Alexandria, VA

A car crashed into the Pet Valu store in Arlandria just after noon on Wednesday, Feb. 12.

No one was injured in the incident at 3819 Mount Vernon Avenue, the driver was not charged and there were no customers in the store at the time.

“It was like a movie,” a store staffer told ALXnow. “I was very close to where she crashed. She slammed in really hard and she ran into the register. I just stood there watching in shock. It was like it happened in slow motion.”

The store recently replaced its front door and is in the process of replacing a couple of windows, staff told ALXnow.

The driver, who was going to the store to pick up dog food, was parking her new orange Subaru Forester, and stepped on the gas instead of the brake, we’re told.

“As soon as it happened, I got the lady out of the car and gave her some water,” the Pet Valu employee said. “She was in shock. She was like, ‘Am I inside the store?'”

The Pet Valu is next door to a Topper’s Pizza and MOM’s Organic Market, and is across the street from The Waffle Shop.

The driver ended up not buying dog food that day.

Map via Google Maps

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Less than two years after opening its doors in Del Ray, Charlie’s on the Avenue is closing.

Owners Jeremy Barber and Justus Frank told customers that the family-friendly restaurant at 1501 Mount Vernon Ave. will be shutting down after this weekend. The last day will be Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 2).

“We appreciate all the support you have shown us and continue to show us at our sister restaurants (Live Oak Restaurant and The Garden),” Barber and Frank announced on their website. “As we close Charlie’s a new chapter begins for us at Live Oak. Look for a new menu equipped with some of Charlie’s favorites, a few new looks, and a few familiar faces.”

The restaurant, which served American fare, plus beer and wine, was previously home to FireGlies, which closed in 2017 after 15 years in business.

At the end of the note to customers, Barber and Frank quoted Chef Gordon Ramsay, who said: “I don’t like looking back. I’m always constantly looking forward. I’m not the one to sort of sit and cry over spilled milk. I’m too busy looking for the next cow.”

To our loyal guests and friends, It saddens us to inform you that Sunday, February 2nd will be the last day of…

Posted by Charlie's On The Avenue on Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Image via Charlie’s on the Avenue Facebook

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It will be more than a year until Bonaventure Realty makes a move on plans for a swath of properties it recently purchased along Mount Vernon Ave. in Del Ray, according its Vice President Jeremy Moss.

The company, which last summer bought the properties at 2401, 2403 and 2411-2419 on Mount Vernon Ave., has no immediate plans for changes and jumped at the chance to purchase the properties.

The reality is that when the properties became available, this was a once in a generation opportunity,” Moss told ALXnow. “All the current uses have remained the same. We still have retail and residential uses, and we intend to honor the existing uses in place.” 

The properties include the Alexandria Department of Community and Human Services (2525 Mount Vernon Ave.), which has a lease for an additional 2.5 years, as well as Cheesetique (2411 Mount Vernon Ave.), the recently shuttered Catch on the Avenue restaurant, a number of retail and residential properties and a 144-space parking lot across from Pat Miller Square on Mount Vernon Ave. and E. Oxford Ave.   

Moss said that Bonaventure will make no moves on the area until the city updates its  2005 Mount Vernon Avenue Business Plan and 2003 Long-Term Vision and Action Plan for the Arlandria neighborhood in the spring of 2021.

Gayle Reuter, an Alexandria Living Legend and member of the Del Ray Business Association, said that misinformation has been spreading regarding Bonaventure’s intentions. The rumors, she said, have spread largely because of Amazon’s HQ2 development in Pentagon City, Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus at Potomac Yard and the recent groundbreaking of the Potomac Yard Metro station.

“I was pleased to get to meet with Bonaventure recently and am excited to welcome them to Del Ray and in hearing their interest in being involved with the community,” Reuter said. “They’ve already reached out to sponsor several of our events, and I think they will be great new neighbors.”

Bonaventure’s President Dwight Dunton was raised in Del Ray and is a graduate of T.C. Williams High School. He’s also a trustee with the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria.

