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(On left) Anna Fitzgerald with new owners of The Dog Park (705 King Street) Noelie Rickey and Markos Panas.(via Instagram)

Bread & Water Co. just got into the pet store business.

The restaurant company recently finalized its purchase of The Dog Park at 705 King Street. The dog and cat boutique has been owned and operated the last 12 years by Anna Franklin, who thanked her customers on Instagram

“As some of you may already know, I have officially sold The Dog Park,” Franklin wrote. “These past 12+ years have been more than I could have hoped.”

New owners Markos Panas, Noelle Rickey and Doug Abedje opened their first business, Bread and Water, in the Belle View Shopping Center. They also own Beeliner Diner in the Bradlee Shopping Center and the Bun Papa sandwich restaurants.

Rickey was a former veterinary technician for 10 years and has a lengthy background in retail.

“We have a lot of work to do, but my hope and goal is to make something that is successful, does good for the community and can grow,” Panas said. “This is all one day at a time, but I’m excited about the opportunities to be an active member of the community.”

Panas said that the deal has been months in the works, and that his partners also recently became members of the Chamber ALX and the Old Town Business Association.

“We’re going to offer food subscriptions with online ordering,” Panas said. “There’s also a dog grooming station built out in the back that has ever been used. So, we’re going to do something with that. We’re also going to do a lot of public events.”

Photo via The Dog Park/Instagram

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Belgium waffle at Lily’s Chocolate & Coffee (image via Lily’s Chocolate & Coffee/Facebook)

(Updated 1:40 p.m.) A coffee shop founded by Iraqi immigrants has filed a permit to open in Old Town.

Lily’s Chocolate and Coffee is coming to 631 King Street at the intersection with S. Washington Street. The site was previously Francesca’s until it closed in 2020.

The shop first opened on Vienna’s Maple Avenue in 2021 and specializes in a pastry called lokma.

“We differentiate ourselves by using the best kinds of chocolate from around the globe,” the owners said in the application. “At Lily’s Chocolate & Coffee, not only do we serve light and delicious desserts, but we also serve a wide range of hot and cold beverages to serve our customers with a unique, unforgettable experience.”

The shop will be open from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday, and open from 7 a.m.-11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Photo via Lily’s Chocolate & Coffee/Facebook

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It was an unseasonably warm 60 degrees on Saturday afternoon (Dec. 3) in Old Town for the Campagna Center’s 51st Scottish Christmas Walk Parade.

The parade is one of the most popular events in the city, bringing thousands of participants, including Irish dancers, historic reenactors and the City of Alexandria Pipes and Drums. It is considered the highlight of a weekend full of events.

This year’s grand marshal was former City Council Member Del Pepper.

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Updated at 5:45 p.m. Mia’s Italian Kitchen has a permanent home in Alexandria.

Douglas Development Corp. sold 100 King Street to Alexandria Restaurant Partners for $8.6 million on October 28, according to city records.

That’s more than twice what the three-story building at the corner of King and S. Union Streets is worth for tax purposes, as its value was last assessed at $3.6 million in January.

“The last three-to-four years we’ve been focused on opening restaurants in buildings we own,” Scott Shaw, ARP’s managing partner told ALXnow. “It’s a business strategy that provides stability and predictability for the restaurant.”

Shaw said that the $8.6 million building price was justified by the rent that they paid at the space.

Douglas Development Corp. bought it in 2009 for $2.5 million, and the assessed value of the property peaked at $4 million in 2020.

Mia’s Italian Kitchen has leased in the space since April 2018, becoming a success story in a previously troublesome property.

ARP leases locations at Vola’s Dockside GrillRiverside Taco CompanyJoe Theismann’s RestaurantThe Majestic. The company owns Ada’s on the River and Barca Pier and Wine Bar. The company also owns a Mia’s Italian Kitchen and Café Tu Tu Tango in Orlando, Florida.

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Got your kilt ready? Alexandria’s Scottish Christmas Walk weekend is back.

Former City Councilwoman Del Pepper will take center stage as the grand Marshal of the 51st Alexandria Scottish Christmas Walk Parade. Record crowds are expected for the parade, which is free to the public and features dozens of Scottish clans, dancers, bagpipers and the City of Alexandria Pipes and Drums.

While the parade is the main attraction, the weekend of events is capped off Friday night (Dec. 2) with the Campagna Center’s Taste of Scotland at the Torpedo Factory Art Center. It cost $200 for a single ticket and $375 for two tickets for the party, which includes “whiskey-tasting stations, hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine bars and a custom art exhibit,” according to the Campagna Center.

The Scottish Christmas Walk Parade

The one-mile-long parade starts at 11 a.m. at the intersection of Wolfe and St. Asaph Streets, and travels north to Queen Street, then turns right (east toward the Potomac River) on Queen for three blocks, turns right on Fairfax Street, right on King Street and then concludes at the reviewing stand in front of City Hall (301 King Street).

“Bagpipers include the Kiltie Band of York and the City of Alexandria Pipes and Drums plus a bagpiping Santa closing the parade,” Visit Alexandria said. “A pipe band and color guard will be presented by St. Andrew’s Society of Washington, D.C., which is a charitable and social fraternity of Scottish descendants established in Alexandria in 1760, and a founding parade partner along with Campagna Center and the Old Presbyterian Meeting House.”

Not to be missed — at the conclusion of the parade, a number of pipe bands play in unison in front of the reviewing stand.

Santa at The Torpedo Factory

After the parade, the Torpedo Factory Art Center will host a holiday festival.

The event starts at 2 p.m., and art enthusiasts will have an hour-and-a-half before the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will be sailed by a fire boat to the city’s pier — just outside the Torpedo Factory — at 3:30 p.m.

