After a busy season, Brandon Byrd finally wrapped things up at his Old Town custard shop with a special event on Christmas Eve.
Byrd will reopen Goodie’s Frozen Custard & Treats (200 Commerce Street) sometime in the spring, and like the ingredients of his vanilla custard, he isn’t planning on making any changes — that means no new flavors or price increases.
“My intention is still to not raise prices when I reopen in the spring,” Byrd told ALXnow. “I try to maintain consistency day in and day out, and that means I want customers to have the same experience 10 years from now that they first had.”
Byrd refused to raise prices for his products this year, and has dealt with supply chain issues and up to 200% cost increases for ingredients. It’s part of his long-game strategy of giving folks consistency — from a product and price standpoint — and he admits to taking a hit business-wise.
“Not increasing prices hurt business to a degree,” Byrd said. “But I have to stay consistent. That’s key.”
The special event on Christmas Eve was a toy giveaway for needy kids, just one in a handful of community get-togethers Byrd has hosted over the last several months. Byrd says the events have grown a loyal base of customers.
Byrd and a lone employee run Goodies from the 1930s-era ice house at 200 Commerce Street. The business began more than 10 years ago in Byrd’s custard truck, Gigi. The shop sells one flavor of Wisconsin-style custard — vanilla — and customers choose from a myriad of toppings, all for $8 to $10.
The shop was named one of the top 40 ice cream shops in the country this year by Thrillist.
Byrd said he will spend his downtime with family, and that he may take a vacation before reopening sometime in the spring.
“I have a definite feeling of accomplishment,” Byrd said. “Like tools in a toolbox, our tools are that we’re stable. We’re very consistent and now we get a much-needed break.”
Music, local food and beer is on tap this weekend for the Portside in Old Town Summer Festival at Waterfront Park.
This year, the event is merging with the 44th Annual Alexandria Jazz Fest, and the free events will be held on Friday (June 17) from 6 to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 1 to 9 p.m.
The Portside Festival is organized by Visit Alexandria and the City’s Office of the Arts.
“New this year, the event merges with the on Friday evening to showcase jazz performances and readings by Alexandria poets,” Visit Alexandria said on its website. “Saturday the festival continues with an eclectic musical lineup, local food, hands-on art and history activities and more.”
Additionally, Port City Brewing Company will provide these beers:
- Optimal Wit (Belgian-style white ale, 4.9%)
- Beach Drive (Golden ale, 4%)
- Downright Pilsner (Bohemian style pilsner)
- 4.8%; Monumental (IPA, India pale ale, 6.7%)
- 6 to 6:15 p.m. — Opening remarks
- 6:15 to 7 p.m. — Cubano Groove
- 7:15 to 8 p.m. — VERONNEAU
- 8:15 to 9 p.m. — Eric Byrd Trio
There will be poetry read between sets by:
- Zeina Azzam, Alexandria’s Poet Laureate
- KaNikki Jakarta, Alexandria’s former Poet Laureate
- An up-and-coming Alexandria youth poet
- 1 to 1:15 p.m. — Opening remarks
- 1:15 to 2 p.m. — Eli Lev (folk rock)
- 2:30 to 3:15 p.m. — La Unica (Irish Latin rock)
- 3:45 to 4:30 p.m. — ilyAIMY (folk rock)
- 5 to 5:45 p.m. — Rob Curto’s Forró for All (Brazilian forró)
- 6:15 to 7:15 p.m. — Ras Band (Ethiopian reggae, jazz and funk)
- 7:45 to 9:00 p.m. — Pablo Antonio y La Firma (salsa, merengue and bachata)
It’s the first year that the annual event will be hosted in Alexandria, and it will feature more than a dozen food, dessert and smoothie vendors making dishes from around the world.
“This pandemic changed our lives and the way we look at tomorrow in a drastic way,” wrote event organizers on Facebook. “We should never take anything for granted, so while we have this opportunity to host the event in a safe way for everyone- a large, spacious park, we hope to see you on July 31st at Oronoco Bay Park.”
Food trucks and vendors include:
- Huascaran Restaurant — Peru
- JEMS Catering Caribbean Cuisine — Jamaica
- Kono Pizza — Italy
- Ozfeka Catering — Turkey
- Kruba DC – Japan
- Bli Man Kitchen — Indonesia
- Buddin’ Bakery
- Ben and Jerry’s
The festival will also be held at Freedom Plaza in D.C. on August 28. Admission is free.
Gregg Linzey wants to set the standard for bagels in Northern Virginia, and last Thursday he and his small team opened The Chewish Deli at 807 Pendleton Street in Old Town.
What’s the secret to making a good bagel?
“It’s simple, but not necessarily easy,” Linzey told ALXnow. “There’s no place to get a good bagel, so this all started when I tried to make my own bagels at home.”
