Stomping Ground has won the people’s hearts, and their cheddar blue corn grits with a pork ragu did the trick. The Del Ray restaurant took home top honors by winning the people’s choice in the 12th annual Taste of Del Ray.

“We were blown away by the culinary creativity of our restaurants,” said Taste of Del Ray chair Karen Johnson.  “But, more than anything, we were so overwhelmed by the support of the community, even though we couldn’t hold our traditional in-person event.  This was a difficult year for restaurants, and the neighborhood really came out to celebrate the talented chefs in Del Ray.”

The judges this year were Alexandria Sheriff Dana Lawhorne and Chadwicks owner Trae Lamond, and the full results of the competition are below:

People’s Choice
  1. Stomping Ground
  2. Spice Kraft, for their Raj Kachori Chaat (Indian Street Food)
  3. Junction Bakery & Bistro, for their Chiquito Cubanos

Judges’ Choice

  1. Evening Star Cafe, for their Local Coffee Custard
  2. Pork Barrel BBQ, for their White Chicken Chili
  3. Live Oak Restaurant/Elo’s Italian Pop-Up, for their Meatballs made with veal, pork, & beef, with creamy polenta, Pomodoro sauce, and Pecorino
  4. Honorable Mention: Swings Coffee Roasters, Bourbon Barrel-Aged Nitro Draft Latte
  5. Honorable Mention: Del Ray Pizzeria, Baked Avocado with Fried Egg & Cheddar
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Last night was a rout for a vocal contingent of Alexandrians pushing for a change in city leadership, but both top dogs in the local Democratic party and their opposition say the fight isn’t over.

At Los Tios Grill in Del Ray, former Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg told enthusiastic supporters that conversations over issues like the Seminary Road Diet and Taylor Run Stream restoration project would continue, although the candidates who put those issues at the forefronts of their campaigns lost.

Silberberg said that her supporters should join boards and commissions and join their civic associations, continue speaking out and working on changing the city from within.

“This is a democracy,” Silberberg said. “All voices need to be heard. I remain dedicated to those causes and getting things done, and I encourage people to stay involved.”

On the Bring Integrity Back to Alexandria Facebook group, a page that had been a social gathering place for locals frustrated with city leadership, the reaction was dour, with members calling the results “depressing” or blaming the outcome on outside influences in local politics.

In terms of voting precincts, Silberberg won City Hall and a handful of the more residential areas in the center of the city, like around Seminary Hill, but Wilson won the more densely urban West End, Old Town, and Del Ray.

The election saw 23% of registered voters show up to the polls — a relatively high voter turnout rate for a non-Presidential election year.

Clarence Tong, chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee, said the high number of candidates — 13 candidates in the Democratic primary for six seats — was likely one of the reasons for the high turnout, and that last night’s results were an endorsement for the leadership of Wilson and the incumbent City Council.

“Yesterday we experienced high primary turnout in Alexandria. this was a reflection of the high quality of the democratic statewide and local candidates on the ballot, likely the largest number in our history,” Tong said. “The great thing about the Democratic Party is the broad range of experiences and perspective from our candidates.”

Tong said that many of the issues debated during the campaign will likely continue to be debated after the election.

“I would fully expect the policy issues that were debated during the Council primary to continue in other public forums,” he said.

Photo via Alexandria Democratic Committee/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Commonwealth Avenue road work starts today in Del Ray — “The City of Alexandria is repaving Commonwealth Avenue during the month of June 2021. The overall paving project will start at the intersection of Cameron Street and Commonwealth Avenue, then proceed northbound to West Braddock Road. It is anticipated that the project will be broken into two phases for construction.” [City of Alexandria]

Reminder: Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 8 — “Registered voters are encouraged to become familiar with the ballot and voting procedures in advance.” [City of Alexandria]

