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There’s a new grocery store in the area. Juana Supermarket officially opened its doors on Saturday (April 23).

The new store replaced the La Latina Market at 5838 N. King’s Highway in the Huntington Station Shopping Center. The shop is managed by Pino Gibson, Jr., and it’s his only location.

The store is fully stocked, and is the only grocery store in the shopping center, which is located in the Jefferson Manor neighborhood of Alexandria in the Lee District of Fairfax County. They sell fresh meat, vegetables, spices, cheeses, snacks, canned food, and general grocery store items.

“We have spices from Africa, South and Latin America, the Caribbean and more,” the manager told ALXnow. “The prices are low and we haven’t had supply issues getting food.”

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Chickens at the D.C. Poultry Market at 3225 Colvin Street. (staff photo by James Cullum)

Updated 4/28 — The City of Alexandria confirmed that, contrary to earlier comments from code enforcement, there was at least one complaint about the slaughterhouse. According to Alexandria communications officer Andrea Blackford:

Thank you for following up with us. There was a complaint about the Market in December 2021, which was followed up by a Zoning Inspector, who reported:

On Dec 6, 2021, a business owner placed a complaint on Alex 311 (21-00030162). The complainant provided photos of animal waste left on the street, and alleged that deliveries occur outside of designated hours and doors are left open.  The business was observed to be compliant with SUP conditions during my visit. I spoke with the manager and owner of the business regarding the complaints and issued a warning notice based off the photographic evidence of the animal waste on street.

(Earlier) For all of the fuss about the halal slaughterhouse at 3225 Colvin Street, the last ten months since its opening have reportedly been pretty quiet.

The poultry slaughterhouse garnered an intense backlash, including a lawsuit that was eventually dismissed. The slaughterhouse was approved in a 5-2 vote at the City Council in March 2019, but after a series of delays the slaughterhouse eventually opened last June.

According to Alexandria communications officer Andrea Blackford, the city’s code enforcement department hasn’t reported any complaints filed or violations investigated since that time.

Rebecca Gomez, director of operations at Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling just up the street (3471 Washington Blvd), said that it’s been all quiet on the poultry front since the slaughterhouse’s opening.

“We’ve had no problems at all,” Gomez said. “We were one business that was not against it as long as they followed the rules. It’s a local business. It was more the neighborhood that’s been up in arms. But we’ve been fine and barely noticed they’re there.”

Gomez said there’s been no noticeable loss in customers since the slaughterhouse opened. Some of the more vocal neighbors in opposition, like multiple nearby dog training services, couldn’t be reached for comment. On the Bring Integrity Back to Alexandria Facebook page, one user said in December 2021 they reported waste from the facility “including feathers, chicken entrails and other waste” spread across Colvin Street. The complaint was not reported by the City of Alexandria.

Abdul Mused, the owner of Saba Live Poultry, said that he hasn’t experienced any issues with neighbors since they opened.

“We invited all the neighbors to come to the store, and most of them that came liked what we did,” Mused said. “We had open arms and showed them [our facility], gave them tours and invited them in to see our operations.”

Since opening Mused said things have been going well as the slaughterhouse, and the facility has been busier than expected.

“They were scared of the unknown,” Mused said. “Now they know and see what we do and we haven’t had any complaints.”

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Adrian Nicotra says you can pickle anything, but the problem is it’s harder to find new clientele since repeat customers buy out his pickled products because they have long shelf lives.

Last October, the 32-year-old bartender at Tiki Bar Del Ray launched his business Pickles And Cures, and is now working to get his products in area restaurants and farmers markets.

“You can pickle anything, literally anything,” Nicotra told ALXnow. “Pickling infuses flavor, and my products are perfect for foodies. They can go to town with it. You can take a cucumber along with the brine, and mix anything with it and it’ll just grab those flavors and infuse them.”

Nicotra has spent the last 15 years working at restaurants around the area. His products — cured meats and pickled vegetables and fruits — are put in clear, plastic containers.

“You can still see the beautiful brine and fresh dill and the garlic in the container,” Nicotra said. “If someone buys a couple $9 containers of product, they can sit on them and let let them just chill on the brine for months. My first customer in October still has her products in the fridge.”

Nicotra now plans on getting his products into the Old Town North and Del Ray farmers markets this summer.

Photos via Instagram

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Thinking about going into business in the Alexandria area?

