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(Updated 9:35 p.m.) It was overcast and cool — the perfect weather for the Campagna Center’s 52nd 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 marshals were Congressman Don Beyer (D-8th) and his wife, Megan.

Enjoy the photos!


(Updated at 11:45 a.m.) After more than 200 years in business, Alexandria’s Smoot Lumber yard is shutting down today.

The Alexandria-area supplier of mouldings, doors and windows has been a staple for local builders since it was founded in 1822, and now its owner Builders FirstSource says that customers should visit its lumber yards in Manassas, Manassas Park, Springfield and in Waldorf, Maryland.

Builders FirstSource is at a “juncture of change,” Market Manager James Barbes wrote in a Nov. 29 letter to customers. Barbes did not say what the future holds for the sprawling property at 6295-20 Edsall Road.

“After thorough consideration, we are announcing the integration of our Smoot Lumber location with our other local Builders FirstSource and TW Perry locations. This strategic consolidation allows us to streamline operations while continuing to provide you with the exceptional service and premium Smoot moulding profiles you’ve come to rely on.”

Barbes continued, “Our commitment to Alexandria’s rich heritage remains unwavering, and we are pleased to assure you that a line of historical Smoot moulding profiles will continue to be available.”

Barbes also said, “the experienced and dedicated team members from Smoot Lumber will seamlessly transition to new roles within the market, ensuring that your interactions with us remain as dependable and customer-focused as ever.”

The transition isn’t seamless for all employees. Ed King has worked at the lumber yard for 27 years, 14 as a manager. He was told on Wednesday that his last day would be on Dec. 30, after he helps with the transition.

“I ain’t missed a day in 27 years,” King said. “I know every stick of wood in this joint.”

King said he was offered a severance package and will take the next six months off.

“I’m going to take a vacation and then decide what’s next after that,” King said. “I deserve a little break, but I’m sad to see it go. This has been my home away from home.”

Mike Dameron, owner of Alexandria-based Windmill Hill Home Design Build, said it’s a big loss for local builders.

“In one way or another, Smoot Lumber has been an integral part of the local and regional construction supply community for longer than any of us have been in business,” Dameron said. “It will be a major loss to see them leave the city.”

A brief history of Smoot Lumber is below.

Founded in 1822 in Alexandria, Virginia under the name J.H.D. Smoot, Smoot has been through many changes over the years, including name changes such as W.A. Smoot, Smoot Lumber & Coal, Smoot and Co., Smoot Lumber, and now part of the BMC family as BMC Smoot Lumber. Over the years, Smoot has sold lumber, coal, sand, gravel, salt and plaster, with the mainstay being custom high-end millwork and mouldings.

While Lincoln and Douglas were holding their great debates of 1858, Smoot Lumber had already been supplying millwork to many of the most important buildings in our nation’s capital. After the destruction of the Civil War, Smoot was there to help rebuild Washington and Alexandria. And when the National Park Service needed to find clear fir boards in order to build extra bleachers for President Kennedy’s funeral processions, Smoot was honored to answer the call and play a small part in history.

Over the years, Smoot has also worked on other important historical landmarks to include The White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Smithsonian, and Mount Vernon.

Dance Academy of Virginia is opening on January 6, 2024 at 2402 Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray (staff photo by James Cullum)

Get your ballet slippers ready, because a new dance school is soon opening in Del Ray.

Dance Academy of Virginia recently erected a temporary sign and started advertising ballet, point, contemporary, jazz, lyrical, hip-hop, tap and musical theater classes in advance of their January 6 opening at 2402 Mount Vernon Avenue, the former home of Yoga In Daily Life.

The business was founded in McLean during the height of the pandemic in mid-2020, and owner Katherine Horrigan just bought the 4,900-square-foot building in Del Ray. The details of the purchase are not yet publicly available on the city website, but the building was for sale for $2 million.

“This is now our home now,” Horrigan said. “Getting an opportunity to buy this facility and say that we now have dance here and any art programming that may we may pursue in the future is an honor.”

While all ages are welcome, the school focuses on teaching kids.

“Dance is a tool to learn how to learn a lot of things in life,” Horrigan said. “It’s going to be uncomfortable, it’s going to be hard. You’re not always going to want to do it. You’re going to put in literal sweat and a time commitment, but it’s putting in those reps that you actually start to build off of and build a skill. When you have that skill, you can do so much with it.”

via Dance Academy of Virginia/Facebook

Horrigan, who is also an adjunct professor of dance at George Mason University, has a bachelor’s degree in dance from Fordham University and a master’s degree in arts management from George Mason University. After graduating from Fordham, she embarked on a decade-long dance career with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Knee injuries prompted her retirement, after which she started teaching at GMU and became the director of the Adagio Ballet School of Dance in Arlington.

