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Vola’s Dockside Grill is filing a permit to make its outdoor seating permanent, though the application also seemingly kills off any hope to see Riverside Taco return.

The application from Alexandria Restuarant Partners (ARP) includes details of a few changes at the area, including a proposal to take over management of some of the waterfront’s few public restrooms.

“Applicant currently holds two special use permits for these areas,” the application said. “First is for Vola’s Dockside Grill at 101 N. Union. [Second] is for 105 N Union, parcel 4B, for an Arts & Crafts market including ancillary food service at Riverside Taco Company.”

But the application said the dreams of an Alexandria waterfront taco truck were derailed by the pandemic and that space will likely be permanently converted to seating — its current use.

“During the pandemic, the applicant closed Riverside Taco and instead used the 4B parcel as a socially distanced seating area for Vola’s,” the applicant said. “Based on the above conditions, the applicant has determined the best use of the 4B parcel is to continue to use this area for Vola’s seating.”

The application also said that ARP could also take over some of the adjacent restrooms to ensure adequate public access.

“Similar to ARP’s arrangement with the City at Robinson Landing, the applicant is offering to take over management of the City-owned restrooms adjacent to the 4B parcel in order to ensure that there are adequate public facilities from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week,” the application said.

The application is scheduled for review at the Tuesday, Sept. 6 Planning Commission meeting.

The application comes as Vola’s neighbors will have to start filing permits to make their own outdoor seating arrangements permanent as the city moves to start enforcing sidewalk dining restrictions again in September.

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Alexandria Restaurant Partners is expanding their operations to D.C.’s Union Market. The company has bought the property at 400 Morse Street and plans to open its second Palette 22 location in late 2023.

ARP opened its first Palette 22 location in Shirlington in 2017, and the new restaurant at 400 Morse Street NE will be a reimagining of the concept. It will still serve small plates and global street food.

“We want to create an interactive experience for our guests,” said ARP Partner Dave Nicholas. “Our vision is ‘Palette 2.0’ – with the design, layout of the two-story space, and menu – the customer experience will be taken to the next level. We will be featuring interactive elements like a variety of cooking stations where patrons can see and watch the culinary ‘exhibition’. Here, we’re interested in redefining what an open kitchen can be.”

Alexandria Restaurant Partners also owns Mia’s Italian KitchenVola’s Dockside GrillRiverside Taco CompanyJoe Theismann’s Restaurant, The MajesticAda’s on the River and Barca Pier and Wine Bar. The company also owns a Mia’s Italian Kitchen and Café Tu Tu Tango in Orlando, Florida.

“We’ve been watching Union Market develop, and we love the energy and sense of community,” said ARP Partner Scott Shaw. “We are deeply involved in the other communities we currently operate in and look forward to doing the same here. In terms of the concept, we think the Palette 22 – small plates, global street food, and local artists onsite – fit perfectly into the neighborhood and complements the nearby Union Market food hall. We also think Palette 22 fills a gap in the market, offering a high energy, approachable concept for a younger audience.”

Via Facebook

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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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Morning Notes

Alexandria health director reflects on sudden retirement, tenure with city — “When Dr. Stephen Haering, director of the Alexandria Health Department for the past 11 years, unexpectedly announced his retirement on April 9, he did so for what he called ‘deeply personal’ reasons. Haering, whose retirement was effective immediately according to a city news release, told the Times in an interview that his departure was ‘not associated with the pandemic response.'” [Alex Times]

Vaccination drive brings a dose of hope for restaurant workers — “More than 1,000 restaurant and small business employees have filed through the doors of the old Fireflies restaurant over the past few weeks with the same purpose: receiving COVID-19 vaccinations. The location’s current vacancy made this the perfect site to administer such a large number of shots, Bill Blackburn, restaurateur and co-owner of Homegrown Restaurant Group, said. Blackburn joined forces with community organizer Charlotte Hall and Scott Shaw of Alexandria Restaurant Partners – who donated the space – to orchestrate the Alexandria Restaurant Drive whereby restaurant workers could receive vaccinations in a streamlined way.” [Alex Times]