It can sometimes be easier to buy an existing business, and the latest listings on BizBuySell show all kinds of companies in and around 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. Low rent bakery for sale — “Specialty bakery for sale in the heart of Alexandria. This bakery is located on a very busy road surrounded by residential and retail businesses. The current owner is looking to retire and we are looking for a new owner/operator ready to expand this current business by adding a new menu with more options than the current menu. Seating inside and outside. Bring your concept to this turn key location.”
  2. Dog boutique in Old Town — “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.”
  3. Truck parts distributor — “Turn Key Truck Parts Distributor! This business has been profitable for 60+ years. Loaded with Goodwill!”
  4. Alexandria-Falls Church 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.”
  5. Plumbing company in Alexandria part of Fairfax County — “Recent Price Adjustment a must see business. PROFITABLE, GROWING, Fully Staffed with great growth potential.”
  6. 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.”
  7. Hair salon for sale — “Great opportunity to own a small business for hairstylists who dream of owning their very own salon or a low capital investment for seasonal beauty salon owners who want to expand their business networks. The important fact to know is not about the price to buy this salon, it’s the financial ability and assets to prove to the Landlord in order to get the Landlord approval on the Leasehold of this great and unique business location.”
  8. 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.”
  9. Highly profitable well-established restaurant for sale — “Located in the big shopping mall with a lot of traffic. Business serving dine in and high volume of carry out and perfect for any type of cuisine. Ample parking all around and lease is inexpensive. Owner is seeking a retirement.”
  10. Busy high-end Mediterranean restaurant — Sales at this location are listed at  more than $75,000 monthly, and the seller claims that the owner income is $250,000. The restaurant seats 104, has 12 trained employees and is surrounded by commercial and residential properties.
  11. Dog waste removal company — “Currently have 500 active customers and growing quickly! Fully staffed and great reviews. Owner is looking to relocate and invest in a new venture.”
  12. Full-service restaurant with outdoor seating — “Prime location full service restaurant in the heart of Alexandria. Located on a heavy traffic road surrounded by residential, retail and offices. This restaurant has 3 floors which is great to host private events, lounge area as well as the sit down restaurant portion. The menu/concept can be kept the same or converted to your own. Large kitchen area with top of the line equipment. This is a must see location for any restauranteur looking to expand or take over an established turn key location. The current owner is ABSENTEE but ready to retire and we are looking for a new hands on owner/operator to bring this location to its full potential.”
  13. Profitable fast casual restaurant — “Profitable Thai restaurant in a very busy shopping center on a high traffic road in Alexandria VA. This restaurant has been in business for almost 10 years and has a great following with excellent google reviews by serving the most authentic Thai food with the highest quality ingredients in the area. All furniture, fixtures and equipment are in excellent condition and are included in the sale of this restaurant. Can be converted to fit most concepts & menus.”
  14. Mexican restaurant in Alexandria part of Fairfax County — “Fast casual dine in & carry out Mexican restaurant in a high traffic shopping center. This restaurant needs an updated menu with a hands on owner to manage daily business and take this location to the next level. The current Mexican menu can be changed to fit most concepts. Great layout for almost any type of fast food restaurant. All furniture, fixtures and equipment are in great working order.”
  15. Optometry practice — “Turnkey Optometry and Optical Business. Lease is assignable. Business is established and profitable. Optometry is considered “essential” business. Sellers will stay for transfer training. Beautiful store fully stocked with inventory, equipment, lab, exam room. 5 star location. Database, business name, website, inventory, and seller training all included. Priced below market.”
  16. Pizza restaurant — “Pizza restaurant established in 2014 for sale in Alexandria. This restaurant is located on a heavy foot traffic road surrounded by residential, retail and businesses. Great location with very low rent. Perfect starter restaurant for anyone looking to get into the restaurant business as well as a great location for restauranteurs looking to expand. This restaurant serves hand crafted pizzas, sandwiches and pasta’s as well as beer and wine. All furniture and fixtures are in excellent condition. High end kitchen equipment.”
  17. Japanese restaurant — “The restaurant is located in a busy area, and has been in the operation more than 8 years. More than 5000sf, high-class construction and decoration. The menu includes sushi, hibachi, and ramen. First generation owner since the business was founded, tons of the local customers and Japanese food fans from other places, the business can make $180k sales per month, lease can be extended definitely.”
  18. Barbecue chain with food trucks — “An American-style (Kansas City ) BBQ Restaurant with food trucks. They also have a nice catering component to the business. Decorated in a rustic decor, these units are located in great locations in easily accessible areas close to Washington DC.”
  19. Remodeling business — “After serving the community for 7 years, the current owner is ready to retire from this successful construction business. Ranked as a Top 100 Remodeling Company in the United States by Remodeling Magazine, the company provides exterior remodeling, windows, roofing, siding, gutters, doors, and attic solution services to their residential clients, tailored to fit their needs.”
  20. Auto sales and repair shop two blocks from Metro — “Auto use is grandfathered making this literally a once in a lifetime deal!”
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Connecticut-based pizza chain Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana is expanding to Alexandria.

