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The Bank of America was robbed on April 3, 2023 (staff photo by James Cullum)

A 27-year-old Maryland man has been charged with robbing two separate Alexandria banks in March and April.

Jaquan Royal, of Prince George’s County, was arrested on May 24 in connection to the robbery at the Wells Fargo Bank in Arlandria (3506 Mount Vernon Avenue) on March 23, and at the Bank of America in Carlyle (415 John Carlyle Street) on April 3.

In both cases, the suspect allegedly handed the teller a note demanding cash and fled with an undisclosed amount. No one was injured in either robbery.

Royal is being held in another jurisdiction and goes to court on June 12.

The Alexandria Police Department is continuing to investigate the incident and asks anyone with information to contact Detective John Brattelli at 703-746-6699, at [email protected], or by calling the APD non-emergency number at 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.

Gostov Boulangerie & Brasserie will soon open at 2213 Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray (Via Facebook)

After several months of delay, French bistro Gostov Boulangerie & Brasserie (2213 Mount Vernon Avenue) is set to open next Tuesday in Del Ray.

The notification that the bistro is opening was made by the Del Ray Business Association (Visit Del Ray) on Facebook and Instagram.

“We are so excited — @gustaveboulangerie (finally!) opens on Tuesday, May 30 at 10am,” Visit Del Ray posted.

Owner Abderrahim Moussaif bought the 14,300 square-foot Del Ray property at the corner of Mount Vernon and E. Del Ray Avenues for $3 million in 2019. The bistro is the former home of Bean Creative, which also closed in 2019. Moussaif also runs four Madison Day School child care centers in Alexandria.

The restaurant will serve macarons and feature an espresso bar, although the rest of the menu is under wraps. The company’s website promises an “authentic and traditional French experience.”

Moussaif could not be reached for comment. He previously wanted to open the restaurant earlier this year, and said that the  bistro will be able to serve 47 customers at a time, and that there will be outdoor seating.

The restaurant will be open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. every day, except Sunday when it will open at 8 a.m.

Image via Facebook

Crooked Beat Records is now closed at 802 N. Fairfax Street in Old Town. (Photo via Crooked Beat Records/Facebook)

Crooked Beat Records will reopen in Del Ray in the first week in June, owner Bill Daly tells ALXnow.

The record shop closed at 802 N. Fairfax Street in Old Town on April 29, a week after Record Store Day. Daly signed a five-year lease for the 1,200-square-foot basement in 2417 Mount Vernon Avenue — in the same building that houses Cheesetique, the Del Ray School Of Music and Piece Out Del Ray.

“We’re looking forward to reopening,” Daly said. “We’re getting there, but it’s a huge move. There’s a lot of stuff. We were hoping to open on Memorial Day weekend, but it’s likely to be the first week in June.”

Daly said he got more than enough volunteers to help with the move, which he says is 90% complete. The new store is about 200 square feet bigger than the Old Town location, and Daly said the new space will be used to sell more used records. Incidentally, the store isn’t buying used records at the moment since Daly just bought 6,000-to-8,000 old records from estate sales.

A former DJ at North Carolina State University, Daly worked for a record shop chain for years before founding Crooked Beat Records in 1997 in Raleigh. He moved the business to Adams Morgan in D.C. in 2004 and then to Alexandria in 2016.

“It’s bittersweet to close in Old Town,” Daly said. “We’re going to miss it here. In our 25 years this was the best location. Parking was easier and our business increased by 20% than Adams Morgan. Here (in Old Town) they pulled right up, and we were a destination point for people who were into vinyl. They came from Baltimore, Richmond, the Eastern Shore, all over.”

Daly says that updates on the new location will be posted on the Crooked Beat Instagram page.

“The new underground space is going to be great,” he said. “Customers who have seen it say it reminds them of underground record shops in Seattle and Boston.”

Image via Crooked Beat Records/Facebook

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A gas leak across from George Washington Middle School has shut down traffic along Mount Vernon Avenue.

Alexandria Fire Department spokesperson Raytevia Evans said there was a report of a gas leak on the 700 block of Mount Vernon Avenue. Scanner traffic indicated that the incident started around 1:30 p.m.

The work crew said the incident was caused when a gas line was struck across the street from the baseball field.

Police blocked off Mount Vernon Avenue from E. Braddock Road to E. Spring Avenue, with traffic diverted away from the gas leak.