Holiday Boat Parade

Keep pocket warmers handy, because the festivities end with the Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights on Saturday night.

More than 50 boats will sail in this year’s parade, which is sponsored by Amazon.

Enjoy dockside festivities in Waterfront Park including a pop-up beer garden from Port City Brewing Company, food, activities and more,” Visit Alexandria said. “Plus, check out a new family friendly event on the North Waterfront at Canal Center and Oronoco Bay Park featuring artist vendors, music, kids activities and more.”

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1225 and 1229 King Street (image via Google Maps)

In what’s become a trend in Alexandria, the owners of an office and retail building in Old Town are hoping to have the upstairs space converted to residential units.

The buildings in question are 1225 and 1229 King Street, the buildings containing American in Paris Boutique and the T-Mobile store on the street level in the middle of Old Town.

In a special use permit application, the building owners said the change to the building type would take advantage of ordinances codifying housing uses above retail space. The application said the residential use will be within the existing footprint of the building. Applicant King Street Apartments LLC said in the application it would convert the upstairs units into 12 condominium units.

Alexandria has become a capital for office-to-residential conversions, ranking fourth in the nation in conversions from office space to apartments or condominiums between 2020 and 2021. Office buildings throughout Old Town are in the process of being converted to residential spaces.

Still, City Manager Jim Parajon warned the City Council in a recent meeting not to be too hasty in abandoning office space, saying that the city could lose valuable office space in a rush to follow an economic trend. In nearby Vienna, the Town Council recently rejected a townhouse development replacing office space — partially on the basis of clinging to hopes that the office market will return.

“The conversion approach for outdated office makes a lot of sense, but I want to be careful that we don’t lose good office space to conversion,” Parajon said. “That’s really important, and that may mean we play out a cycle or two in the economy so we’re looking at a balance of commercial to residential.”

The conversion of 1225 and 1229 King Street is scheduled for review at the Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 3.

Image via Google Maps

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Last week, Alexandria’s City Council voted to permanently expand the King Street pedestrian zone to encompass the waterfront block.

The change is the latest in a push for a more pedestrian-friendly King Street that started in 2019. Now, both the unit block (the one closest to the water) and the 100 block are closed to vehicle traffic except in emergencies, with the streetscape converted into a place for pedestrians to walk and local businesses to expand onto the sidewalks.

An overwhelming majority of respondents to a city survey about the unit block being converted to a pedestrian zone said they saw the change as either “very positive” or “positive”.

No plans have been announced yet for whether the pedestrian zone will be extended.

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Buffet at Bollywood Masala La Plata (via Bollywood Masala/Facebook)

Old Town could be getting a new Indian restaurant next year, replacing a sushi restaurant in the heart of Old Town.

According to a recently filed special use permit, Ichiban Sushi and Ramen at 211 King Street in Old Town could be undergoing a change to become a new Bollywood Masala.

Bollywood Masala is an Indian restaurant currently based out of La Plata, Maryland. The restaurant features dishes like vindaloo and the eponymous masala along with other regionally-based meals like lamb gosht and various types of curry. The restaurant also features chai and coffee on the menu.

Staff at Bollywood Masala said the restaurant is currently working through the permitting process but the plan is to open in summer 2023.

Photo via Bollywood Masala/Facebook

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Santa Claus will ride into Old Town on the King Street Trolley this Saturday night (Nov. 19) for the annual holiday tree lighting ceremony in front of City Hall.

The party starts at 6 p.m. at Market Square (301 King Street), where Santa and Mayor Justin Wilson will do their part to reduce seasonal darkness by lighting the 40,000 lights on the city’s 40-foot-tall holiday tree.

Town Crier Ben Fiore-Walker will cap off the event, which will include a program of holiday carols.

Admission is free, and the event will occur rain or shine.

https://twitter.com/AlexandriaVAGov/status/1592980044879892480

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Rendering of the unit block of King Street with street closure (via City of Alexandria)

The King Street Pedestrian Zone was officially expanded to reach Waterfront Park on Saturday (Nov. 12).

Council voted unanimously and without discussion on the permanent conversion of the unit block of King Street and the northern portion of Strand Street.

The City shut down the 100 block of King Street in 2020 to help small businesses with outdoor seating during the pandemic. The unit block of King Street and Strand Street were later added to the pilot.

A survey of community feedback on the closure found that 91% (of 1,853 survey respondents) rated the pedestrian zone as very positive, and that 89% of wanted it to be permanent.

The Waterfront Commission also approved the plan, and suggested to City Council the following “enhancements”:

  • Strengthening temporary barricades to provide for the safety and security of pedestrians in these blocks until full implementation of street improvements
  • Installing a sign on Strand Street at the intersection of Prince Street identifying “no outlet” or “dead end” and noting limited parking available on Strand Street
  • Closing Strand Street at Prince Street and designating the metered parking spaces adjacent to Waterfront Park as Handicapped Parking and City Service Vehicles Only. Continue to allow vehicle access to the private garage at 110 S. Union Street. This would provide additional parking near the waterfront for disabled individuals, and would discourage traffic from drivers looking for limited parking in the 100 block of Strand Street
  • Designating specific resources to provide appropriate City maintenance and security of the pedestrian zone
  • Installing pavement markings on Strand Street clearly identifying the turnaround and no parking areas on Strand Street

Conversion costs will be minimal, said City Manager Jim Parajon in a note to Council.

“If the closure is approved, there will be minimal costs associated with updating parking signage and refreshing striping,” Parajon wrote. “All of these costs can be handled with existing budgets. Also, since there will be four metered spaces eliminated along the Waterfront Park to provide turnaround space and parking for police, this will total approximately $8,000 per year, or $666/month.”

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