The 97-year-old company plans on opening in early July at 3231 Duke Street in the Alexandria Commons Shopping Center, according to an email to ALXnow.

Frank Pepe’s, which is widely lauded as a classic old school pizza parlour, is also opening its first location in the region on March 28 in Bethesda, Maryland. The chain offers delivery, and is well known for pizza with a chewy, slightly charred crust.

“It may have taken nearly a century for America’s best pizza to arrive in the DMV, but we are thrilled to finally be here,” said Jennifer Kelly, granddaughter of founder Frank Pepe. “These are our family’s original recipes… We even replicated our signature coal-fired, hand-built brick oven using iron castings from the original restaurant.”

Photos via Google Maps and Facebook

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Nearly two years after filing for bankruptcy, Seattle-based kitchenware retailer Sur La Table will reopen in Old Town on Thursday, March 10.

Sur La Table opened at 326 King Street in 2013, and closed half of its 121 stores around the country after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2020. It was acquired by Marquee Brands and CSC Generation for $89 million.

The company, which was founded in Seattle in 1972, is also the largest provider of non-degree cooking classes in the U.S.

The following cooking classes have been announced for the Old Town store:

Sur La Table is also looking to hire a general manager and assistant store manager in Old Town.

The store will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

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A leading Alexandria nonprofit that has given away millions pounds of food since the pandemic began is preparing to open two food distribution center for residents.

Just where the new ALIVE! centers will be located in the city is still under wraps, but the nonprofit hopes to make an announcement soon and open before the end of this spring. The plan is to make a one-stop shop for residents to get connected to city services.

“There will be one on the West End and one in the north side of Alexandria,” ALIVE! Executive Director Jennifer Ayers told ALXnow. “It’s something that the organization’s wanted to do for a while, The idea is to network community and create a one-stop-shop for clients to get connected to other resources in one place at a time that’s convenient to them.”

Ayers said that her organization is now giving out upward of 150,000 pounds of food every month. Before COVID-19, ALIVE! was giving out about 30,000 pounds of food every month, and during the peak months of 2020 and 2021 increased to 200,000 pounds per month. That equates to providing food nowadays for about 3,000 families monthly, and the nonprofit has gone so far as to provide 5,000 families with food through multiple programs and monthly distributions throughout the city.

The next ALIVE! food distribution will be conducted at three sites on Saturday, Feb. 5. The event will be from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Cora Kelly Elementary School (3600 Commonwealth Avenue), Northern Virginia Community College (500 Dawes Avenue), and William Ramsay Recreation Center (5650 Sanger Avenue).

Photo via ALIVE!/Facebook

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On New Year’s morning, Luke Shlagel of Shlagel Farms was among a handful of vendors at the weekly Del Ray Farmer’s Market. Some customers asked why he wasn’t hanging out with his family and taking the day off, and he had a simple answer.

“If I hadn’t come on New Year’s Day, that would have been 20 days since the last market,” Shlagel said. “Christmas was on a Saturday, New Year’s Day was on a Saturday, and if I waited for the following Saturday, the eighth, that’s too long for the community to be without us.”

The Waldorf, Maryland, farm raises approximately 150 acres of fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy products and flowers through a variety of avenues. Their bread and butter has been a 29-year-long contract supplying vegetables to Giant Food with vegetables, followed by directly selling their products to consumers at half a dozen farmers markets in Maryland and Virginia.

Del Ray is their biggest market, and customers can pick up pre-ordered boxes or shop in-person every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. Getting to this point, though, took a lot of work. Farmers markets were not deemed essential in Virginia at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. Within weeks, though, Shlagel Farms was back in Del Ray with a new e-commerce site, and selling pre-ordered and boxed products for pickup.

“Maryland deemed farmers’ markets as essential, but not Virginia, and that hit us like a ton of bricks,” said Russell Shlagel, the company patriarch. “But now, thanks to our online sales, we have surpassed 2019 numbers. We were able to pivot, and we get emotional about it, how people said they needed us to supply them with fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat.”

More than half (54%) of Virginia farmers market vendors started or expanded an online platform after the onset of the pandemic, according to the Virginia Farmers Market Association.

“The COVID-19 pandemic had far reaching effects on farmers market managers, vendors and customers during the 2020 market season,” the association reported. “Amidst supply chain shortages and panic buying, farmers markets were deemed non-essential infrastructure by the state during the pandemic.”

Sales are good, but there’s a catch, Russell Shlagel said.

“Within the last year, fuel costs have gone up drastically,” he said. “Crop protected costs, fertilizer, and labor have gone up drastically.”

Luke Shlagel said he compiled a customer email list before March 2020 in Del Ray, and that the company was ready. After all, his mother, sisters and wife are all ER nurses, and they warned the family of what was coming. For many Saturdays after Covid hit, the vendor was alone at the Del Ray market.

