Alexandria, VA

Women’s clothing store LOFT (423 King Street) has permanently closed.

The store had mostly positive reviews and was often busy, but was victim to Ascena Retail Group’s wider bankruptcy filings. The store had survived earlier rounds of closings this summer, which had claimed the stores in the Tysons Corner Center and Potomac Mills Mall but was closed as of early December.

The next closest LOFT locations are in Arlington at Pentagon Row (1201 South Joyce Street) and Clarendon (2700 Clarendon Blvd).

Hat tip to @OldTownDogWalks, photo via Google Maps

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This weekend was both Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, and for many local stores it was a hope that holiday shopping could keep local stores alive into 2021.

If you didn’t shop local, it’s not too late to show some support for small businesses in Alexandria: Visit Alexandria is currently sponsoring a Shop Small Week scheduled to run through Sunday, Dec. 6.

For those Alexandrians looking to get holiday shopping done, or just looking to take advantage of sales, did you shop online or in person? Did you buy from local stores or go to some of the larger retailers and Amazon?

Tell us in the poll below and sound off in the comments if you were particularly happy with any local purchase this weekend.

Staff photo by James Cullum

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Alexandria Lighting & Supply, a feature of the Braddock neighborhood for the last 50 years, could be making the move to the West End of Alexandria if approved at a Planning Commission meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) and a City Council meeting after that.

After moving away from its current location at 701 N. Henry St, the store is planning to open in a new building called Avanti 550 at 550 South Pickett Street.

Applicant Avanti Holdings described the lot as a triangular-shaped vacant lot measuring 32,987 square feet. The store would be next to the Cameron Park industrial complex and near the Van Dorn Station shopping center.

The new building would be triangular shaped to fit the lot and would contain both a retail showroom and storage for lighting equipment.

“A portion of the building would be used as a retail showroom and the remaining portion would consist of warehouse/storage primarily for the lighting business,” a staff report said. “The proposed new building would be modern in design and urban in form and include underground parking. The underground parking would be accessed from a new private street along the southern property line.”

The staff report on the proposed new development recommended approval.

The current location in Braddock is eventually slated to be replaced with a new 94-unit residential development with potential to add retail on the ground floor a little further down the road.

Images via City of Alexandria

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Morning Notes

Police Investigate More Shots Fired — “The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a “shots fired” call for service in the 5400 block of Richenbacher Avenue. Expect police activity in the area.” [Twitter]

Local Businesses Hopeful for Holiday Shopping Season — “Victoria Vergason, owner of a vintage barware store, says holiday shoppers this season could make or break some small businesses. ‘[It] is a very, very critical time for small businesses to be able to make their profits and run into the next year,’ she said.” [WUSA9]

Alexandria Virtual Market Opens — “Made in ALX, an Alexandria-based makers market, has opened its virtual doors.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

PNC Looking for New Potomac Yard Branch Manager — “As a Branch Manager within PNC’s Retail organization, you will be based in Alexandria, VA at the Potomac Yards @ Giant branch.” [PNC]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Sometimes buying an existing business is easier than starting from scratch.

We looked through Alexandria listings on BizBuySell and found a bunch of businesses for sale. Many are restaurants, which have been heavily impacted the last several months due to the pandemic.

The website aggregates numerous business sale listings. The names of the businesses and their locations are generally left out of the listings, but there are some exceptions.

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 in Alexandria:

  1. Clyde’s at Mark Center — “Transwestern’s Southeast Investment Services Group and Ten-X are pleased to exclusively present 1700 N. Beauregard Street, a 14,980 square foot restaurant fully occupied by Clyde’s at Mark Center, located inside the Beltway in Alexandria, Virginia. 1700 Beauregard Street is walkable to Mark Center (8,000 employees) and is proximate to I-395 (0.6 mi), offering convenient and quick access to all the major employment centers, numerous single and multifamily housing options and popular lifestyle amenities in Alexandria and the DC metro area at large. Property tours are available by appointment.”
  2. Coffee Cafe in Alexandria — “Coffee cafe in heavy traffic shopping center of Alexandria VA. This coffee shop was established in 2019 and has tons of potential. All the furniture, fixtures and equipment are in perfect condition. Can be converted to fit most menus. The current owner has decided to get out of the food/drink industry and go back to his full time profession. We are now looking for a new owner to take this turn key establishment to the next level. Priced for quick sale.”
  3. New Laundromats for Sale — “Two New Laundromats for Sale in Manassas, VA + Alexandria VA. One is recently renovated other is completely new. Brand new laundromat in a great location! 21st century laundromat with card system, customized folding tables, modern design, with high-powered energy efficient machines. Location is about 4000 SF located near many current and upcoming apartment complexes. Long-term 10 tear lease with 5 year option.”
  4. Profitable Dry-Cleaners for Sale in Northern Virginia — “This dry cleaner is well known in the area for high quality and customer service. This family-owned business has been serving the community for over 30 years at the current location. The retail space has recently been remodeled by the landlord. The business is located in a busy area with heavy foot traffic. The equipment as well as the store itself has been meticulously maintained. The seller is very motivated to sell the business and will accept reasonable offers.”
  5. Absentee-Owner Gourmet Pizza & Italian With Loyal Following — “This high-visibility restaurant has long been a destination and neighborhood favorite with locals – it continues to enjoy a following as a gourmet take-out option for pizza and all Italian cuisine favorites. Purchased in 2019 as a decades-old chef-owned establishment, the new owner invested in a complete turn around, nearly doubling sales and converting the business model to absentee ownership. Owner has refrained from applying for PPP or other SBA loans so that new owner might be able to take advantage of those opportunities.”
  6. Coin Laundry/Laundromats — “No Exception, Non-Disclosure must be signed in person meeting, No emailing signing. We can meet at anywhere in Fairfax county to sign NDA with appointment.”
  7. Pet Grooming Business — “Well-established pet grooming business for sale!”
  8. Sandwich Shop/Deli — “Substantial net positive cash flow after 31 years in business. Excellent old town location. Extended Lease. Business currently operates 6 days per week for breakfast and lunch until 6 so opportunity to extend hours and days under current SUP. No alcohol but license possible. Delivery and growing catering business add to profits. Accountant attested books. Must have a friendly personality to be successful. Employees likely to stay. NDA required for confidentiality.”
  9. Restaurant & Bar Approved for Hookah MRB VA 943 — “With a capacity of 370, this 2 level establishment is perfect for private events, birthdays or work outings. The first floor is separated into two rooms with a dining area, bar and dance floor with stage/DJ booth while the 2nd room has a large bar, DJ booth and dance floor. The top floor is used for the current owners office, as well as storage, bathrooms and employee lounge. The large kitchen has been kept in pristine condition and is ready to take on any menu or food you desire. Large 18 foot hood system, 2 ice machines and humongous walk in freezers/fridge. All kitchen equipment is high end and very well maintained. This restaurant fits most menus and concepts. The current owner is ready to retire and is ready for a new owner to take this establishment to the next level.”
  10. Mexican Restaurant & Bar Can Convert MRB VA 876 — “This Profitable Mexican Restaurant for Sale has been open and operating profitably for eight years. The location is on a high traffic road and surrounded by residential. This is a turnkey situation on a restaurant that has been grossing in excess of $840,000 annually with profits to an absentee owner of $80,000 annually. Nice full service bar. Outdoor Seating!! Great opportunity for a new on hand owner/operator to take this business to the next level. MUST SEE.”

See more Alexandria listings here.

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Morning Notes

City’s Guidance for Students Returning Home — “Students and staff should minimize their interactions with others as much as possible in the 14 days before leaving the IHE. Students and staff should also minimize the risk of exposure during travel home. Traveling alone in a private vehicle is the safest option. Students and staff who are unable to limit interactions with others at the IHE may consider quarantining themselves for 14 days after they arrive home.” [City of Alexandria]

Killer ESP Owner Denies Allegations by Quitting Staff — “Presented with some of the specific accusations against him regarding sexual harassment and the shop’s cleanliness, Shelton said, ‘This is outrageous. These lies are more absurd than the first go around.’ He said he would follow up with call, but later texted, ‘I’ve been advised by my attorneys to keep quiet.'” [Washingtonian]

City Urges Shelter During Cold for People Experiencing Homelessness — “The temperatures are dropping into the 20s tonight. The City’s Winter Shelter for individuals and families experiencing homelessness is open in two locations.” [Department of Community and Human Services]

Visit Alexandria Receives Grant to Expand Marketing of City’s Black History — “With the grant, Visit Alexandria will be able to produce videos and other media, including web content about Black-owned businesses and African American heritage sites. The plan is to highlight areas such as those that can be  seen during the Courageous Journey: Alexandria’s Black History Driving Tour and Duke Street Black History Trail.” [Zebra]

Staff photo by James Cullum

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Scott Shaw equates the COVID-19 experience to a Greek tragedy with a beginning, middle and end. Right now, he says, we’re in the middle and looking forward to the third act — a period of eventual recovery.

