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Clay Queen Pottery officially closed its doors last Monday, October 24.

The shop at 2303 Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray is nearly vacant, and small renovations are being made to the building interior.

The business closed due to the retirement of owner Renee Altman, as first reported by Alexandria Living Magazine. Clay Queen Pottery sold pottery and jewelry, and provided pottery classes.

There’s no word of what will go into the space, but Paul Haire, owner of The Dog Store — next door at 2301 Mount Vernon Avenue, would like to use the space for an expansion.

“I would love to use the spce for an expansion,” Haire said. “I’d like to do that. Let’s see what happens with that in the future.”

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Landmark-area sports bar Alley Cat (image via Alley Cat)

The big news this week was some favorite local restaurants and bars going away.

Both Mackie’s Bar and Grill and Elizabeth’s Counter are set to close in the next couple weeks. Owner Rob Krupicka is planning to replace the latter with a new comfort food restaurant called Railbird Kitchen sometime later this year, but the spot’s famed handmade donuts won’t be returning.

Further west, local bar Alley Cat is also closing next month, though the bar is scheduled to reopen in the Friendship Heights neighborhood of D.C.

  1. Last call: Mackie’s Bar and Grill closing in Old Town next Tuesday
  2. SCOOP: Elizabeth’s Counter closing, leaving donut hole in Braddock neighborhood
  3. 70 local restaurants are participating in Alexandria Restaurant Week
  4. Poll: Should the Victory Center be demolished?
  5. Alexandria Mayor says Youngkin’s affordable housing reform comments are positive step forward
  6. Robbery suspects allegedly threatened Alexandria Home Depot employee with pepper spray
  7. Momo Sushi & Cafe in Old Town and a number of other businesses are up for sale
  8. Alexandria releases guide to surviving the upcoming Metro shutdowns
  9. Alexandria puppy with incurable cancer finds loving home for final months
  10. Son allegedly pistol-whips dad over trash dispute in West End apartment
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Landmark-area sports bar Alley Cat (image via Alley Cat)

Landmark neighborhood sports bar Alley Cat is closing early next month, local news site Annandale Today first reported.

The bar first opened in 2009 and, according to the bar’s website, the last day of business will be Sunday, Sept. 4.

“We regret to inform you that Ally Cat has decided to close down its business,” the bar’s website said. “Our last day of business will be on 9/4. Stay tuned since we will reopen at the new location. We are forever grateful for all of the great friends and customers we’ve had over the years.”

Alley Cat’s Facebook page said the band Chapter 11 will be playing a “Farewell to Alley Cat” show on Saturday, Sept. 3.

Annandale Today reported that the bar is planning to reopen at 5247 Wisconsin Avenue in Friendship Heights later this year. The bar’s current location is planned as the site of the mixed-use Landmark Overlook development

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In 2015, former Virginia state Del. Rob Krupicka left state politics to focus on running a donut shop in Alexandria. Seven years later, a combination of economic factors is forcing Krupicka to give up the dream and leave a donut hole in the Braddock neighborhood.

Krupicka announced on Twitter that Elizabeth’s Counter (formerly Sugar Shack), will close on Sunday, August 28. Krupicka is planning on shutting down the store and reopening with a new restaurant called Railbird Kitchen later this year.

Railbird Kitchen will focus on comfort food and cocktails, Krupicka said, while continuing Elizabeth’s Counter’s emphasis on offering good vegan options. Gone, however, are the handmade donuts that made Sugar Shack a local icon.

“We will have a number of vegan options to build on the customer base,” Krupicka said. “We’ll have more vegan options than a normal restaurant has, but more traditional options as well… Vegan options aren’t going away, but vegans have non-vegan friends, so we want something for them, too.”

The comfort food selection will include fried chicken, chicken sandwiches, and the sides that go with it.

Krupicka launched the Northern Virginia branch of Richmond-based Sugar Shack in 2015 to great local acclaim. The little Braddock shop’s hand-made donuts with a wild array of flavors were popular enough that Krupicka was able to expand into Arlington and D.C.

As the franchise further south started to get embroiled in infighting, Krupicka relaunched the Northern Virginia franchise as an independent chain called Elizabeth’s Counter. Elizabeth’s Counter continued producing handmade donuts but added more traditional restaurant fare with an emphasis on vegan options.

Around the same time, Krupicka launched Captain Gregory’s, a speakeasy adjacent to the main restaurant.