The pandemic upended the dancing business, providing Horrigan an opportunity to create her own school.

“Covid was an opportunity for me to open my own school because students were displaced,” she said. “I was able to bring dance teachers together and administrators and immediately bring the team together to build the company and we’ve just been growing ever since. We’re in our fourth year now and ready to expand into Del Ray.”

Horrigan said that the school acts as a second home for many of her students.

“Kids have their birthday parties together and they becomes friends,” she said. “They’ll have their school friends, but then they also have their dance friends.”

Dance Academy of Virginia dancers can be next seen at the Del Ray Christmas Tree and menorah lightings this Sunday at 6 p.m.

Dance photo via Facebook

Crème de la Crème is moving to 907 King Street in Old Town in March 2024 (via Facebook)

French and Italian tableware and home goods boutique Crème de la Crème will open at 907 King Street in March.

The Middleburg-based retailer recently signed a five-year lease with building owner EastBanc for the 2,200-square-foot property formerly home to Mackie’s Bar and Grill. The Old Town store will join the company’s two locations in Virginia — in Middleburg and Richmond — and one store in Frederick, Maryland.

Crème de la Crème was founded in 2000 by Tara and Ben Wegdam. The couple also own three other retail shops in Middleburg — Loulou, Zest and Brick and Mortar.

“We have been looking for years at expanding our presence into Alexandria and finally found a place that will work for our format,” said Tara Wegdam. “We have so many customers from the D.C. and Alexandria area that have been asking us for a retail location closer by, so we are extremely excited to open our doors at 907 King Street next Spring.”

Philippe Lanier, a principal at EastBanc, said that the neighborhood is perfect for the boutique.

“We have no doubt that their unique store experience and carefully-curated goods will attract locals and visitors alike looking for one-of-a-kind gifts and tableware,” Lanier said.

Image via Facebook


Joy on the Avenue is officially open to the public in Del Ray.

The Christmas-themed pop-up bar at 2312 Mount Vernon Avenue softly opened on Tuesday night, just in time for the long holiday weekend.

Owner Bill Blackburn said that the restaurant bar is the most festively decorated of its kind in Alexandria.

“It’s the same formula with the pop-up that we’ve followed the last two holiday seasons,” Blackburn said. “We have a very creative cocktail menu with some familiar favorites, some new creations this year and some nibbles to spread some holiday cheer.”

The menu (in the photo gallery above) includes concoctions like “We Forgot Kevin!” with Tito’s vodka, St. Germaine, cranberry juice, lemon, bitters, jalapeno honey, syrup and ginger beer.

It took nearly two weeks to get the annual pop-up ready, since Blackburn and staff had to pack away all of the Halloween decorations from the bar’s previous iteration as Nightmare on the Avenue.

Blackburn said that Joy on the Avenue will stay up until the first week in January, when it will wrap with the annual Festivus party.

Royal Restaurant (image via Google Maps)

Royal Restaurant, now under new ownership, is the latest Alexandria restaurant to seek permission to swap out some of its parking space for more outdoor seating.

The restaurant is hoping to trade 10 parking spaces for 60 outdoor seats. Another 30 seats will be added to an alley on the west side of the building.

The proposal would add an elevated deck outside the building on part of the parking lot.

Royal Restaurant isn’t the first to trade parking space for outdoor seating, several restaurants have turned parking areas into outdoor seating.

Outdoor seating took off in Alexandria during Covid, and the city has been working to make it easier for restaurants to make temporary outdoor seating permanent.

Reception to the change was mixed in the comments and on social media.

“Glad the restaurant is ‘evolving’,” one commenter said. “However I loved the small-town neighborhood feel of the restaurant… The parking really helped us. My parents are in their 80s and look forward to going to Royals. The changes will be hard for them.”

“How unfortunate,” a commenter on Facebook said, “parking was a major perk at the Royal since street parking options are limited.”

But others said the trade-off was a “no-brainer” and noted that there’s often ample street parking on N. St. Asaph Street and nearby streets.

“An additional 90 seats for paying customers at the expense of only a few parking spaces is a no-brainer,” one commenter said.

