Alexandria, VA

It was a short, but news-filled week in Alexandria.

With Monday off in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we started the week running with a COVID-19 update. Cases of COVID-19 in the city now stand at 8,975 and fatalities are at 99. That’s an increase of three deaths and 165 cases since Tuesday, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

Our top story this week was a story that was published before election day in November, when residents with Joe Biden for president signs in their yards received anonymous letters stating that Biden is a pedophile.

Our second most-read story was the widely reported plans to close Atlantis Pizzeria and Family Restaurant.

Wednesday, Jan. 20, brought worldwide attention to Alexandria’s neighboring jurisdiction of Washington D.C. for Biden’s inauguration, and while there were calls from members of the community for a 6 p.m. curfew, there were no reported incidents from protestors in Alexandria.

In fact, Alexandria Sheriff’s deputies and police officers helped during the inauguration by working with regional partners to shut down the 14th Street Bridge to traffic.

In case you missed them, here are a few important posts:

Here are our top stories of the week:

  1. Alexandrians with Joe Biden Yard Signs Get Anonymous Letters Saying Biden is a Pedophile
  2. Atlantis Pizzeria and Family Restaurant Closing on Jan. 24
  3. New Boarding House Planned Over Old Town Barber Shop
  4. Man Charged With DWI After Horrific Crash in West End Parking Lot
  5. Contested Parker-Gray Townhouse Returns to City Tomorrow
  6. Police Chief: Many Recent Shootings in Alexandria Are Related
  7. Curfew Not Likely for Alexandria on Inauguration Day, No Known Threats Detected
  8. BREAKING: Woman Gets Arm Amputated, Police Investigate if She Was Thrown From Car in West End
  9. Vice Mayor Bennett-Parker Asks Alexandria Hotels to Cancel ‘Proud Boy’ Reservations
  10. Local Business in Hot Water with City Architects After Unauthorized Paint Job
  11. COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Expanded, City Says Aggressive Calls to COVID-19 Hotline Not Tolerated

Have a safe weekend!

Photo via Atlantis Restaurant/Facebook

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After nearly 40 years in business, Atlantis Pizzeria and Family Restaurant will close on Jan. 24.

The restaurant’s owners said that the loss of business from the pandemic destroyed the business, and thanked loyal customers for years of support.

“It is with great regret that we will be CLOSING Atlantis Restaurant on January 24th,” owners Jim and Bill Patrianakos wrote on Facebook. “We are deeply saddened that it has come to this point, but the pandemic has proven to be too difficult for us to continue normal business.”

The Greek and Mediterranean restaurant at 3648 King Street in the Bradlee Shopping Center has been open sporadically throughout the pandemic, and has only served carryout. The company website still features daily specials, like fresh, hearty soup by the cup, bowl or gallon.

The news of the closure broke over the weekend, and a number of outlets covered the story, including WTOP, The Zebra, and Patch. Mayor Justin Wilson told Alexandria Living Magazine that Atlantis received back-to-business grants from the city last year, and that the closure is a “tragic loss.”

A number of prominent Alexandrians commented on the closure announcement, including Alexandria City Council member Amy Jackson.

“A lifetime of memories for me. Heartbreaking,” Jackson wrote. “They have been our go-to at least once a week during the pandemic. So sad!”

Del Ray’s Gayle Todson Reuter wrote that it was sad news.

“You have been such an important part of the community,” Reuter wrote.

Photo via Atlantis Restaurant/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Bilbo Baggins Now for Sale — “Longtime Alexandria restaurant and pub Bilbo Baggins has closed its doors for good. The cozy eatery, which opened in 1980, closed in the spring when COVID-19 first struck. Since then, the family-owned restaurant has not reopened and the nearly 4,000-square foot property is now for sale for $2.8 million.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

Reminder: Illegal Starting Jan. 1 to Hold Cell Phone While Driving — “Starting January 1st, the ‘Hands-Free’ law will go into effect. The law makes it illegal to hold a cell phone while driving.” [Twitter]

Goodwin House Residents and Staff Receive Vaccine — “Earlier today, some residents and staff at Goodwin House Alexandria received the vaccine. Before the end of 2020, it is estimated that 125 residents and employees will be vaccinated.” [Zebra]

What’s Open and Closed on New Year’s? — “A week after Christmas, residents will get another holiday with the arrival of 2021. Some services in Alexandria will be closed or modified for the New Year’s holiday.” [Patch]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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It’s been a rough year all around and local businesses faced a difficult recovery from the pandemic, but there were also some islands of good news as well.