New vegan donut business opens inside Dairy Godmother — “Gravatt, owner of The Dairy Godmother, 2310 Mount Vernon Avenue in Alexandria, recently decided he wanted to start a donut making business.  His long-time friend, Allen Smith, loved the idea and wanted to join him.” [Zebra]

Today’s weather — “Mostly cloudy in the morning with scattered thunderstorms developing later in the day. Hot. High 92F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%… Scattered thunderstorms during the evening, then cloudy skies overnight. Low 73F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%.” [Weather.com]

New job: Bartender at The Majestic — “We are looking for a highly experience, enthusiastic bartender to provide an excellent guest drinking experience. Good bartenders will be able to create classic and innovative drinks exceeding customers’ needs and expectations.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

City responds to recent overdose increase — “The number of opioid overdoses rose about 36% in Alexandria during 2020, reflecting statewide and national spikes in both fatal and non-fatal drug overdoses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data collected by the Alexandria Police Department and the Alexandria Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Services, there were 105 total opioid overdoses, both fatal and non-fatal, in 2020. In 2019, there were 73 total opioid overdoses in the city.” [Alex Times]

Bicyclist struck and killed by vehicle in Alexandria area of Fairfax County — “The incident happened around 11:45 a.m. at Telegraph Road and Franconia Road in the Alexandria area. Police say the driver remained at the scene.” [FOX 5 DC]

First Thursday rescheduled to June 10 in Del Ray — “The Del Ray Business Association presents First Thursday: Unmask Your Superhero on Thursday, June 10 from 6 p.m. to dusk along Mount Vernon Avenue. The event features a wide range of activities that promote community while supporting the Dunbar Alexandria-Olympic Boys & Girls Club.” [Zebra]

Today’s weather — “Scattered showers and thunderstorms (during the day). Storms may contain strong gusty winds. High 82F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%… A mostly clear sky (in the evening). Low 64F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Seasonal marina dock assistant ($18.99 hourly) — “The Seasonal Marina Dock Assistant works on the City’s Historic Waterfront at the City Marina. The City Marina provides for recreational and commercial boating operations while receiving more than 2,000,000 visitors annually. The Marina Dock Assistant performs journey-level tasks of more than ordinary difficulty and must be able to perform heavy physical labor safely and efficiently.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Alexandria reducing COVID-19 news release updates to twice a week — “With nearly 54% of Alexandrians ages 12 and up partially vaccinated and considerable progress in the past five months toward the state’s goal of 70% and Alexandria’s target of 80% of the eligible population fully vaccinated, the frequency of this COVID-19 news release will reduce to twice per week. Going forward, this news release will be published on Tuesdays and Fridays, unless there is a major announcement to share. Daily COVID-19 case, death and vaccination data will continue to be available at alexandriava.gov/Coronavirus. The seven-day moving average of cases in Alexandria is now at its lowest point since the start of the pandemic.” [City of Alexandria]

King Street-Old Town Metro station bus loop to open — “On June 6, DASH and Metrobus will move to the new bays in the Metro station’s bus loop off Diagonal Road. Bus bays and the station entrance kiosk will feature new digital screens with real-time bus arrival information. New crosswalks and redesigned station lighting have also been added to boost pedestrian visibility.” [Patch]

Taste of Del Ray starts this Friday — “One of Virginia Living Magazine‘s top food festivals in the state, the Taste of Del Ray, will open this weekend, on Friday June 4. As events have had to adapt throughout the pandemic, the Taste of Del Ray is no exception. The new event format will look like a weekend-long event from Friday, June 4 to Sunday, June 6.” [Zebra]

Carlyle House hosting Juneteenth celebration — “The event is free to attend and will be held from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Attendees will have a chance to speak with the three poets, Jamal Rashad, Simply Sherri and Mysfit, who will be performing a live poetry reading. In addition to the poets, the event’s live music will be performed by cellist Benjamin Gates.” [Zebra]

Today’s weather — “Cloudy early with thunderstorms developing later in the day. Storms could contain damaging winds. High 82F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 60%… Scattered showers and thunderstorms. Storms may contain strong gusty winds. Low 67F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%.” [Weather.com]

New job: Shampoo assistant — “Salon Virage is looking for an energetic shampoo assistant. Prior experience is REQUIRED. At least 2 years experience. Must be able to work Tuesday-Sunday and some holidays. Saturdays and Sundays a must. Hours are flexible.” [Indeed]

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Alexandria honored its military veterans on Monday in Del Ray, in one of the first public events in the city since the easing of COVID-19 restrictions on Friday.