Image via Google Maps

The Nightmare On The Avenue pop-up bar at 2312 Mount Vernon Avenue is open. (staff photo by James Cullum)

The Nightmare on the Avenue is over, so to speak.

The seasonal pop-up bar Nightmare on the Avenue closed after nearly two months of serving Halloween-inspired cocktails and food. Now the team from the Homegrown Restaurant Group will spend the next few weeks transforming the space into the Christmas-themed “Joy On The Avenue.”

“We are pleased to bring the third installment of Joy on the Avenue back to Del Ray, and exited to start spreading cheer sometime around Thanksgiving,” HRG owner Bill Blackburn told ALXnow.

The pop-up is located between HRG’s other Del Ray restaurants Pork Barrel BBQ and Holy Cow Del Ray on Mount Vernon Avenue.

The holiday concept will stay up until New Year’s, and will be transformed for the winter and spring.

Pepperoni pizza (via RedRocks/Facebook)

The owner of a number of coffee shops in and around Alexandria just got into the pizza business.

Last month, Nga Ho submitted paperwork with the city requesting a change in ownership after buying RedRocks Old Town (904 King Street) from Firebrick Food Group, Inc., which opened the 2,400-square-foot, 98-seat restaurant in 2009.

Staff at RedRocks Old Town say that the restaurant will continue as-is, just under new ownership.

Ho also owns four Java Loco & Bubble Tea locations in the area, one of which is in Alexandria (289 S. Van Dorn Street), as well as Ocha Tea in Annandale.

Firebrick Food Group still owns its Columbia Heights location in D.C.

The details of the sale were not publicly disclosed. ALXnow has reached out to the new owner for comment.

Image via RedRocks/Facebook

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Good Thursday morning, Alexandria!

☀️ Today’s weather: Frost will clear by 10 a.m., making way for a sunny day with a high near 51. A northwest wind will shift to a westerly direction at approximately 6 mph in the afternoon. The night will be clear, with temperatures dropping to around 34 and a south wind at 5 mph.

🚨 You need to know

Barkhaus dog outside (photo via Barkhaus/Facebook)

Dog-friendly bar Barkhaus (529 E. Howell Avenue) has been a lone wolf since opening just off Route 1 in 2020, but the Washington Business Journal reported the restaurant is joining the Bark Social pack.

Bark Social is a budding chain with three locations across Bethesda, Baltimore and Philadelphia. Barkhaus will be converted to the fourth Bark Social, with more planned in Maryland and California.

Washington Business Journal said that while Barkhaus will rebrand as Bark Social and gain some of that chain’s services, Barkhaus’ full kitchen will remain in place and possibly be added to other Bark Social locations.

The change is planned to happen over time, the Washington Business Journal reported, rather than an abrupt overnight rebranding.

Photo via Barkhaus/Facebook

📈 Wednesday’s most read

The following are the most-read ALXnow articles for Nov 1, 2023.

  1. UPDATED: Alexandria City High School students dismissed early due to possible bomb threat (6930 views)
  2. Alexandria man allegedly beaten, robbed and forced to strip naked at knifepoint in West End (6075 views)
  3. Former manager of Hanks Oyster Bar in Old Town pleads guilty to embezzling $680K (4420 views)

🗞 Other local coverage

📅 Upcoming events

Here is what’s going on today in Alexandria, from our event calendar.

Hank’s Oyster Bar (image via Hank’s Oyster Bar/Facebook)

The former manager of Hank’s Oyster Bar faces years in prison after pleading guilty to embezzling $680,000 from the restaurant.

Claude Ibrahim, 53, pleaded guilty in the Alexandria Circuit Court to nine counts of felony embezzlement and eight counts of misdemeanor embezzlement.

Ibrahim, who was released on bond, was indicted in May on 17 counts of felony embezzlement after creating “biographical and deposit information for five fictitious employees at Hank’s Oyster Bar and submitted biweekly timesheets for them while receiving their pay,” according to Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter.

Porter continued, “The first false employee account was set up in June 2014 and the embezzlement scheme continued until the Defendant’s termination in November 2022. When confronted about the false employees, the Defendant admitted her actions.”

Ibrahim will be sentenced on March 21, 2024, and faces a maximum of up to 20 years for each felony embezzlement count, and a maximum of one year per count of misdemeanor embezzlement. The maximum penalty for all of the counts combined is 188 years in prison.

Image via Hank’s Oyster Bar/Facebook


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