ALXnow asked the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership (AEDP) and The Chamber ALX what they saw as the highs and lows for local business this year.

For AEDP, these were some of the highlights from this year:

  • Patagonia opening in the Old Town Theater
  • Chewish Deli / Mas Seafood — a fishmonger partnering with a food truck for a small brick and mortar location, opening where Pendleton Carryout used to be
  • ALX Community opening a second location on the waterfront
  • American Physical Therapy Association soft opening a new headquarters at Potomac Yard, with a full ribbon cutting planned in January.
  • West Alex, a gateway to Alexandria at the King/Beauregard Streets intersection, and Silver Diner opening in the West End
  • “Watching 530 First Street, Edens’ mixed use project that broke ground three years ago (March 2017), come to life as tenants like Sisters Thai, Wooboi Chicken, and Row House joined Oak Steakhouse in Old Town North.”

 Joe Haggerty, President and CEO of The Chamber ALX, agreed that APTA’s new headquarters was a highlight, as well as West Alex opening. Haggerty also singled out:

  • Carpenter Shelter opening a new facility to serve families and homeless individuals
  • Alexandria Restaurant Partners announcing Ada’s on the River, planned to open sometime next year
  • Home Grown Restaurants expand take out in Del Ray and Carlyle. Also, delivered food to workers at voting sites.

Both Haggerty and AEDP acknowledged that there were tragic closures of some local businesses. Haggerty said the one that came to mind was La Tasca, which filed for bankruptcy in May. Haggerty also said the decline of revenue for restaurants, retail and hotel is also a new major challenge.

AEDP said some of the other sad farewells this year for Alexandria were:

Staff photo by James Cullum

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Three years after opening on Mount Vernon Avenue in Arlandria, Pet Valu will close its doors by Dec. 29.

The Canada-based pet store chain announced last month that it was shuttering its 358 locations in the U.S. due to the impact of COVID-19.

Staffers at the Arlandria location told ALXnow that they are waiting for updates from management on when exactly the store will close, and some are even expecting Christmas Eve (Thursday, Dec. 24) to be their last day in business.

“(A)ll stores will be closed by December 29,” Pet Valu replied to a customer on Facebook. “(P)lease call ahead to your local store for more information and for store hours.”

The store is offering sales of 50% to 70% off remaining merchandise. Even the fixtures are for sale.

“The Pet Valu U.S. team is proud to have met the needs of our devoted pet lover customers in the U.S. for more than 25 years,” Jamie Gould, Pet Valu, Inc.’s newly appointed Chief Restructuring Officer, said in a press release. “However, the Company’s stores have been significantly impacted by the protracted COVID-19-related restrictions. After a thorough review of all available alternatives, we made the difficult but necessary decision to commence this orderly wind down.”

Pet Valu at 3819 Mount Vernon Avenue is open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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Women’s clothing and jewelry store Francesca’s (631 King Street) has permanently closed its store at the intersection of King Street and Washington Street.

The store replaced sushi restaurant BumbleFish in 2013. The store is one of 140 across the country being closed as the company files for bankruptcy. The Francesca’s was on the ground floor of the Alfriend Building — constructed in the late 18th century.

On Twitter, locals noted that the business is one of a handful of stores that have closed near the King Street and Washington Street intersection — leaving the block “looking grim.” Nearby women’s clothing store LOFT also closed within the last month.

H/t to @Oldtowndogwalks. Photo via Google Maps

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Honestly, kind of a slow week in Alexandria — must have been the tryptophan in the Thanksgiving turkey.

As we head into the end of the year, the city and many local organizations are working to lay the groundwork for a better 2021. Even as the Campagna Center recoils from cancelling the Christmas Parade, the organization is working to ensure fundraising stays consistent for the local non-profit’s early childhood programs. The City, too, is planning for a looming budget setback when CARES Act funding expires.

On the bright side, unemployment figures continue to go down for Alexandria and adoptions from the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria are on the rise. The West End could also get also be getting that Capital Bikeshare expansion sooner than expected.

Here are ALXnow’s top stories of the week in Alexandria:

  1. Planning Commission Approves Potomac Yard Park Expansion
  2. New Report Recommends Making Voluntary Affordable Housing Contributions Mandatory in Alexandria
  3. Cars Stolen With Fake Checks in Alexandria, Suspects Selling Cars
  4. Alexandria Refines Accessory Dwelling Units Policy and Cuts Parking Requirement
  5. Women’s Clothing Store LOFT Closes in Old Town
  6. Officials Debunk Conservative Study on Registered Alexandria Voters
  7. Alexandria Announces Rolling Expansion of Bikeshare Program to the West End Next Year
  8. Man Shot in Old Town, Police Increase Patrol Coverage with Spike in Shots Fired Calls
  9. Beyer Blasts Metro Plan to Cut Service and Eliminate Alexandria Stations
  10. Del Ray Christmas Tree Lighting Scheduled This Week

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Women’s clothing store LOFT (423 King Street) has permanently closed.