Mayor Justin Wilson and Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker were among the attendees at Monday afternoon’s event, which was held at the Captain Rocky Versace Plaza and Vietnam Veterans Memorial outside the Mount Vernon Recreation Center.

“Throughout our 272 years of history, Alexandria’s sons and daughters have been called to service in our nation’s defense,” said Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson. “They have spilled blood around the planet in wars and conflicts defending our freedoms and ideals. On Memorial Day, we remember those who did not return from conflict and provided the ultimate sacrifice to our nation. We are eternally grateful.”

This was the first time that the event has been held outside and in person since 2018. Last year’s event was canceled by the pandemic, and the 2019 event was held indoors because of rain.

U.S. Army Capt. Humbert Roque “Rocky” Versace is the sole Alexandrian to win the Medal of Honor, and is among 68 residents who died in the Vietnam War.

Photo via Friends of Rocky Versace/Facebook

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Alexandria’s Homegrown Restaurant Group is making an investment in the future.

That’s what “Mango” Mike Anderson says, now that he and co-owner Bill Blackburn have agreed to pay their 150 employees $15 an hour. Anderson says it’s about retaining good staff and thanking them for their hard work during the pandemic.

“Most of our business for the last year has been out of tents,” Anderson said. “Our staff have been out in the cold and rain and bad weather every day. My job behind the scenes was to apply for all these PPP loans and the Employee Retention Credit, and here we are at the end of this and we didn’t end up giving any Christmas bonuses this year. So, we all kind of got together and said, ‘Man, let’s try to make this $15 an hour deal happen.'”

Anderson also said that all COVID restrictions will be lifted Friday at Pork Barrel BBQHoly Cow Del RayThe Sushi BarWhisky & OysterSweet Fire Donna’s and Tequila & Taco.

Governor Ralph Northam was recently at Pacers Running in Old Town, where he met with Mayor Justin Wilson and spoke with employees about raising the minimum wage. Pacers has been paying its employees $15 an hour since last year.

Starting May 1, Virginia’s minimum wage increased to $9.50 per hour. It will go up again to $11 per hour on Jan. 1, 2022, to $12 in 2023 and then $15 per hour in January 2026.

Anderson said that tipped staff — bartenders and waitstaff — will not be paid $15 an hour, and estimates their income to be closer to $20 after tips.

“I think business is going to be strong this summer,” he said. “And we’re kind of betting on the future. Now’s the time to do it, show our appreciation and as a byproduct of this deal we’re also hoping it will attract a stronger caliber of staff to the restaurants.”

Anderson said that the company will be fine, despite an impact from increasing salaries.

“The dishwashers made like $10 or $11,” he said. “Now, with the online tip pool they’re going to make like $19 an hour. So, we’re gonna take a hit, but we’re trying to play the long game here, and the long game is to thank your customers and thank your staff.”