“We has a notebook and we asked customers to jot down their emails for us,” Luke said. “Then it was unbelievable. All of a sudden we have more than 300 orders coming in, and all of a sudden I’m in the position of shopping for your family, making sure that the product that I’m putting in these boxes is the very best. Really, it was the support of the people of our people in Alexandria that made the whole thing successful and made it come together and work well.”

Via Shlagel Farms/Facebook

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There will soon be a second Chewish Deli bagel shop in Old Town, as the company officially announced it is working to open at the former Dunkin’ Donuts space at 1640 King Street.

Chewish Deli opened its first brick and mortar at 807 Pendleton Street in the Braddock area in October 2020. It began seven months before that as a food truck selling bagels, hot pastrami and Reuben sandwiches.

The new location is blocks from the King St-Old Town Metro station.

“In this new location you’ll be able to sit down and enjoy your bagel, sandwich and coffee. With much more space in the front area than at Pendleton, we will be expanding out our traditional deli offerings,” the company announced on Facebook. “We will be offering more cold options and a few less hot items than Pendleton since there isn’t the option for a grill there.”

The company said that it is working on getting new equipment, renovations and hiring staff.

Owner Gregg Linzey, in a previous interview, told ALXnow the secret to making the perfect bagel.

“It’s simple, but not necessarily easy,” Linzey said. “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.”

Via Facebook

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For the first time in more than 50 years, a member of the Severson family is not making Philly cheesesteak sub sandwiches at Al’s Steak House in Del Ray.

Nelson Rodriguez says it’s regrettable that Bo Severson, the son of former owner John Severson, and cook Mark Williams didn’t work out. It was only a month ago that Rodriguez took over at the Del Ray institution, and at the time he said he was going to keep the old hands to ensure that the cheese steak tradition continues.

“I was sad to let those guys go,” Rodriguez told ALXnow. “But you gotta do what you gotta do.”

Dorothy and James Breeding bought the restaurant from the Severson family in 2016 after John Severson died in 2015. A day after buying it, Al’s burned down, and then eventually reopened in 2017 after the community helped raise $20,000 toward the effort. Dorothy Breeding put the restaurant back on the market after her husband died last year.

Rodriguez says Severson, who lives in Dale City, was a no-show on more than one occasion, and that Williams had a hard time taking direction from his wife, Mabel Rodriguez, who Williams says insisted that the subs not be made with so much meat.

Severson and Williams say that the owners have been cutting corners with the Philly cheesesteak subs, using less meat, and also less expensive meat.

“For me, I like less meat,” Mabel Rodriguez told ALXnow. “It’s expensive. Right now everything is very expensive.”

Severson, 54, started working at Al’s when he was 19 years old. He quit a couple weeks ago after his hours were cut to part-time, he said, and has been living off funds from the restaurant’s sale to the Breeding family.

“For many, many years it was my home away from home,” Severson said of the restaurant. “Now I have kind of an empty feeling. It’s like an ongoing funeral. It’s like Al’s was such a part of our lives for so long and now it’s taken away from me. It’s all I know, all I’ve done my whole life, basically.”

On a busy Friday or Saturday, Al’s will sell hundreds of the sandwiches. A blowup of a Washington Post article praising the excellence of Severson’s Philly cheesesteak subs still graces a wall of the restaurant.

“This is the best steak-and-cheese in Alexandria, period,” said Cameron Scates, who has been coming to Al’s for more than 20 years.

(Updated 8:45 p.m.) Severson said Mabel Rodriguez criticized the way he and Williams made the subs, that there was too much meat on them.

“I would just make a steak-and-cheese, and I’d say that’s the right amount of meat on it,” Severson said. “She’d be like, ‘No, that’s too much,’ and I’d say, ‘No, it’s not too much,’ because people are spending almost $20 for a large steak-and-cheese. You can’t just change the chemistry on a good steak-and-cheese and not think people are going to notice.”

He continued, “I never messed up on steak-and-cheese. I can make one blindfolded.”

Williams, who worked at Al’s for five years, said he quit recently after being screamed at by management for not making a sandwich correctly.

“I always put love into everything that I do,” Williams said. “I’m a Christian. So, I don’t want to put negative energy into my work.”

Nelson Rodriguez, who also owns the Pan Am Family Restaurant in Vienna, says that nothing will change at Al’s, especially the portions. He also says that he recently made a deal with Sysco for pre-cut ribeye meat, which is less expensive.

“The steak-and-cheese sandwich is the same as it has always been,” he said. “We want to open another cheesesteak restaurant in Arlington sometime next year. It’s a very good business, cheesesteak subs, and I have a broker looking for locations.”

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