Bren Mar Park demolition project to begin — “Demolition work will begin at Bren Mar Park on Collier Lane and Edsall Road in Alexandria, Virginia, as the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) removes a home on the property.” [Fairfax County]

Reimagined ‘Taste Of Old Town North’ to be held over 2 months — “The Reimagined Taste of Old Town North will start on April 21 and will continue through June 21. During the two-month period, residents can purchase a Taste Passport for $10 to use at participating businesses. These businesses will offer discounts to Passport holders.” [Patch]

Today’s weather — “Intervals of clouds and sunshine (during the day). High 63F. Winds WNW at 10 to 20 mph… A few clouds from time to time (in the evening). Low 44F. Winds NW at 10 to 20 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Taekwondo instructors and camp counselors — “Our growing company is currently seeking motivated and enthusiastic individuals who are GREAT with people to join our team at multiple locations. Our programs include martial arts classes for all ages, as well as After-school & Summer Camp programs for children 6-12 years old. Work hours tend to fall in the afternoons, evenings and Saturday mornings. This is a part-time position that can lead to a full-time position with excellent opportunity for advancement.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Private School, The Linder Academy, to Open in Old Town — “The Linder Academy, a private K-8 school, submitted a special use permit application to open a location at 601, 607 and 609 S. Washington St. and 710 Gibbon St. According to the application, the school will serve up to 105 students and 14-16 teachers and staff. There is a proposed outdoor play area in the courtyard between 601 and 607 S. Washington St.” [Alexandria Living]

Homegrown Restaurant Group vaccinates 300+ restaurant workers — “HGR volunteering today at the Alexandria Restaurant Vaccination Drive! 330 workers from 29 different restaurants will be vaccinated by the end of day. Many thanks to all the volunteers and to Alexandria Restaurant Partners for donating space to make this happen.” [Facebook]

City seeking artwork for Old Town North storm drain covers — “The City will commission up to three (3) artists to create up to two (2) original, site specific designs with a budget of $2,000 to design their artworks. The designs will be cast on approximately 24 stormwater covers throughout Old Town North, with a focus on Fairfax Street.  Artists will be required to visit the area and create a design that is representative and inspired by Old Town North.” [Zebra]

Alexandria Wedding Showcase giving away a $15K elopement package — More info on the prizes page at alexandriaweddingshowcase.com. The showcase starts April 17!” [Facebook]

Today’s weather — “Partly cloudy skies (during the day). High around 70F. Winds ESE at 10 to 15 mph… Cloudy with light rain developing after midnight. Low 52F. Winds SE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 70%.” [Weather.com]

New job: Barca Pier offering $250 bonus for bussers, food runners and hosts — “Are you searching for a SEASONAL POSITION? We would love to have you on our team!! We are offering a $250-dollar WELCOME bonus along with the ability to make serious money, we have full and part time openings for HOSTS, SERVER ASSISTANTS and RUNNERS (PERFECT FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS!) to join a growing Restaurant Company. We would love to meet you this week!! Please come prepared to Interview with a resume A MASK is required for Entrance, we are hiring on the SPOT with Positions starting ASAP!” [Indeed]

Photo via Homegrown Restaurant Group/Facebook

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Morning Notes

COVID-19 Deaths Now at 94 in Alexandria — “The latest update from the City on COVID-19: 2,929 Alexandrians vaccinated; 3 additional deaths (94 total); Positive tests up 80 to 8,387 in the City (637 in last 7 days); 7-day Positivity Rate up to 10.5% 2 new hospitalizations.” [Twitter]

Northam Says Virginia Ready for Inauguration — “Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said his state is ‘ready’ as the FBI warned of possible violent demonstrations at capitols across the country, ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.” [Twitter]