But that relaunch hit in March 2020, right as the COVID-19 pandemic started shutting down restaurants — many of which would never reopen. Elizabeth’s Counter remained open in Braddock, but the other locations closed within a year. Two years later, Krupicka said rising costs coupled with an office market that never fully returned has made handmade donuts unfeasible.

“The restaurant industry has changed a lot since the pandemic,” Krupicka said. “We have rising labor and ingredient costs. It got to a point where the labor and ingredient costs didn’t make sense for a handmade donut. We never used machinery in our kitchen, we made everything by hand, but it contributed to a higher-cost product.”

Krupicka said one of the big markets for donuts were local offices, but offices haven’t filled up the way they did pre-pandemic.

“People haven’t been going back to the office, and we’ve lost our going to the office donut business and it hasn’t come back,” Krupicka said. “I love donuts. My kids love donuts. This is entirely a business decision. I don’t have any regrets. I’ve loved the last seven and a half years doing donuts [and] we’re excited about the new business that’s coming.”

Krupicka said throughout September and October, he’ll be testing Railbird Kitchen menu items at Captain Gregory’s. Meanwhile, Elizabeth’s Counter will close for a couple months for cosmetic interior changes. Krupicka says he hopes to reopen in late fall or early winter.

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You’ve got a week to order those last burgers, steaks and chicken wings, because after eight years in business in the heart of Old Town, Mackie’s Bar and Grill is closing its doors for the last time next Tuesday (August 30).

The neighborhood bar and steakhouse was unable to negotiate a new lease, owner Sang Lee told ALXnow.

“It’s the only neighborhood bar in Old Town,” Lee said. “I would hope that some of our regulars, when they find out that we are closing, will be here and support us and make sure that the staff make some money before they actually move on. That’s all I can ask.”

Lee is going to take a break for a few months and then decide on whether he wants to reopen in a new location.

The news is a shock for many of the restaurant’s Old Town regulars, including Stu Robinson.

“I don’t know where I’m going to go hang out now,” Robinson said.

Lee said the building owners are in talks with tenants about putting a salon in the space.

“It’s sad, because we have the best wings and the best burgers in town,” Lee said. “I am grateful to all of my friends and customers who made Mackie’s what it is today.”

Via Facebook

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Ready to go into business in Alexandria?

The latest listings on BizBuySell show all kinds of companies for sale in the city.

The website aggregates numerous business sale listings, and the names and locations are generally left out.

Reasons for selling, when provided, typically do not mention economic hardship, but more often involve the owner retiring or not having time to actively run the business.

Here are some that are currently listed:

  1. Dog Boutique Accessories and Food — “Incredible dog boutique store in charming and wealthy Old Town Alexandria. The business has been growing since inception in 2010.The high visibility location draws in hundreds of customers each week. This business does NOT sell or re-home dogs.”
  2. Nail salon — “Established, nice nail salon/spa with good income available for sale in the Falls Church, Alexandria area. Good rent. Potential for growth if adding more nail techs. Nail services comprise 80% of the business, the rest is hair services. Highly visible from main road. Good reviews. Nice and well decorated. Owner can stay and work on a part time basis. Staff will stay if new owner want. 1,700 square feet. Current lay out has 6 pedicure chairs, 8 manicure tables, 2 hair stations, 2 shampoo stations, 2 rooms for facial/waxing services. Owner prefers cash but can provide short term financing with substantial down payment. Priced to sell. Don’t miss this opportunity.”
  3. Former hair salon in Fairlington — “Formerly a hair salon by the name of Primary Colors, a hair salon that was in business for twenty years. Now the space is open, and is still built out to be a hair salon, but the space can also be altered to become a different business.”
  4. Deli with R.E. property — The owner is retiring after 30 years in business. The restaurant is open five days a week for breakfast and lunch.
  5. Well-established laundromat — “All Washer and Driers in Excellent condition. NO Coin! Card only! Owner stops by the store once a week. 50 washers, 52 Driers.”
  6. Profitable restaurant for sale — “Great location, great visibility, long lease term, plenty of parking spaces, in a busy shopping center with many other businesses that crowded with customers on the daily basic, this restaurant is built up from the cold cell condition with new kitchen equipment, freezer, cooler, HVAC….., that’s clean and presenting a long useful life for new owner to do business in years to come without any major upgrading. This restaurant can be converting to other cuisine given there is no other restaurant of that cuisine is currently operated within the shopping center.”
  7. Profitable High Volume Bakery & Cafe MRB VA 1107 — “By purchasing this Bakery, Café, and Catering Company that is for sale in a very busy shopping center in Fairfax County, Virginia and you will be ready for business your first day! This well-known operation produces $1.8 million from its multiple foodservice revenue streams. It is Fully Equipped and gives you the opportunity to serve up a full restaurant menu, special occasion cakes, sweet treat pastries, and baked goods, including gluten-free items, sugar-free treats, and food for allergy-sensitive patrons.”
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Streets Market & Cafe closing in Arlandria (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Streets Market & Cafe, a grocery store on the ground level of DelRay Tower (3108 Mount Vernon Avenue) between the Del Ray and Arlandria neighborhoods, is closing.

