Two Alexandria restaurant groups have been nominated as the top performers in their industry as part of the 40th annual Rammy Awards.
The Bun Papa pop-up, which is located in the Beeliner Diner at the Bradlee Shopping Center, is nominated for outstanding pop-up concept. This is their second nomination in a row since being nominated as the region’s best pop-up spot.
It’s also the second year in a row that the Neighborhood Restaurant Group has been nominated, although this year the nomination goes to NRG’s Michael Babin for restaurateur of the year. The company, which owns 19 local eateries, was awarded a Rammy last year for the most impressive pandemic pivot to provisions or market.
Public voting for the eventual winners begins this month, and the awards will be presented in a gala at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on July 24.
Bun Papa owner Markos Panas is asking that his customers rally for his pop-up with their votes.
“It’s an honor already to be nominated as a business, and we want to bring this thing forward with the support of all Alexandria and take home the win for everybody,” Panas said.
The commission asked for nominations and also toured the city looking for candidates that “speak to the character and future of the City, inspire others to enhance the beauty and architecture of their properties and help make Alexandria a creative, dynamic community.”
Properties were evaluated on criteria including aesthetic improvements through creative design, historical restoration or commitment to the art of architecture and sustainable design practices, according to a news release.
“Architecture says a lot about a neighborhood and City and the value residents and business place on the community in which they live and work,” Commission Chair Steve Cohen said. “Great architecture, like those recognized this year, encourage us to get out, enjoy our City, and meet our friends and neighbors. It also inspires each of us to do our part to make Alexandria an even more amazing place to live, work, and visit.”
Cohen said he was impressed with the diversity of this year’s recipients, which represented a range of architectural style and purposes.
The award winners were:
Robinson Landing, featuring 26 condominiums and 70 townhomes, was recognized for its innovative architectural design, that incorporates historical elements and lessons, and creates a beautiful public gathering place for all Alexandrians and visitors. Judges also took note of the great care and time your firm took in the archeological work during the excavation phase.
Eisenhower Square development by Toll Brothers, featuring a modern 67-home luxury development, was recognized for its innovative architecture that enhances the City with a walkable, visually stimulating neighborhood.
Beaconcrest Homes and the owners of 128 and 128A East Walnut Street were recognized for an innovative architectural design that expands our notion of a residential duplex, with modern, clean lines and a refreshing style.
The Adams’ residence at 1208 Trinity Drive was recognized for a design that incorporated modern, clean lines and style while incorporating historical elements that evoke the sense of tradition, history, and neighborliness Alexandria is known for.
Alexandria’s Florence King, a 2021 City Council candidate who died in December, has been posthumously awarded Volunteer Alexandria’s top award.
Volunteer Alexandria’s 2021 Volunteers are the Heart of Alexandria awards gala has been canceled due to Covid, but top honors were still announced on Monday (Feb. 15).
King, a 2018 Living Legend of Alexandria, received the Marian Van Landingham Lifetime Achievement Award for consistently serving the community over her lifetime. That work included 25 years as a city election officer, and as chair of the city’s Commission on Employment, chair of Agenda: Alexandria and vice chair of the city’s Historical Resources Commission.
“The donation of time, talents and skills of our community’s volunteers makes Alexandria a better place for all of us,” said Mayor Justin Wilson. “Without volunteers, our hard-working non-profits would not be able to fulfill their missions and we couldn’t do what we do to serve our most vulnerable residents.”
Last year, more than 1,760 people donated 62,560 hours to Visit Alexandria. That’s a value of $1.8 million, said the nonprofit’s Executive Director Marion Brunken.
“It is amazing, how many people serve our community and families in need,” Brunken said.
- Joan White Grassroots Volunteer Service Award — Eldon Boes
- Joan White Grassroots Volunteer Service Award — Linda Thoms
- RSVP Volunteer Service Awardee — Barbara Sherlock
- RSVP Volunteer Service Awardee — Tami Stuckey
- ASCEND Alexandria Youth Service Volunteer Award — Fatima Eldawah and Ian McDonough
- Emergency Preparedness Volunteer Service Award — The Alexandria Medical Reserve Corps and the Community Emergency Response Team
More than 1,000 voters cast ballots for the spot that captured the heart of the community. The Del Ray Business Association presented the restaurant with a large heart-shaped award on Friday morning — just in time for Valentine’s Day on Monday, Feb. 14.
“It’s a great anchor for Del Ray and reinforces what we’re all about — the small, locally owned family business,” said DRBA board member Gayle Reuter. “They know their customers, and we know them. It’s what we look for in a community — a place where we all know and care about each other.”
Lena’s has been widely recognized for transforming the restaurant into creative and Covid-conscious dining spaces with Haiku fans to kill airborne pathogens. The second floor was converted into The Loft at Lena’s, a seasonal pop-up with new concepts and menus, and the top of their parking deck was made into the tropical retreat Lena’s Oasis.