Shaw, a partner with Alexandria Restaurant Partners, says that his company is similar to a lot of other restaurant companies looking at an uncertain winter on the horizon.

“The first act was reacting, getting through the summer, figuring out what your new business model looks like,” Shaw told ALXnow. “The second act is about getting through the winter, and then the third act will be recovering. The third act, let’s call it next March through next July, with the prospect of a vaccine on-hand, we can begin to return to normalcy and get back on track.”

Shaw and his staff have rehired 300 of the 500 employees the company had before the pandemic hit the city. ARP owns  Mia’s Italian KitchenVola’s Dockside GrillRiverside Taco CompanyJoe Theismann’s RestaurantPalette 22 and The Majestic. The company is currently looking to buy the former Charlie’s on the Avenue in Del Ray, and at Robinson Landing plans to open Ada’s On The River in January and BARCA Wine Bar and Pier in April.

ARP also recently installed air purification technology in all its restaurants. The Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization technology “virtually eliminates static COVID-19… achieving a 99.4% reduction within 30 minutes,” according to a company press release.

“We’re sort of navigating our way through the crisis,” Shaw said. “We’ve been careful with our money to make sure we have enough acorns for the winter.”

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Yesterday, Killer E.S.P. (1012 King Street) manager Mary Gmaz decided she’d had enough.

Gmaz said a recent encounter with owner Rob Shelton left her rattled and she decided to walk out immediately. The rest of the staff left with her, leading to the second mass-quitting among the local coffee shop’s staff this year.

Gmaz and others who quit described the last few months at Killer E.S.P. as a dream job that quickly spiraled into a nightmare.

“When I first got hired, I was ecstatic,” Gmaz said. “It seemed okay when I first started working there. The owner spouted crazy political nonsense, but I thought, ‘That’s just Rob.'”

Gmaz and others said they weren’t aware at first of the previous staff quitting — over Twitter posts calling coronavirus a “scam” and liberalism “a disease” — until customers started checking in to make sure they were being treated fairly.

“I didn’t find out until after my interview when my mom told me in the car, because she read the article,” said Ella Duncan-High, a 10th grade student at Edison High School who started working at the shop this summer. “I was aware of that but I was still willing to train there to see how it goes. From the interview, it was pretty chill. It wasn’t until I was training and I asked Mary and the other girls if they knew anything about it, and they told us Rob’s side of the story.”

Duncan-High said the staff was told that the owner’s Twitter account had been hacked by spiteful former employees, a story Shelton repeated to Washingtonian and other news organizations. Employees said that they’d been told earlier employees had been stealing from the register, but multiple employees noted that security cameras for the store had been taken down and stored in the back of the restaurant.

Shelton could not be reached for comment before publication.

Gmaz, Duncan-High and other employees told ALXnow that what had started as conspiracy theories spiraled over the next few weeks. Duncan-High said one of the earliest alarms was in how Shelton was approaching COVID-19.

“He told me in the interview that masks are stupid and COVID is a sham,” Duncan-High said.

Read More

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Morning Notes

Via Volcán Coffee Roastery Opens in Old Town — “Although the global pandemic slowed them down, the McCauslands finally opened their store this month at 110 S. West St. (the former location of VIP Pet). They are excited to share their passion for coffee in a physical space.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

How Will Small Businesses in Alexandria Survive? — “Amy Rutherford, the owner of Penny Press & Red Barn Mercantile, has been brainstorming since July for new ways to make the holidays simple and safe for her clients. This year, she is adding delivery, gift wrap, and gift boxes to her list of services.” [Local DMV]

Sweet Root Village Pivots to Pop Ups — “It was the end of the summer and many in Alexandria had been homebound far too long. The pop-up markets Sweet Root Village ran in September and October somehow made life more bearable.” [Alexandria Gazette]

Local Chef Dies from Brain Cancer — “An accomplished chef, Hugh and his wife Anne-Claire have owned and operated the award-winning Le Refuge Restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia since taking over the legendary operation from Anne-Claire’s family about 10 years ago.” [Zebra]

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What a week full of news in Alexandria.