Photo via Holy Cow/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Alexandria Black History Museum director speaks on anniversary of George Floyd’s murder — “Yes, there have been changes – Diversity and inclusion training are being taught in universities and the American workplace, some racists are being held accountable, corporations have promised new more transparent hiring procedures that would add African Americans to leadership positions, TV shows and advertisers have hired people of color in record numbers and The Oscars are not quite so #OscarsSoWhite anymore. All of this is meaningful, but it must be more than a quick fix. Everyone needs an ally, but being a true ally goes deeper than the protests. To be a real ally, you need to be there for the hard work, the messy work, and the unpleasant conversations about race and racism. You need to turn the mirror inward and make the personal changes that will help make your community a better place.” [Zebra]

Local chef appearing on FOX baking competition tonight — “Erinn Roth still can’t believe she was chosen to compete on FOX’s new baking competition show. ‘Crime Scene Kitchen’ premieres this Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET… The contestants are allowed to explore a kitchen that was recently used to bake a specific treat. They must use their baking skills and the clues left behind to determine what was baked and then they have two hours to recreate what they think it was. At the end of each episode, after two rounds, a team is eliminated.” [Alexandria Living]

Roy Rogers to reopen year and a half after Belle View Shopping Center fire — “The Roy Rogers in the Belle View Shopping Center will celebrate its long-awaited grand re-opening on June 1, the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce announced. Located at 1506 Belle View Blvd., the restaurant closed in October 2019 following a devastating multi-alarm fire that spread along the roofline of the shopping center. An investigation by the Fairfax County Fire Marshal’s office determined that fire began in a walk-in cooler at Yido Ramen and Sushi, which had opened just days before. [Alexandria Living]

Old Hat Bar opening delayed in Old Town by staffing challenges — “Residents eager to see Old Hat Bar open its doors in Old Town Alexandria will have to wait a little longer. The gastropub was set to open Friday, May 21 at 112 N. Saint Asaph Street, the former location of King Street Blues. But like other businesses in the food service industry, Old Hat Bar faces staffing challenges.” [Patch]

City to Host Town Hall on Anti-Asian Violence — The City of Alexandria invites the public to attend a virtual Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month Town Hall, “Contextualizing Anti-Asian Violence in the Age of COVID,” on Thursday, May 27, at 7 p.m. The virtual panel discussion focuses on the wave of racial incidents and attacks directed toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The panel features Elisabeth Chan, Sue Jean Cho, John Min, and Alexander Purrugganan,  faculty members of Northern Virginia Community College. Their presentation will be followed by an interactive question and answer session. The presentation is free, but attendees must register.” [City of Alexandria]

PHOTOS: Alexandria Fire Department train on the Potomac River — “Yesterday, some of our first responders participated in swift water boat operator training. #traineveryday #stayready” [Twitter]

Today’s weather — “Partly cloudy in the morning followed by scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon. Gusty winds and small hail are possible. High 93F. Winds SW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%… Scattered thunderstorms in the evening. Partly cloudy skies overnight. Low 68F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%.” [Weather.com]

New job: Crew at AMC Theatres — “AMC amazing. That’s the promise we deliver to nearly 35,000 associates, 240 million guests domestically, and 350 million guests worldwide each year. AMC has propelled industry innovation since 1920, and we continue to innovate by delivering premium sight and sound, new and improved food and beverage options, and diverse content in our state-of-the-art theatres.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Suit alleging admissions discrimination at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology moves forward — “More than 70 percent of the student body at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is Asian American; Black and Hispanic students have been woefully underrepresented there for decades. At a hearing Friday in Alexandria, lawyers for the Fairfax County School Board urged a judge to toss out the lawsuit. They argue that the new admissions policies are race-neutral. But the judge ruled that the parents’ group made a compelling claim that the board’s true motivation was to increase Black and Hispanic representation at the expense of Asian Americans.” [WAVY.com]

Alexandria Symphony Orchestra extends contract for Maestro James Ross — “The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra (ASO) announced that Music Director James Ross received a contract extension through the 2023-24 season. Ross has been at the helm of ASO since 2018. He is the fifth music director in ASO’s 78-year history.” [Zebra]

Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office tackling workplace stress with wellness challenge — “May is National Employee Health and Wellness Month. For the first time, my office has fully embraced that designation by implementing our ‘Mindful May Wellness Challenge.’ In addition to providing our employees with advice on mindfulness, we have constructed a month of activities and events designed to focus on employee wellness.” [AlexTimes]