“Lena’s didn’t just put up a tent with tables outside,” wrote one nominator. “They recognized people needed an escape during COVID, so they created an elevated dining experience — and it changes with the seasons!”
Lena’s is owned and operated by Alexandria Living Legends Jason and Loran Yates. It opened in 2015 at “Yates Corner” at Braddock Road and Mount Vernon Avenue, and is next door to Yates Dry Cleaning and across the street from the Yates Automotive Service Center.
“The past year has been hard on all of us,” Lena’s said on its website. “We created Lena’s Oasis to say ‘thank you’ and to give back to this wonderful community that has supported us through thick and thin for more than 57 years. An oasis is something calm in the midst of chaos. So, come to our safe space and relax for a while. You deserve it. We will get through this together.”
The other nominees:
- St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub
- Stomping Ground
- The Dog Store/Your Dog’s Best Friends
- Windmill Hill Design Build
A number of local nonprofits are rolling up their sleeves to increase outreach for COVID-19 vaccines for children with families ages 5-11.
The “Sleeves Up, ALX: COVID-19 Vaccine Partnership Program” is a collaboration between ACT for Alexandria and the Alexandria Health Department, which dispersed $145,657 in grant funding to increase awareness of booster shots with populations disproportionately affected by the virus and provide information for young families.
“These organizations bring that critical message to our underserved communities by meeting people where they are and in the language they prefer,” said Natalie Talis, AHD’s population health manager. “Our residents deserve access to life-saving information and vaccines.”
The following nonprofits received grant funds:
- African Communities Together
- Capital Youth Empowerment Program
- Communities In Schools NOVA
- EnDependence Center of Northern Virginia
- Restoration Immigration Legal Aid
- Senior Services of Alexandria
- Tenants and Workers United
“These organizations have the trusted relationships, innovative ideas and know how that will enable us to reach neighbors who are most at-risk,” said ACT’s President and CEO Heather Peeler.
The program started last month and will run until March 2022.
City’s Torpedo Factory plans concern artists — “A recent presentation from the Office of the Arts outlining several proposed options for how to renovate the Torpedo Factory has led to pushback from artists, who claim the city’s plans would radically and irrevocably change the historic art center.” [Alexandria Times]
Alexandria man convicted of armed fentanyl trafficking — “A federal jury convicted an Alexandria man yesterday on charges of conspiracy, possession, and distribution of fentanyl and Eutylone, and being a felon in possession of a firearm during drug trafficking.” [Department of Justice]
Alexandria micro-roasters talk beans, brews and batches — “A few Alexandrians are taking their passion for coffee to the next level and roasting their own beans and selling them in small batches.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]
City of Alexandria wins 3 awards for employee wellness program — “The City of Alexandria is the winner of three awards for a wellness program designed to help its employees.” [Zebra]
Scott Shaw named Chamber’s 2021 Business Leader of the Year — “For the last six years, he has served as a partner of Alexandria Restaurant Partners (ARP). ARP operates nine restaurants including The Majestic and Theismann’s Restaurant… Outside of the restaurant industry, Shaw established Founders Hall and co-founded ALX Community. His community involvement includes serving as Chair of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership. In this position… In 2017, Shaw founded the Tall Ship Providence Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving Alexandria’s rich maritime history through educational programs and entertainment.” [Zebra]
Rep. Beyer says he’s working on securing stormwater management funding for Alexandria — “I’m also working to secure more federal funding for storm and sewer projects in ALX in upcoming infrastructure legislation.” [Twitter]
Alexandria accountant pleads guilty to tax fraud — “An accountant from Alexandria pleaded guilty Wednesday for his role in filing false tax returns that led to over $250,000 in federal tax loss.” [Patch]
Recent T.C. Williams High School graduate dies at 18 — “Tommy Lacey was a towering figure. At 6 feet 5 inches tall, he was a gentle giant with a passion for sports and hanging out with friends at Al’s Steakhouse in Del Ray. A standout lacrosse player, the 2021 graduate of T.C. Williams High School was preparing to attend James Madison University in the fall when he died unexpectedly on Aug. 4.” [Gazette]
Today’s weather — “Partly cloudy. High 91F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph… Scattered thunderstorms during the evening becoming more widespread overnight. Low 72F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 80%.” [Weather.com]
New job: Crew member at Trader Joe’s — “If you have a passion for people and a fervor for food, we’d love to meet you. We can teach you the rest.” [Indeed]
Hotel expansions to increase meeting planning options in Alexandria — “Alexandria is continuing to expand its hotel offerings with an extensive multi-million dollar renovation of the Sheraton Suites Old Town Alexandria…The historic George Mason Hotel is set to undergo restoration in 2021 (and) will have two buildings located in Old Town, and will feature 141 hotel rooms, two restaurants, rooftop dining and outdoor dining. The Hilton Alexandria Mark Center will also begin a $10 million renovation starting in late November, with a target opening of the first week in January 2022.” [Previewmeetings.com]