With city offices closed due to Veterans Day on Wednesday, there were still a number of big stories.

For the second week in a row, our top story was on a fraudulent mailer that was sent out to a number of residents before election day. In the story, households with Joe Biden signs posted in front yards were sent letters with a Northern Virginia postage mark stating that Biden is a pedophile.

On Monday, we reported the third murder in the city this year. Yousef Tarek Omar, a 23-year-old Texas man, was shot to death in the West End on the afternoon of Saturday, Nov. 7. Police have released few details of the incident, except the victim’s name, the general time of the incident and that it occurred in the 4800 block of W. Braddock Road.

City Councilwoman Del Pepper announced on Tuesday that she will not seek reelection. Pepper has been on the Alexandria City Council since 1985.

“There’s really not much to say,” Pepper told ALXnow. “There’s a time for everything, and I just felt this was my time. I have enjoyed every minute that I’ve served on the City Council.”

We also covered the city’s recovery plan for parts of the city devastated by the pandemic, and it lists a number of programs and strategies for impacted residents and businesses.

On the coronavirus front, Alexandria surpassed 4,500 cases since the beginning of the pandemic in March. The number of fatalities is still 76, and Latino residents have the highest number of infections.

Additionally, our weekly poll got a lot of attention this week. This week we asked about Thanksgiving plans, and 60% of respondents said they were eating at home with their household, 30% are planning a small gathering with at least one guest, and 10% are planning a large gathering of family/friends.

  1. Alexandrians with Joe Biden Yard Signs Get Anonymous Letters Saying Biden is a Pedophile
  2. BREAKING: 23-Year-Old Shot to Death in City’s Third Murder of the Year
  3. ‘Clyde’s at Mark Center’ and Other Businesses for Sale in Alexandria
  4. Del Ray Staple Al’s Steak House for Sale After Owner’s Death
  5. The Waypoint at Fairlington to Break Ground Next Month
  6. Councilwoman Del Pepper Announces She’s Not Running for Reelection
  7. City Council to Consider Publishing Names of Delinquent Real Estate Taxpayers
  8. Upcoming Signage Plan Could Subtly Shape New Potomac Yard Skyline
  9. One Person Injured in West End Carjacking
  10. Alexandria Parents Start #OpenACPS Sign Campaign as School System Begins Partial Reopening
  11. Alexandria Surpasses 4,500 Cases of COVID-19, Counts Now Rising at Summer Pace

Have a safe weekend!

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Alexandria Restaurant Partners has filed a special use permit request to buy the old Charlie’s on the Avenue restaurant in Del Ray and turn it into a concept called “Joe’s Kitchen.”

The SUP was sent in to the city on Nov. 5, and the last day for public comments is Nov. 26.

Charlie’s (1501 Mount Vernon Avenue) closed in January after opening in the former home of Fireflies, which closed in 2017 after 15 years in business.

ARP owns  Mia’s Italian KitchenVola’s Dockside GrillRiverside Taco CompanyJoe Theismann’s RestaurantPalette 22 and The Majestic. It is also developing Ada’s On The River at Robinson Landing.

Image via Charlie’s on the Avenue Facebook

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Sometimes buying an existing business is easier than starting from scratch.

We took a look through Alexandria listings of the website BizBuySell and found a number of businesses for sale. Many are restaurants, which have been heavily impacted the last several months due to the pandemic.

The website aggregates numerous business sale listings. The names of the businesses and their locations are generally left out of the listing.

Reasons for selling, when provided, typically do not mention economic hardship, but more often involve the owner retiring or not having time to actively manage the business.