Mayor Says Volunteers Needed for Vaccination Efforts — “As we dramatically expand our vaccination effort and prepare for the long-haul, we will need many more volunteers. We need those with medical training and without to join our Alexandria Medical Reserve Corps. Please sign-up today!” [Twitter]

Ada’s On The River Opens on the Waterfront — “It was a dilapidated warehouse. We backed out a couple of times. We thought originally this might be too far south; it’s not King and Union, but it’s awesome. The pedestrian traffic is amazing.” [Alexandria Living]

Virtual Events Planned for George Washington Birthday Celebration — “This year marks the 289th anniversary of George Washington’s birth. Next month, his adopted hometown will introduce new and virtual events to celebrate. Unfortunately, because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the annual parade has been cancelled. But there are still exciting events planned for residents to enjoy.” [Zebra]

Alexandria Police Permanent Medication Drop-off Temporarily Closed — “The Permanent Medication Drop Box at Alexandria Police Headquarters will be closed from today, January 14 – January 25.” [Twitter]

Today’s Weather — “Mostly cloudy with some showers in the afternoon. High 53F. Winds ESE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 70%… Rain early (in the evening)… then remaining cloudy with showers late. Low near 35F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 100%. Rainfall near a quarter of an inch.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Front Desk Clerk — “Borger Management, Inc. has an opportunity for a customer service enthusiast interested in working as a part-time Concierge from 3 PM – 11 PM Fridays, Saturdays, and holidays.” [Indeed]

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Alexandria’s newest waterfront restaurant has officially targeted Thursday, Jan. 14 as its opening.

Alexandria Restaurant Partners announced in a press release that Ada’s on the River (3 Pioneer Mill Way) will open next Thursday with dinner reservations currently available.

“Located at 3 Pioneer Mill Way at Robinson Landing, Ada’s on the River will feature spectacular waterfront views and an extensive menu including a selection of prime steaks, fresh seafood and vegetarian dishes cooked to perfection by the wood-fired oven,” Alexandria Restaurant Partners said in a press release.

According to a press release, the restaurant will be dinner-only for its first week, but will extend to lunch and weekend brunches by the end of the month.

“The waterfront is prime and ready for new dining experiences, especially one that lends itself to outdoor dining,” ARP partner Dave Nicholas said in the press release. “Ada’s 105-seat patio will be a great attraction in the area and the water views from inside are the perfect complement the extensive coal-fired menu during the winter months.”

ARP is also planning to open BARCA Pier & Wine Bar, a new restaurant built from converted shipping containers, on the waterfront at Robinson Landing in spring 2021.

Rendering via Alexandria Restaurant Partners

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What a year, right?

Even though the fireworks, scavenger hunt and live musical performances have been called off, there are still opportunities to get a taste of Alexandria this New Year’s Eve.

Alexandria’s 26th annual First Night celebration has been modified due to COVID-19, and the health department is asking residents to stay home.

In the meantime, if you’re trying to remember/forget 2020, here is some New Year’s entertainment:

Food and Drink

No alcohol will be sold in Virginia past 10 p.m., and there are still tickets available for a number of in-person events.

These local restaurants have New Year’s deals:

  • Blackwall Hitch‘s $40 special includes 12 ounces of Black Angus prime rib, asparagus with lemon butter sauce, roasted rosemary potatoes, and a salad
  • Captain Gregory‘s is hosting a limited seating New Year’s Eve party
  • The Fish Market is open for takeout and in-person dining until 12:30 a.m.
  • Gadsby’s Tavern is offering in-person meals at 5:30, 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.
  • Hummingbird will be open for brunch and is serving dinner to-go
  • Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap is offering a $99 dinner for two with a $50 wine pairing
  • Le Refuge has dinner reservations available at 5, 7 and 9 p.m. for three and four-course meals with a glass of champagne
  • Magnolia’s On King has a $90 dinner and wine package for two and $160 package for four
  • Murphy’s Grand Irish Pub is offering to-go New Year’s packages
  • Northside 10 is offering all-you-can-eat oysters for $35 per person
  • Pork Barrel BBQ is featuring a $59.95 salmon dinner for four, which includes a five piece portion of house smoked salmon, two quarts of sides, cornbread and award-winning barbecue sauce
  • The Sushi Bar‘s $99.95 New Year’s Eve platter includes four house rolls, four signature rolls, salads and 12 ounces of sake
  • Tempo Restaurant has a $52 per person dinner package, which includes a three course dinner and drinks
  • Village Brauhaus will toast the German New Year at 6 p.m

Find more Alexandria restaurant offerings here.

Visit Alexandria also recommends that residents watch Wonder Woman 1984, which includes an action scene at what used to be one of the coolest places in town — Landmark Mall.

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(Updated 4:25 p.m.) Alexandrians are being urged not to travel or gather in groups for the holidays, so Alexandria Restaurant Partners is putting together a series of specials to diners to take home and enjoy in 2-4 sized groups.

“Always committed to providing a total guest experience, this year’s ARP Christmas menus feature a la carte, Prix fixe, and packaged to-go menu options highlighting innovative twists on classic holiday dishes,” a spokesperson for the restaurant group said.

Alexandria Restaurant Partners owns  Mia’s Italian KitchenVola’s Dockside GrillRiverside Taco CompanyJoe Theismann’s RestaurantPalette 22 and The Majestic — with Ada’s on the River and Barca Pier and Wine Bar coming soon.

“For only $29/person, readers will be impressed with Mia’s Italian Kitchen’s affordable and delicious 3-course prix-fixe featuring starters like Pei Mussels, or Crispy Fried Artichokes, a choice of 2 entrees Frutti Di Mare, or Slow Cooked Prime Beef Ragu and a choice between two decadent desserts,:Chocolate Covered Cannoli or Chocolate Panna Cotta,” the press release said.

The family packages were $119 for a group of four or $69 for two. The packages include five dishes served cold with reheating instructions.

There are similar packages available at

  • Theismann’s — $139 for a serving of 4-6 with the option of doubling the sides for an additional $60.
  • The Majestic — $159 to-go dinner
  • Palette 22 — small plates ranging from $16-$5
  • Riverside Taco Company — $29 for two starters and entrees
  • Vola’s Dockside Grill — dishes serve 6-8 and range from $75 cheesecake to $59 crab mac and cheese

“All ARP Christmas To-Go menus can be placed directly through the desired restaurant’s website or by phone through December 21st,” according to the press release. “Order pickups will be available on Dec. 24 or Dec. 25th, 12-6 p.m.”

Also, buying a gift card of $100 value will come with a bonus $20 gift card.

Staff photo by James Cullum

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Morning Notes

Waterfront Shipping Container Bar Starts to Take Shape — “On Monday morning, the shipping containers were moved from the barge to the pier for a portion of the restaurant.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

Drop Boxes Announced for Medication Disposal — “Unwanted medication can be dropped off at one of these 3 locations. Do not flush unwanted medications down the toilet or drain.” [Twitter]

Alexandria Earns Perfect Ratings on Municipal Equality Index — “According to the HRC website, the MEI measures the inclusiveness of residents in cities around the county who identify as LGBTQ+. This year, Alexandria received a perfect score of 100 percent on the index.” [Zebra]

Final Report Released on CARES Act Funds — “While we await additional Federal action, it is important to recognize how the City has quickly put the $27.8M we have received to benefit the residents and small businesses of our community.” [Twitter]

Episcopal High School Seeking English Teacher — “Episcopal High School is looking for a full-time English teacher beginning in the fall of 2021. Candidates must be prepared to teach students at every level in this four-year boarding school.” [NAIS Career Center]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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