ALIVE! resumes collecting food — “Community members are welcome to drop off purchased or collected food items at 801 S. Payne St. ALIVE! accepts donations on Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon.” [Zebra]
Neighborhood Restaurant Group honored for pandemic pivot — “Alexandria-based Neighborhood Restaurant Group has been nominated for a RAMMY Award, presented by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW). Their nomination is in a new, coronavirus-influenced category: Most Impressive Pivot to Provisions or Market.” [Alexandria Living]
Locals theorize that bug bites could be tied to cicadas — “The Facebook group members have hatched a theory that these bites are tied to oak itch mites, or pyemotes, which are thought to feed on cicadas eggs. Similar outbreaks of itchy bug bites have coincided with periodic cicada cycles in Chicago and Northern Ohio.” [ARLnow]
Kids restore preschool playground and garden boxes — “Thanks Trinity United Methodist Church youth group & @Volalex Breaks with Impact (BWI) youth group who restored the ALIVE! preschool playground and garden boxes. They’ve been busy weeding, pruning, and cleaning but still needs much more!” [Twitter]
Today’s weather — “Except for a few afternoon clouds, mainly sunny. High 89F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph… Generally fair (in the evening). Low 63F. Winds N at 10 to 15 mph.” [Weather.com]
New job: Anthropologie key holder — “At Anthropologie we tell stories – of products thoughtfully designed, crafted, and curated, and of a collaborative, inventive community. We are, above all, devoted to our customer – to the smart, creative individual who seeks beauty wherever they go.” [Indeed]
ACT For Alexandria CEO wins nonprofit leadership award — “As nonprofit leaders in Greater Washington, Mike Di Marco, Kahina Haynes, and Heather Peeler are invested in improving and advancing their organizations–and themselves. This year, we’re excited to announce them as our fourth annual David Bradt Nonprofit Leadership Awardees. (They) will each receive up to $15,000 to attend an intensive executive training program of their choice.” [The Community Foundation]
City recommends monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms regardless of vaccination status — “Although the vast majority of new COVID-19 cases are among unvaccinated people, those who are fully vaccinated can still contract COVID-19 and are more likely to experience mild illness. Anyone experiencing the following symptoms should get tested: fever or chills; cough; shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; fatigue; muscle or body aches; headache; new loss of taste or smell; sore throat; congestion or runny nose; nausea or vomiting; or diarrhea. Protect yourself and others by getting vaccinated. Find your shot online today.” [City of Alexandria]
ALIVE! gets $100K Safeway grant — “@Safeway Foundation awarded ALIVE! a $100,000 grant to help connect individuals in Alexandria, VA with federal meal programs this summer. The grant is part of Safeway Nourishing Neighbors Community Relief Initiative to fight food insecurity.” [Twitter]
Today’s weather — “Intervals of clouds and sunshine (during the day). High near 85F. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph… Partly cloudy (in the evening). Low near 65F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]
New job: $200 a day tour guide — “Spirited Tours LLC provides day-long winery and brewery tours to D.C. residents and guests who’d like to explore Virginia’s countryside. Seeking a responsible, punctual, and social tour guide/driver to help with winery and brewery tours on weekends. Must be comfortable driving large groups (driving minivan or 15 passenger van).” [Indeed]
Master gardener Joyce Hylton was awarded the Ellen Pickering Environmental Excellence Award by the Alexandria City Council on Tuesday night.
Hylton, a local training coordinator for the Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Training Program, received the award during a virtual City Council meeting. The award, which is the top environmental honor given in the city, is usually handed out in person at the annual Earth Day celebration and cleanup on April 22, but the pandemic forced the event to shift to a virtual format.
“I’m very honored to receive their award, and I want to thank both of Pickering family and Alexandria Renew Enterprises for selecting me,” Hylton said after showing off the award in front of the camera in her home. “But more importantly, I appreciate the efforts of the Pickering family, and Alexandria Renew Enterprises for working to place environmental awareness on par with other governmental considerations as we make decisions for tomorrow.”
The award is named after former City Councilwoman Ellen Pickering, who championed the preservation of Founder’s Park along the waterfront. That effort led to the creation of the Mount Vernon Trail, which runs between Alexandria and Washington, D.C.
“We thank you for giving back in so many ways,” said Mayor Justin Wilson. “You’re clearly a worthy recipient of this award and the legacy of people who have received this award.”
Adriana Caldarelli, an AlexRenew board member, presented Hylton with the award.
“Ms. Hylton has passed along the values of environmental sustainability in her work for over two decades,” Caldarelli said. “Her service to the community as a mentor to over 240 master Gardener volunteers, and a teacher of and expert on sustainable landscaping best practices to so many Alexandrians personifies the Restore The Earth theme of Earth Day 2021.”