Linzey continued, “You have to get every part of the equation right for all of your ingredients, like making sure the dough has the proper hydration. You need the perfect percentage of water, salt, flour, and we use malt syrup as our sweetener. That’s the key to getting a good New York style bagel. No sugar, no brown sugar, no honey. Just malt syrup.”
In case you missed it, The Chewish Deli opened in March as a food truck selling bagels, hot pastrami and Reuben sandwiches around Alexandria. The new brick and mortar is open on Thursday, Friday and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. until noon.
Hey everyone! Just a reminder of our schedule for this week!
Linzey, who left behind a successful career as a certified financial planner, is baking the bagels every morning at 4 a.m. He says that business really took off for the food truck until a car accident sent the truck to the shop for 10 weeks. During that time, Linzey searched for a pop-up to work from and came across the former Pendleton Carryout.
“I met with the owner of the building and five days later negotiated my lease,” Linzey said.
Linzey lives in the Mount Vernon area, and previously spent five years living in Old Town. He’s a native of Haverhill, Massachusetts, and fondly remembers trips to Brooklyn to visit his grandmother and eat bagels.
“One of the best parts about going there was walking around the corner to a little bakery to get fresh, hot bagels,” he said. “They really take you back. This one customer was a woman in her sixties and she told me that it reminded her of getting bagels in New York with her father when she was young.”
Linzey said he wants to sell his bagels in cafes and coffee shops all over town.
“Right now we sell to Misha’s Coffeehouse and Roaster, and I’d like to have our bagels in cafes and coffee shops all around Alexandria,” he said. “That’s one of my goals, that I want to be the authority and set the standard for bagels here in Northern Virginia.”
An Arlington nonprofit has partnered with a D.C. food truck to provide free pizza to affordable housing communities in Alexandria this month.
This is the fifth local campaign for Hearts of Empowerment, which has partnered with Timber Pizza Company to provide free wood-fired pizzas from its food truck on August 22 at Charles Houston Recreation Center (901 Wythe Street) in Old Town at 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 22, and at the same time at the Parkview of Alexandria apartments in Arlandria on Saturday, August 29.
The events will continue on those days until supplies last.
Last Saturday, the group also served pizza to nearly 100 families at the Strawberry Square Apartments in the West End.
“All patrons will be required to wear a mask and remain six feet apart while ordering and receiving food,” notes a Hearts of Empowerment press release. “If neighborhood residents arrive without appropriate protective equipment, Hearts of Empowerment will provide them with one.”
Photo via Timber Pizza Company/Facebook
There’s almost nothing as tempting as the sound of The Temptations coming from Goodies Frozen Custard & Treats on a hot day in Old Town. On a recent Saturday, though, owner Brandon Byrd kept the music running in his frozen custard truck after selling out for the day.
Incidentally, customers can expect to find Goodies outside the 1930s-era ice house at 200 Commerce Street every Saturday until he formally opens the brick and mortar for business in August. Their schedule is posted on the store’s Instagram page.
“Are you still open?” asked Jackie Worrell, who lives around the corner with her family.
“Sorry, we’re all sold out for the day,” Byrd replied.
Worrell stuck around for a few minutes and told ALXnow that she looks forward to the business opening.
“I think it’s gonna be a great asset to the community and it’s in such a neat building that’s been vacant for so long,” she said.
With his bow tie undone and his cap off, Byrd looked at the future and reflected on his past. The 41-year-old resident of Fort Washington, Maryland, started the business in 2012, and has since sold untold thousands of gallons of frozen custard from his restored 1952 International Harvester Metro Van.
“I’m waiting for a couple more permits, and my goal is to open (at the ice house) within the next two months,” Byrd told ALXnow.
Byrd left behind a lucrative career in marketing. He was born in Alabama, grew up in northern California and initially wanted to be a sports therapist. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin Eau-Clair with a degree in kinesiology, he later got two master’s degrees (in business and kinesiology) and entered into the world of marketing. His credits include stints as the marketing and events director for XXL Magazine in New York City, multicultural marketing manager for Red Bull and Bacardi in Chicago and as an assistant brand manager at Miller Coors.
“When I was in corporate America, the fulfillment didn’t come in the same form as it does now,” Byrd said. “For me, my success was never based on salary. It was never based on a title, but it was based on interaction that I had and the lives I influenced.”
Byrd said the business has taught him patience. There is only one flavor, vanilla, and customers can choose from a myriad of toppings.
“You might have a long line and an indecisive kid who doesn’t know what he wants,” he said. “You can’t be like, ‘Hey, kid, come on, now. You got a line. Hurry up.’ What you do is take a step out of the truck and get to their level and ask, ‘What do you like? Sprinkles? Caramel? What else? You know, I think I have something for you.'”
Byrd said that the ice house will be important for establishing relationships.