“Alexandria has a place in Dwight’s heart and he’s certainly sensitive to the uniqueness of Del Ray and the vibrancy of the neighborhood,” Moss said.  

See: With Amazon on the Horizon, City Begins Update to Arlandria and Del Ray Plans

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The 4th annual Del Ray Candy Cane Bar Crawl will bring holiday revelers to Mount Vernon Avenue this weekend.

From 1-6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14, fifteen restaurants across Del Ray will have specials on holiday cocktails and beers. Raffles, a costume contest, and a photo booth are planned for different restaurants, with trolley transportation connecting the different venues.

Advance tickets to the bar crawl are $15, or $20 at the door. All proceeds from the bar crawl go to benefit Community Lodgings, an Alexandria nonprofit that helps families escape homelessness and establish self-sufficiency.

The first 250 registrants will receive a 16-ounce event souvenir cup, according to the event description, and bar crawl t-shirts will be available for sale the day of the event.

Participating restaurants include:

But the bar crawl isn’t the only festive event this weekend in Del Ray. There’s a holiday sing-along at the Del Ray United Methodist Church (100 Windsor Avenue) on Friday, among a number of other holiday activities planned for the area.

Photo via Del Ray Candy Cane Bar Crawl/Facebook

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A restaurant in Del Ray has announced that its 100-seat outdoor beer garden will stay open year-round.

The Garden (1503 Mt. Vernon Avenue) has winterized their beer garden, adding blankets, festive lights, heaters, fire pits, and yes, private igloos.

The clear, geodesic igloos are first-come, first-serve, but guests can reserve them ahead of time if requested.

“We wanted to provide our guests with the opportunity to dine and drink outdoors regardless of the time of year,” said The Garden chef and owner Justus Frank. “So many people spend all week indoors at work and like the chance to be under the sun whenever possible.”

The beer garden features 16 different beers and ciders on tap, from local breweries like Port City, Ocelot, and Aslin. Menu items include bratwurst, fish tacos, and lamb stew.

This December, The Garden will host its first-ever “Winterfest” on Sunday, December 8 from 12-4 p.m. The free event will feature new beer releases and menu items, as well as a gingerbread cookie decorating activity for kids.

The Garden is open Sunday through Friday from 11 a.m.-10 p.m., and on Saturday from 9 a.m.-10 p.m.

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Alexandria’s latest cupcake bakery will celebrate its successful opening with a party this weekend.

On Saturday, November 16 from 12-2:30 p.m., guests are invited to Smallcakes Cupcakery and Creamery (1506 Mount Vernon Avenue) for free mini cupcakes, face painting, and more.

The national chain opened its Del Ray location a month ago, focusing on cupcakes, ice cream, and rotating seasonal flavors.

“A few years ago I was figuring out what I wanted to do,” said franchise owner Breanna Perez.

“Then I realized love baking, I always have, and I love the Smallcakes menu. They allow you to design your own store and get creative with the menu, so this shop really feels my own,” Perez said.

Smallcakes stores ordinarily feature 18 cupcake flavors each day, but Perez scaled down and focused instead on baking high-quality, creative cupcakes.

In addition to several staple flavors, every day of the week the bakery features a different seasonal option. On Wednesday, for example, Perez bakes an Oatmeal Creme Pie cupcake, and on Thursday will bake a Vanilla Berry Cheesecake and Banana Snickerdoodle.

Smallcakes also features ten different flavors of scratch-made ice cream. There are classics such as vanilla and cookies and cream, along with twists on cupcake flavors with pieces of cake and icing swirled in.

Smallcakes founder Jeff Martin is expected to be present during Saturday’s grand opening celebration. Martin competed several times on the Food Network series “Cupcake Wars,” and has expanded Smallcakes to over 50 locations nationwide.

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This Veterans Day, the Friends of Rocky Versace are holding their annual memorial for the MIA local Medal of Honor winner Rocky Versace and other Alexandria Veterans.

Versace’s unit was ambushed, but he was able to provide covering fire to allow other to escape. When he was held prisoner, Versace resisted interrogation efforts. The North Vietnamese Liberation Radio announced Versace’s execution on Sept. 26, 1965. His remains were never recovered.