H/t to Andrew Beaujon. James Cullum contributed to this story
Image via Google Maps

Crooked Beat Records at 802 N. Fairfax Street in Old Town. (Photo via Crooked Beat Records/Facebook)

Crooked Beat Records will move from Old Town North to its new Del Ray home the week after Record Store Day on April 22 (Saturday), owner Bill Daly tells ALXnow.

The store’s last day at at 802 N. Fairfax Street will be on Saturday, April 29, after which it will be open on weekends. The new store at 2417 Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray will likely open in June.

“I’ve been starting to move in little by little,” Daly said of the new location. “I just installed the speakers for the stereo system.”

A former DJ at North Carolina State University, Daly worked for a record shop chain for years before founding Crooked Beat Records in 1997 in Raleigh. He moved the business to Adams Morgan in D.C. in 2004 and then to Alexandria in 2016.

Daly is now restocking his used vinyl records with a few estate sale deals.

“We haven’t been buying used records for more than a year to free up storage space,” he said. “Our used records are depleted 80%, and I’m now in talks to pick up 20,000 records in an estate collection.”

Record Store Day is Daly’s biggest day of the year, when world-famous artists release new work in vinyl, like Taylor Swift’s “folklore: the long pond studio sessions.” The store opens at 9 a.m. that day, and there’s a doorman to ensure 25 are allowed in at a time.

“You’ll see 300 people lined up around the block to get records,” Daly said. “A lot of high school girls are calling me about the Taylor Swift album. For some of them it will be the first record they ever bought.”

Record sales climbed 20% nationally last year, accounting for $1.2 billion in sales, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. It’s also the first time since 1988 that record sales have outpaced CDs.

“There’s a lot of factors to account for it,” Daly said. “Some would say records have a warmer sound, that they’re a physical medium and more tangible than CDs. For all our 25 years of being open, the vinyl customers are the most loyal. They just continue to come, sometimes from two and three hours away just to buy from us.”

Via Crooked Beat Records/Facebook

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Alexandria Police lights (staff photo by James Cullum)

A 33-year-old man with a history of making bomb threats in Alexandria faces three more counts of making bomb threats to the city’s 911 call center.

Mikhail Stefon Douglas, of Severn, Maryland, faces three counts of making bomb threats to the city’s Department of Emergency and Customer Communications call-takers on Nov. 8, 2022. No explosives were found during a police search of the DECC facility at 2525 Mount Vernon Avenue and no one was injured, according to a recently released search warrant affidavit.

The Alexandria calls were made between 7 to 7:30 p.m. from three separate phones. The numbers were tracked to an Apple iCloud account with three devices (two iPhones and an iPad) owned by Douglas, according to the search warrant affidavit.

Douglas was arrested on Feb. 24 for a similar incident in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. He was charged with making false statements concerning a destructive device — a felony punishable by up to a year in jail. He was also charged with telephone misuse and making false statements to a police officer, which are both misdemeanors. He was denied bond, but his trial was continued after a public defender was unavailable to defend him, according to court records.

Douglas was transferred from Maryland to Alexandria on March 6 and charged with being a fugitive from justice and three counts of making bomb threats, according to court records. He was released the following day from the city jail on a $2,000 unsecured bond, according to the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office. His preliminary hearing in Alexandria is on April 10.

Douglas pleaded guilty in 2016 to making a bomb threat in Alexandria, and was sentenced to a year in prison. All but five days of that sentence was suspended and Douglas was placed on probation for two years, and was required to participate in substance abuse screening, supervised probation and mental health treatment.

Alexandria’s emergency mental health services are available 24 hours a day, and anyone experiencing a crisis can call 703-746-3401.

Stomping Ground in Del Ray

(Updated 6 p.m. on March 13) Del Ray restaurant Stomping Ground will be reopening as a taqueria, its staff are telling customers.

The eight-year-old restaurant at 2309 Mount Vernon will change to a taqueria, although menus have not been prepared. The concept was confirmed by multiple managers with the restaurant group, although a recent post on Facebook says otherwise.

“Sorry, This information is incorrect,” Stomping Ground said in the post. “The name and concept. Please remove this article and call us for a fact check. Thank you!”

Owner Nicole Jones said that she is ready for a change on the company’s website.

“Our team has decided that in April 2023, we will shutter our beloved biscuit house to make way for something entirely new,” Jones said. “We know that the next chapter will hopefully delight our customers again. In the meantime, please join me in saying goodbye to my beloved first restaurant. She has been so good to all of us.”

Jones said that Stomping Ground was impacted by the pandemic, and that cost increases made the restaurant too expensive to run.

“While watching the price of flour, dairy and eggs, the soul of our recipes, skyrocket, I watched my staff become more complacent every day,” Jones wrote. “Without the community, Stomping Ground is not the third space it once was and working there feels more and more like just another job.”