“If you want your business to be something that works, one thing I learned a long time ago is that you have to make relationships that last, and have good dialogues with people,” he said. “Folks just want a reassuring, pleasant experience in crazy times. You have to show sympathy and empathy, and after time they become part of your life and you become genuinely interested in what they have to say and what’s going on with them.”
Staff photos by James Cullum
Uncertainty Lingers for Furloughed Alexandrians — “When Joy Phansond was furloughed from her job as sales coordinator at the Holiday Inn in Old Town, the temporary layoff was initially supposed to last until April 5. Then it was extended to May 5. Then it was extended again until June 5.” [Gazette]
Cinema Del Ray Canceled Due to Coronavirus — “Due to COVID-19, we must ensure the safety of our fellow community members by canceling Cinema Del Ray 2020. We greatly appreciate the support Cinema Del Ray has been shown in the past. We will be back next year, better than ever!” [Facebook]
Old Town Spanish Restaurant ‘La Tasca’ Files for Bankruptcy — “In the past two years, La Tasca has closed two locations in Chinatown and Clarendon.” [Washington Business Journal]
Food Trucks Lift Spirits in Cameron Station — “Rothschild started reaching out to various food truck vendors on March 25, and shortly thereafter she landed her first truck to visit the neighborhood, at the corner of Cameron Station Boulevard and Harold Secord Street – barbecue purveyor Smoking Kow. And neighbors were ready for a feast.” [Gazette]
Tenants and Workers United Raises $16K for Arlandria Community — “Many of our members have had their work hours reduced or been laid off completely. For the undocumented community, there is no social safety net: no unemployment benefits and no stimulus check from the federal government.” [actblue.com]
Contest: Alexandria Living Magazine Gives Away $600 in Merchandise — “Along with KH Giving, we can finally announce the winner of this week’s Mission Masks giveaway! Dixie won $600 worth of prizes including $250 in gift cards from Sweet Fire Donna’s, $100 from Chadwicks and $100 from Bastille and more! These gift cards are all purchased from local restaurants as a way to support them.” [Facebook]
Photos: Meal Distribution at William Ramsey Elementary — “Enjoy these photos of ACPS meal distribution at William Ramsey Elementary School. Thank you to volunteer and photographer, Chris Castillo.” [Facebook]
How Funeral Homes and Cemeteries are Coping in Alexandria — “Some immediate families of the deceased elect to have ceremonies recorded or live streamed for extended family and friends who cannot be present. Others are opting to hold a memorial service at a later date, when larger groups may be able to congregate, rather than a funeral with restricted attendees now.” [Alex Times]
‘La Brocante’ and ‘Top It Off’ Open This Weekend in Del Ray — “La Brocante and Top It Off are now both open on the weekends only (including TODAY until 5 p.m.), with social distancing measures in place (extra sanitizing, limits on the number of people in the stores, and face masks).” [Facebook]
‘Pacers Running’ Donates Shoes to ‘Together We Bake’ — “Thank you @runpacers and @on_running for giving running shoes to our TWB family! We’re excited to break in our shoes.” [Facebook]
New Job: Member Marketing Manager — “We are looking for someone passionate and analytical who loves product marketing. The purpose of this role is to help drive many stakeholders across many departments to inspire members to act on our top opportunities. If you love coordinating complex marketing campaigns, then this job is for you.” [Indeed]
New Inova Facility Planned — “Inova Health System plans to open a new health care facility on part of Oakville Triangle, giving another try to the 13-acre site on Richmond Highway in Alexandria across from a planned Virginia Tech campus and a short distance from Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters.” [Washington Business Journal]
Christmas Attic Closes — “One of Alexandria’s most beloved businesses, The Christmas Attic at 125 S. Union St., has closed its doors after nearly 50 years in business near the Alexandria waterfront. The year-round winter wonderland offered a special shopping experience.” [Alexandria Living]
Food Truck Serves Fido — “A food truck for dogs? Yup, and not a truck that rolls up and hands out kibble. Woofbowl serves up treats like burgers, fries, and pho… [The truck] frequently pulls up to Del Ray’s Saturday Farmers Market.” [Zebra]
Port City IPA Release Party Tonight — “Introducing a brand new beer to our Limited Release lineup, Star Sailor White IPA! Made with 100% VA Grown Wheat, this hop forward hazy golden beer has fruity notes that will leave you refreshed and ready for star gazing.” [Port City Brewing]
St. Pat’s Parade This Weekend — “Alexandria will turn green at the 39th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Fun Dog Show on Saturday, March 7. The festivities are sponsored by the Ballyshaners, a nonprofit dedicated to Irish heritage, and are expected to include more than 2,000 participants.” [ALXnow]
Reminder: Daylight Saving Time Returns — “Love it or hate it, our annual ritual of early March – daylight saving time – is coming this weekend. At 2 a.m. Sunday, the few analog clocks still around must ‘spring forward’ an hour, turning 1:59:59 a.m. into 3 a.m.” [USA Today]