The ceremony is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 11, at the Mount Vernon Recreation Center (2701 Commonwealth Avenue).

This year, retired Major General James Jackson is scheduled to be in attendance as part of a memorial celebrating the 50th anniversary of the end of the war.

“He’s going to speak and going to make a presentation to veterans in the audience who have not already received the Department of Defense Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin,” Kevin Rue, a member of the Friends of Rocky Versace, said. “The qualifying period is service in US armed forces from Nov. 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975.”

The veteran doesn’t have to have served in Southeast Asia, so long as they were in the military during that timeframe. No paperwork is required, Rue said Jackson will take people at their word on their service.

Rue said a few veterans he spoke with recently at an event said they didn’t know about the lapel pin, and hoped that more who qualified to receive them would show up at the ceremony.

Rue said Jackson will also be available to give out certificates of honor to Gold Star families.

The event is also scheduled to feature a performance from the Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corp — complete with Revolutionary War period uniforms — and the Alexandria Harmonizers.

The Friends of Rocky Versace gather at least twice a year, on Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day, to commemorate Versace and other Alexandrians who died in various American wars.

“It’s important to have heroes,” Rue said. “This country has to have heroes; those who live up to challenges, who will defend the country when the country requires defense.”

Photo via Friends of Rocky Versace/Facebook

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Perk your ears up: Ease Yoga and Cafe is partnering with Tripple Springs Farm to bring Bunny Meditation to Del Ray on Sunday (Nov. 3).

From 12:30-1:15 p.m. at 3051 Mount Vernon Avenue, a “fluffle” of lionhead rabbits from Tripple Springs Farm in Maryland is scheduled to make an appearance and play around during a guided meditation.

The yoga session is scheduled to be followed with bunny snuggling and bunny selfies.

Space for the event is limited and $30 tickets can be bought in advance.

Attendees should bring their own yoga mat. Children over ten are welcome if accompanied by an adult.

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Smallcakes Cupcakery and Creamery is coming to a house in Del Ray.

The national chain is opening a new location at 1506 Mount Vernon Avenue, immediately next door to Junction Bakery and Bistro. Prior to being a cupcakery, the location was Cloud 9 Therapeutic Skin Care, which has since moved up the street to 2101 Mount Vernon Avenue.

As the name suggests, Smallcakes focuses on cupcakes and ice cream.

Staff at another location said the bakery is expected to open sometime over the next few days or the middle of next week at the latest.

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From plain bagels with cream cheese to sesame tahini with pomegranate molasses and za’atar, the new Bagel Uprising in Del Ray has something for every bagel lover.

The new location at 2307A Mount Vernon Avenue is now open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends, though the website notes the restaurant could close early on weekends if it sells out of bagels.

The bagel shop started its life as a stand at the Four Mile Run Farmers and Artisans Market in September 2015, then briefly as a vendor inside Snackbar in Alexandria. Now, owner Chad Breckinridge is teaming up with Nicole Jones, owner and chef of renowned Southern eatery Stomping Ground next door, to operate the standalone shop.

Despite the array of ingredients on the menu to add to the bagels — from avocado spread to pickled radish to Scottish-style gravlax — the website notes that the bagels themselves stick with the classics: everything, sesame, poppy, salt and plain. The bagels are $1.75 alone, $10 for a half dozen, or $20 for a baker’s dozen. Cream cheese toppings range from $1.50 to $2 with most fish additions costing $4.

In addition to the option of building one’s own sandwich, the store also offers a half dozen special sandwiches for $7-$10.

It was all hands on deck for the opening last Wednesday (Sept. 25), with Jones saying the store was still looking for more hires. Andy and Emily Brown, the cousins operating Andy’s Pizza in Tysons Galleria next to another Stomping Ground location, were also working at the shop helping to set up equipment.

Bagel Uprising replaces the former Happy Tart bakery, which closed suddenly in January, leaving a dearth of baked goods in Del Ray. Happy Tart’s location in Falls Church remains open.

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