An employee at the location said the store will be completely closed in two weeks or mid/early July.

The market has been in DelRay Towers since at least 2016, not long after the building opened.

According to signs in a window, everything in the store is up to 30% off until the store closes.

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Del Ray boutique Kiskadee will be closing its doors when its lease expires on April 30, shop owner Celeste Crutchfield recently announced.

Crutchfield said she felt zapped on energy and full of dread when facing another two-year renewal on her lease.

“I don’t want to do it anymore, at least not at this point in my life,” Crutchfield wrote in a blog post. “I knew I didn’t want to stay in Kiskadee’s current building for a variety of reasons. I started looking for a new location, but I wasn’t feeling inspired by other spaces I looked at or the prospect of continuing as a small business owner.”

Kiskadee will close on April 3, and all full-priced merchandise is 20% to 30% off. If necessary, the store will reopen on April 18 to sell any remaining merchandise and fixtures.

Darby Rush and Neil Hall opened the women’s clothing and accessory boutique at 2205 Mount Vernon Avenue in 2007, and sold it to Crutchfield in 2017.

“The last two years, running a business in a pandemic has zapped me,” Crutchfield wrote. “What a doozy of a curveball for someone who had just started to know what she was doing. I’m proud that I was able to weather the storm and survive. However, it took everything I had. I have nothing more to give.”

This is not the end for the business, Crutchfield wrote.

“I just need a break and may reopen another brick-and-mortar store sometime in the future,” she wrote. “For now, I’m going to focus on the online segment of the business. The website will stay active, and I will add new products regularly. I also hope to do pop-ups and holiday shows. Please keep an eye out for these, which will be updated on our Instagram and Facebook accounts.”

Via Kiskadee/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Pandemic sounds death knell for Alexandria dry cleaners — “Gary and Chong Whitesides had for the past three decades run a dry-cleaning business in Alexandria… but the pandemic eventually shut them down, too.” [Washington Post]

Robots take over Hybla Valley Denny’s — “A handful of Denny’s restaurants nationwide, including one in the Alexandria area, has hired robots.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

One dead, two badly injured in Duke Street crash — “One person died and two others were badly hurt in a five-vehicle crash that closed a section of Duke Street in Alexandria, Virginia, for more than eight hours in the overnight hours.” [WTOP]

IndoChen opening on King Street — “IndoChen is opening a second location inside the Hyatt Centric Hotel at 1625 King St. near the Old Town metro station.” [Zebra]

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Nando’s in Old Town, photo via Google Maps

After 10 years in Old Town, Nando’s Peri-Peri is letting its lease expire and will close in mid-March.

Nando’s Peri-Peri opened at 702 King Street in 2010. With its leaser expiring, staff told ALXnow that it’s challenging to do business in the old building that is 186 years old.

The move also means that the 700 block of King Street will have another vacant storefront, as Nice Cream at 726 King Street closed in the fall.

Not to worry. The company’s South African chicken will be available when they reopen in August at their new location in Carlyle Crossing development at the Hoffman Town Center. There are also more than a dozen Nando’s throughout the region.

A number of other new businesses are moving in, too.

A Bad Ass Coffee Of Hawaii franchise will also be opening at Carlyle Crossing — one of three of the coffee shops that new owner L2 Ohana Café, LLC, is opening in Northern Virginia. KinderCare Learning Centers is also reportedly moving into the space.

Residents at The Foundry Apartments within the Hoffman Town Center were told about a number of the new businesses in a recent note from management.

“As you may have already observed, construction has begun on The Foundry retail,” Amanda Jones, a community manager for The Foundry wrote to residents. “The construction can be unsightly and will impact noise.”

Via Google Maps

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