The store had mostly positive reviews and was often busy, but was victim to Ascena Retail Group’s wider bankruptcy filings. The store had survived earlier rounds of closings this summer, which had claimed the stores in the Tysons Corner Center and Potomac Mills Mall but was closed as of early December.

The next closest LOFT locations are in Arlington at Pentagon Row (1201 South Joyce Street) and Clarendon (2700 Clarendon Blvd).

Hat tip to @OldTownDogWalks, photo via Google Maps

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After a decade of serving pizza in Old Town, Pizzeria Paradiso at 124 King Street is closing its doors. But there’s still a chance to get one more pie before the pizzeria says arrivederci.

On Sunday, October 4, Pizzeria Paradiso will serve pizza and souvenirs for the last time. The “walk-by celebration” will start at 1 p.m. and will go until supplies run out.

“We are sad to be closing our doors, but will be back to visit our friends in Old Town through upcoming pizza partnerships with our friends at @portcitybrew,” Pizzeria Paradiso said on Facebook. “We are incredibly thankful for our loyal customers and will greatly miss being a permanent part of the Alexandria community.

The post continues: “After ten years in Old Town, we are saddened to announce we will permanently close our King Street location this fall. Join us for a walk by celebration on Sunday, October 4th at 1pm-we’ll be handing out pizza and Paradiso souvenirs while supplies last plus more information about Pizza Night at Port City!”

Pizza Paradiso’s other locations in Maryland and Washington, D.C. are still open.

After ten years in Old Town, we are saddened to announce we will permanently close our King Street location this fall….

Posted by Pizzeria Paradiso on Thursday, September 24, 2020

Photo via Pizzeria Paradiso/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Beyer Says Trump Should Not Reject Strict FDA Guidelines for COVID Vaccines — “Political interference with vaccine development and an open feud with FDA can only further damage the public’s already growing safety concerns. Once again, lives may depend on Trump shutting his mouth and letting scientists do their jobs.” [Twitter]

Pizzeria Paradiso Closing in Old Town — “Like many restaurants in Old Town, Pizzeria Paradiso closed when the coronavirus pandemic reached Alexandria. Unfortunately, the beloved pizza restaurant will not be reopening, the owner announced this week.” [Alexandria Living]

Carlyle Farmers’ Market Today from 3-7 P.M. — “Free to the Public; Produce, Meats, Food, and Beverage sales are welcomed. What to Bring? Face Mask and your Social Distancing Etiquette.” [Facebook]

Lee-Fendall House Hosting Virtual Speakeasy Fundraiser — “Enjoy a night of speakeasy-style fun , without leaving your living room! Join us for this special night to support the Lee-Fendall House Museum’s vital work in historic preservation and education – one where you can keep on dancing, break out the booze, and have a ball.” [Visit Alexandria]

Alexandria Sheriff’s Deputy Reads ‘Lost And Found’ — “Chief Deputy Candra Callicott offers her encouragement to young students and the sweet story “Lost and Found” about a boy and a penguin.” [Facebook]

Alexandria Country Day School Hosting Virtual Open House — “ACDS’s small-size and ability to adapt quickly allowed us to open in September with in-person learning under a hybrid model. Join our Head of School, Division Heads, current parents and middle school students to learn more about our student-centered program.” [Patch]

Free Drive-Thru Flu Shot Clinic on Saturday — “This clinic will be open to adults and adolescents age 12 and over, with a maximum of four people per vehicle.” [City of Alexandria]

Today’s Weather — “Overcast (during the day). High 74F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.Rain showers in the evening will evolve into a more steady rain overnight. Low 63F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 70%.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Alexandria Assistant City Manager for Public Private Partnerships — “As a member of the City Manager’s Senior Leadership Team, the Assistant City Manager for Public Private Partnerships reports to the City Manager and a Deputy City Manager and is responsible for leading the overall public private partnership (P3) initiatives for the City primarily via capital project planning and financing, leveraging of City assets and resources to implement City infrastructure and facilities, economic development related public sector and private sector projects, as well as facilitating the development and implementation of alternative service delivery strategies.” [Indeed]

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