Jones has two years left on her lease and said that she isn’t ready to give up, but that the pandemic changed her on a fundamental level.

“I still have the same team, and for the most part the same customers, although we see less and less of our old regulars,” she wrote. “All of this compounded as I realized I have 2 years left on my lease. Is it time to tap out and close Stomping Ground after 10 years? I simply don’t have the wherewithal to eke out yet another round of changes and the market can only sustain so many price increases. I no longer have the anxiety and adrenaline it took to pivot my business over and over for 2 years. I have pivoted her into something I no longer recognize.”

At the end of her letter, she simply signed off as “Nicole — Janitor, Chef, Owner.”

The full letter is below the jump.

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New sign at The Birchmere (image via City of Alexandria)

Chris Issak, John Waters and Judy Collins are just a few of the dozens of famous artists who petitioned the Alexandria Planning Commission and City Council to approve The Birchmere‘s Special Use Permit request to keep up its flashy new 5-foot-by-2.5-foot digital sign along Mount Vernon Avenue in Arlandria.

The Planning Commission approved the request 7-0 on Tuesday, and it now goes to City Council. Planning Commission Chair Nathan Macek said that the letters with all of the supporting signatures would be “an excellent auction item.”

“Performing artists are now expecting the venues to keep up with the times,” wrote Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Judy Collins. “It is a necessary tool to promote the artists as well as the venue.”

Some requests were simple, like filmmaker John Waters, who wrote, “I am writing to support the Birchmere’s request to be allowed to keep their new LED sign.”

Chris Isaak wrote: “I wholeheartedly support the Birchmere Music Hall in their effort to retain their beautiful new sign. Please help them out… thank you!”

Gary Oelze, the owner of the music hall, erected the large electric sign last summer without city approval, prompting a request from the city manager’s office to go through an official process. Oelze, who was recently named a Living Legend of Alexandria, died last month.

“I think you know we do have a process in place for digital signs,” Macek said. “This is probably a case where they should have come in advance of putting the sign in.”

The Commission also approved a request to keep the sign lit until midnight, as well as the installation of a smaller sign at the entrance of the venue.

The following artists wrote letters in support of the new sign:


Alexandria’s balmy winter has made a few of its parking lots prime locations for car meetups.

Car enthusiasts, car owners, their friends and children hung out for nearly four hours on Thursday night in the parking lot at 251 W. Glebe Road — near the intersection with Mount Vernon Avenue.

From 7-11 p.m., more than 100 cars were parked in the lot, which is home to El Cuscatleco Restaurant, a Dollar Plus store and a Sherwin-Williams Paint Store.

Last night’s meetup was the second consecutive Thursday meetup in the parking lot. Attendees played loud music on speakers, and there was a strong smell of marijuana in the air, as well as a few open containers of alcohol.

Most of the drivers were from out of town, with crews including the Brothers Car Club, Stay Humble Car Club and Real Street 47 Crew.

The groups pop up  not just in Alexandria, but throughout northern Virginia and in Maryland.

“The cops don’t mess with us,” said Omar M., who lives in Maryland and attends the meetups with friends every Thursday. “We’re peaceful.”

The groups will have to find a new lot to call home, though, once construction begins on a massive affordable housing complex at the W. Glebe Road location.

Alexandria Police did not comment on the meetups, but police cruisers surveil the events and occasionally drive through to move cars blocking access. There was also a meetup this month in the Target parking lot (3101 Richmond Highway) in Potomac Yard.

Many of the meetups are listed on the Instagram page DMV_meetups.

One of the biggest meets of the year will take place next Saturday, March 4. The DMV Mega Meet 2023 will be held at Custom T’s Motor Sports Park in Colonial Beach, Virginia, and the event promises to include drag racing, a burnout pit, food and music.

A flier for a meetup in the parking lot of 251 W. Glebe Road (via DMV_meetups/Instagram)

Flier via Instagram

A man was pistol-whipped in the 4100 block of Mount Vernon Avenue on Feb. 13, 2023 (staff photo by James Cullum)

No arrests were made after a man was pistol-whipped in Arlandria on Monday night, according to the Alexandria Police Department.

APD was dispatched to the 4100 block of Mount Vernon Avenue at around 10:30 p.m., and found an adult male with slight injuries. The man refused medical assistance, according to police.

No suspect description was available.

Anyone with information on this incident can call the Alexandria Police Department non-emergency number at 703-746-44444. Callers can remain anonymous.

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