Here are some that are currently listed in Alexandria:

  1. Clyde’s at Mark Center — “Transwestern’s Southeast Investment Services Group and Ten-X are pleased to exclusively present 1700 N. Beauregard Street, a 14,980 square foot restaurant fully occupied by Clyde’s at Mark Center, located inside the Beltway in Alexandria, Virginia. 1700 Beauregard Street is walkable to Mark Center (8,000 employees) and is proximate to I-395 (0.6 mi), offering convenient and quick access to all the major employment centers, numerous single and multifamily housing options and popular lifestyle amenities in Alexandria and the DC metro area at large. Property tours are available by appointment.”
  2. Coffee Cafe in Alexandria — “Coffee cafe in heavy traffic shopping center of Alexandria VA. This coffee shop was established in 2019 and has tons of potential. All the furniture, fixtures and equipment are in perfect condition. Can be converted to fit most menus. The current owner has decided to get out of the food/drink industry and go back to his full time profession. We are now looking for a new owner to take this turn key establishment to the next level. Priced for quick sale.”
  3. Absentee-Owner Gourmet Pizza & Italian With Loyal Following — “This high-visibility restaurant has long been a destination and neighborhood favorite with locals – it continues to enjoy a following as a gourmet take-out option for pizza and all Italian cuisine favorites. Purchased in 2019 as a decades-old chef-owned establishment, the new owner invested in a complete turn around, nearly doubling sales and converting the business model to absentee ownership. Owner has refrained from applying for PPP or other SBA loans so that new owner might be able to take advantage of those opportunities.”
  4. Beautiful Hair & Nail Spa for Sale/ Price Reduced — “Great opportunity!!! Serious Inquiries only. Beautiful and well established Hair & Nail Spa for Sale in a very busy shopping center. Seller is retiring after many successful years in the business. Beautiful & Very efficiently designed. 6 years old Spa. Established, loyal customers. Reasonable rent & excellent location. 10 Hair stations, 5 Dryers, 3 Shampoo stations, 8 Manicure Tables, 8 Pedicure chairs, 3 Waxing rooms, 2 Facial Rooms, 1 Body scrub. There is plenty of room to expand. Room to grow by improving social media and other marketing and adding massage service.”
  5. Profitable Sandwich Shop & Deli — “Established in 1955, this well known deli located in a prime location of Alexandria VA is for sale to any qualified buyer. Surrounded by retail and residential on a main road with heavy walking traffic. This restaurant has a very strong following and highly rated on google reviews. The restaurant was completely renovated in 2016 with all brand new furniture, fixtures & high end equipment. The current owner averages a $50,000 cash flow while working limited hours. Do to family circumstances, the owner needs to sell. We are now looking for a new owner/operator to bring this business to the next level.”
  6. Profitable Dry-Cleaners for Sale in Northern Virginia — “This dry cleaner is well known in the area for high quality and customer service. This family-owned business has been serving the community for over 30 years at the current location. The retail space has recently been remodeled by the landlord. The business is located in a busy area with heavy foot traffic. The equipment as well as the store itself has been meticulously maintained. The seller is very motivated to sell the business and will accept reasonable offers.”
  7. Two Laundromats For Sale in Northern Virginia — “Two New Laundromats for Sale in Manassas, VA + Alexandria VA. One is recently renovated other is completely new. Brand new laundromat in a great location! 21st century laundromat with card system, customized folding tables, modern design, with high-powered energy efficient machines. Location is about 4000 SF located near many current and upcoming apartment complexes. Long-term 10 tear lease with 5 year option.”
  8. Established & Well-Known Hair Salon in Old Town Alexandria — “Great opportunity to own a well-known hair salon that has been established for over 30 years in Old Town Alexandria. The business is ideally located on a prominent thoroughfare with excellent street visibility. The salon owners have done an excellent job building a successful salon with reliable revenue and cash flow over the years. There is a stable client base, but there is also plenty of room to grow and expand the business.”
  9. Asian Restaurant and Sushi Bar for Sale — “Established Business for Sale. Owner is looking to retire from business. All equipment is owned and in good condition, except the dishwasher is leased. Asking price is negotiable, send your offers!”
  10. Specialty Gift & Souvenir Boutique in the Heart of Old Town Alexandria — “Unique opportunity to own a specialty gift and souvenir shop in the heart of the Old Town Alexandria. The boutique is located in a high traffic part of Old Town and has been a destination shopping destination to both locals and tourists for decades.”

See more Alexandria listings here.

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