 395 Commuter Choice Program, and operating at a fare-free status. The Alexandria City Council has applied for funding from the Virginia Transit Ridership Incentive Program which if accepted could bring in $7.2 million over the course of four years. 

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Dreams of the long-planned Yates Pizza Palace (3000 Duke Street) are likely dead as the owner of the stalled development has filed a permit to sign the location over to be used as a hub for food delivery, the Washington Business Journal reported.

The Business Journal reported that a change of ownership permit indicates that the pizza restaurant — formerly Generous George’s Positive Pizza & Pasta Place — will be owned by a company affiliated with Reef Technology, a firm that converts spaces into neighborhood kitchens.

Yates Pizza Palace had been in the works since 2014 when Jeffrey Yates Sr., owner of Yates Car Wash and Table Talk, purchased the space. Those plans came unraveled in 2018 when Yates Sr. died after a battle with bladder cancer. In 2019, his son, Jeffrey Yates Jr., said he planned to open the restaurant with his wife Kelly Yates in 2020 — which proved to be a singularly unfortunate timing in terms of opening a new restaurant.

The Busieness Journal noted that the permit indicated that the new space will be used for making and delivering goods, like ice cream or bakery items, but that there will be no seating.

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Alexandria City High School rallied in the final moments to send their homecoming game into overtime Friday night, but it just wasn’t enough. The West Potomac Wolverines edged their way to a 22-21 win.

The evening included an unexpected appearance by world champion sprinters Noah and Josephus Lyles, who watched the game from the sidelines with ACHS Principal Peter Balas and Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr.

The Titans now have a record of 4-4 and will play this Friday at home against the West Springfield Spartans.

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(Updated at 425 p.m. Tuesday, October 19) Alexandria has reached yet another grim milestone, as the city surpassed 14,000 reported cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

As of today (Monday, October 18), the number of cases has climbed to 14,070, up 171 cases since this time last week.

The number of cases for children under 12 is “unexpectedly” high, accounting for 287 cases in August and September, according to the Alexandria Health Department.

“Children under 12 years old are not yet eligible for vaccination, which is likely a contributor to this result,” AHD reported.

The death toll remains at 148.

The seven day average of daily new cases reported is 22, the seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases for every 100,000 people is 13.9, down from 15.8 last week. There have been about 197 cases reported in the last two weeks, and the seven-day average of positive COVID-19 tests is 3.1%, according to the the Virginia Department of Health.

In the meantime, 100.5% of Alexandria’s 12-17-year-olds (7,376 kids) have gotten at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 88% (6,462) have been fully vaccinated according to VDH. Just over 69% (90,310) of residents over the age of 18 have been vaccinated, a have about 80% (15,551) of seniors.

How is 100.5% possible for Alexandria’s 12-17-year-olds? Natalie Talis, a population health manager with the Alexandria Health Department said that VDH uses National Center for Health Statistics population estimates, and that the vaccines administered exceed the population estimates.

“We have heard that VDH will start to use 2020 census data, but we are not sure when,” Talis said. “Any time population estimates are used, there is a risk of a discrepancy.”

There have also been 41 cases reported in Alexandria City Public Schools in October. There were also 64 cases reported last month in ACPS.

Alexandria has experienced high transmission since mid-August, while Manassas Park is the only locality in Virginia seeing moderate transmission. Arlington County, Fairfax County, Fairfax City and Charles City have moved from high to “substantial” transmission.

Find vaccine providers in Alexandria here. If you feel sick, get tested.

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New data from tax collection over the summer shows a minor rebound for sales and meals in Alexandria, but while it’s a positive sign, Mayor Justin Wilson cautioned that they don’t quite tell the full picture.

In March, local sales tax revenue reached a high of nearly $3 million. Since the start of the year, sales tax revenue has been higher than it was in those respective months the last two years, but the fact that COVID-19 seemed to have a negligible impact on sales last summer indicates that most of that is driven by online sales rather than local business, which Wilson confirmed.

“Sales tax strong,” Wilson wrote on Facebook, “but driven by online sales.”

The brighter news was for the restaurant industry, where meals tax revenue overshot even 2019’s numbers in both June and July. As of the end of August, the city had collected $2.6 million in meals tax revenue as compared to $2.3 last year, which had been boosted by a strong start to the year before those figures tanked in March and April.