Alexandria Drive-In announces June movies — “Tickets are $40 per car, and food trucks will be on-site each night providing delish, savory, and sweet concessions with online ordering through Goodfynd! Proceeds from the movie series will benefit local Alexandria charity, ATHENA Rapid Response Innovation Lab.” [Alexandria Living]

New sign unveiled in Del Ray for hero Rocky Versace — “Alexandria’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Del Ray bears Versace’s name and now, through the efforts of the Friends of Rocky Versace and the City of Alexandria, that narrative was unveiled May 15 during an Armed Forces Day ceremony at the local landmark.” [Gazette]

Local businesses struggle adapting to new mask guidance — ‘”My fear is that people will say they’re vaccinated when they’re not vaccinated and then just walk around unmasked,’ said Nicole McGrew, owner of the clothing and accessories boutique Threadleaf in Old Town Alexandria.” [NPR]

This Friday is the deadline to request a ballot by mail — “Last day to request a ballot by mail for the June 8 Democratic Party Primary Election. Applications must be received in the Voter Registration Office by 5pm. Applications may be submitted online (http://elections.virginia.gov) or by mail, fax (703.838.6449) or email ([email protected])” [City of Alexandria]

Today’s weather — “Overcast with rain showers at times. High around 70F. Winds E at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%… Rain showers early with overcast skies late. Low 59F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%.” [Weather.com]

New job: Surveillance investigator — “DigiStream Investigations, a fast-growing private investigations firm, seeks a full-time Surveillance Investigator to work under general supervision, investigating suspicious worker’s compensation claims from various corporate clients in the state of Virginia. This autonomous position is both journalistic and investigative in nature, and centers around obtaining quality video footage and detailed report rendering on the activities captured by the investigator.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

School Board vice chair condemns City Council elimination of School Resource Office program — “Without surveying the larger community, they made a decision that frankly their backgrounds don’t qualify them to understand the ramifications of their actions. It’s still puzzling, even after a 2.5-hour exchange by council, what problem council was trying to solve, as the SRO program has not only been highlighted to be a successful partnership, but also there was no evidence to suggest otherwise.” [Alex Times]

Investigative journalist Nick Horrock dies — “Perhaps the best example of his courage came in 1968 when he was trying to expose problems in the prison system. His head shaved, he went undercover as an inmate at the Maryland State Penitentiary. With only the warden and the governor aware of why he was truly there, there was no special protection from either the inmates or the guards. He survived unscathed, he wrote, he won accolades and prizes but he was awash in fear when he was doing it.” [Gazette]

Animal Welfare League ‘Cover the Cruiser’ event on Saturday in Del Ray — “Join us this Saturday from 10-2 to help us Cover the Cruiser! We’ll be out in front of The Dog Store in Del Ray along with @AlexandriaVAPD and @AlexVASheriff to cover their vehicles with donated pet supplies to help animals in need!” [Twitter]

Chamber ALX hosting City Council candidate meet-and-greet on June 1 — “The Alexandria Chamber of Commerce will gather members and friends for a “speed networking” type of event where Candidates for Alexandria City Council and Mayor will hop from virtual table to table to have micro conversations and targeted discussions with each group of attendees. Attendees will be seated by areas of interest to better focus the small group conversations.” [Chamber ALX]

Today’s weather — “Sunshine and clouds mixed. High 89F. N winds shifting to ESE at 10 to 15 mph… A few clouds. Low 56F. Winds SE at 10 to 15 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Entry level appointment setter — “We are hiring for individuals who have a background in either customer service, finance, or sales. If you are searching for a company that pays well, and takes care of all members, feel free to apply. We are looking to add 4 new members to our team. We fully train, so experience in our industry is not required. If you work hard and show that you are serious, we do have advancement opportunities. We truly care about helping our associates succeed and we have the tools.” [Indeed]

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