But transient lodging tax figures remain abysmal: $776,805 total as compared to $312,598 last year. Regionally, hotels have faced an uphill battle toward recovery, with hotels around the region estimated to lose $2.3 billion in revenue this year.

Last year, Kendel Taylor, the city’s director of finance, warned that full economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic could be at least two years away. While the numbers are promising, Wilson warned there is still more work to do to get the city’s businesses back on track.

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Morning Notes

Metro running at 40% today — “As part of the investigation into the Blue Line derailment, Metro is holding out of service all of its 7000-series railcars, which is about 60% of its rail fleet. Without these rail cars, Metro will operate about 40 trains tomorrow.” [Metro]

Alexandria’s Communications Director Appointed To New Position With Governor’s Office — “The city’s longtime Director of Communications and Public Information, Craig Fifer, has been appointed to a new position. He has been selected by Gov. Northam to serve as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for the Commonwealth of Virginia, effective Oct. 25.” [Zebra]

3rd Annual Taste of Ethiopia Festival celebrated in Old Town — “After hitting the doors, here enjoying the 3rd Annual Taste of Ethiopia Festival at Oronoco Bay Park.” [Twitter]

Bennett-Parker and Maddox face off in race to House of Delegates — “With the Nov. 2 general election only a few weeks away, the race for the 45th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates is heating up between Democrat Elizabeth Bennett-Parker and Republican Justin David Maddox.” [Alexandria Times]

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This week saw possibly the most contentious meeting between the City Council and School Board in years for a debate over School Resources Officers that ultimately culminated in the Council voting to temporarily restore the program. The reversal has been advocated by school officials and some parents, but was lamented by advocacy group Tenants and Workers United that saw it as a step-backward for racial justice.

The following day, ACPS was also hit with lockdowns at Alexandria City High School’s King Street and Minnie Howard campuses and Hammond Middle School, though police later said initial calls about a school shooting were unfounded. At the same time, a gas leak near Potomac Yard led to two homes being evacuated and the temporary closure of Richmond Highway.

Here are this week’s most-read stories.

Top Stories

  1. Man injured and juvenile arrested after fight at the McDonald’s in Bradlee Shopping Center
  2. In dramatic reversal, City Council brings back school resource officers to Alexandria City Public Schools
  3. Planned bus rapid transit route from Alexandria to Tysons rolls ahead
  4. Alexandria City High School on lockdown after anonymous threat
  5. Police: Call about shooting at Hammond Middle School unfounded
  6. City rethinks waterfront flood mitigation plans after seeing the price tag
  7. Tenants and Workers United upset by City Council restoration of school resource officer program
  8. City Council to consider swapping parking for ‘parklets’
  9. Man attempts to steal $1,850 in merchandise from Restaurant Depot with discarded receipt
  10. Project crowdsourcing Alexandria history aims to go nationwide next year
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Alexandria School Board member Kelly Carmichael Booz (left), Beverly Vick (center), Gregory Hutchings (right), photo via Scholarship Fund of Alexandria/Facebook

The Scholarship Fund of Alexandria has raised enough funding to establish a new scholarship that will be named after a beloved former teacher.

The recently retired Beverly Vick was a highly regarded teacher at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School for 38 years and received the Excellence in Education award in 2009. Vick also worked with children through the American Girl Literature Club.

Dr. Vick officially celebrated her retirement from teaching in early October.

The fund has raised over $6,000 for the Dr. Beverly Vick Scholarship, which will be awarded to a 2022 graduate of Alexandria City High Schools in the spring. The original goal for the scholarship was to raise $3,000 which was then matched by an anonymous donor for a grand total of $6,341. Including the anonymous donor, 30 people lent their support by donating to the new scholarship.

The Scholarship Fund of Alexandria was established in 1986 to provide support for college students who are judged as bright and hard-working. In addition to scholarships, the fund also offers advising on college, financial aid, and readiness support. The fund awards up to $1 million a year in scholarships to Alexandria City High School graduates.

The scholarships range from $12,000 to $20,000 over four years and are funded through donations from the Alexandria community.

Photo via Scholarship Fund of Alexandria/Facebook

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