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Morning Notes

River Farm gets taken off the market — “Local residents cheered over email and text messages Wednesday after learning that the American Horticultural Society’s board — or what remained of it — decided not to sell its 27-acre property overlooking the Potomac River.” [Alexandria Living]

Northern Virginia AFL-CIO presents award to Rep. Don Beyer — “When the bus drivers in Alexandria – the DASH workers (who had been trying to unionize over decades, actually), Alexandria City hired a union buster and Congressman Beyer stepped in and was very forceful with his language in making the city aware that the DASH workers had a right to organize.” [Zebra]

Let’s Meat On The Avenue is restocked again after Saturday outage — “It wasn’t just restaurants impacted by Saturday’s #ArtOnTheAvenue outage. After having to toss much of their inventory, @LetsmeatDelRay is restocked and open! Picked up some beautiful pork chops for dinner. What’s your #artontheavenueafterparty stop today?” [Twitter]

Free food pop-up distribution points announced — “ALIVE! provides bags of food for specific neighborhoods or apartments, in collaboration with community partners, in the parking lot at each pop-up emergency food distribution location.” [City of Alexandria]

Today’s weather — “Mostly cloudy skies. High 77F. Winds E at 5 to 10 mph… A few clouds. Low 63F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Lot attendant/Porter — “We have full and part time positions available.” [Indeed]

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How do you know you’re in Del Ray? Visitors can wonder no longer, as a new 15-foot-tall marker will be unveiled later this month at Pat Miller Neighborhood Square.

The marker was designed by Maryland artist Kirk Seese, has been in the works since 2018. It was open to the public for last Saturday’s Art On The Avenue festival, and the tentative date for its official unveiling is October 15, according to Visit Del Ray.

“I am so excited by the recent installation of the beautiful art piece at Pat Miller Square,” Del Ray Business Association Board member Gayle Todsen Reuter told ALXnow.” This comes after years of planning and work and provides a wonderful focal point for the community.”

The project cost $10,000, which was donated by Ray Mahmood when development of Port Barrel BBQ and Holy Cow Del Ray was approved for construction on his property by City Council.

The square was named after Pat Miller, an Alexandria Living Legend. Situated in the heart of Del Ray, it hosts weekly farmers’ markets, and is home to the Del Ray Christmas Tree and Del Ray Music Festival performers.

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A man driving a Nissan Sentra with D.C. plates crashed into a light pole on Mount Vernon Avenue in Arlandria early Monday morning (October 4).

The incident occurred after 1 a.m. just outside of Casa Chirilagua at 4901 Mount Vernon Avenue. The crash smashed the Sentra’s windshield and caused its front and side airbags to deploy.

An ambulance arrived at the scene and the driver walked out unscathed. He was given a field sobriety test and arrested. The car was towed away at around 2:30 a.m. and the light pole was left on the sidewalk.

Via Google Maps

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The power went out on the busiest day of the year in Del Ray on Saturday (October 2).

An estimated 50,000 people descended on Mount Vernon Avenue for the 26th annual Art On The Avenue festival that day, but many restaurants and other businesses were forced to shut down due to the outage.

Homegrown Restaurant Group’s Pork Barrel BBQ Restaurant, The Sushi Bar, and Holy Cow Del Ray lost a combined $30,000 in sales, co-owner Bill Blackburn told ALXnow.

“It was disappointing,” Blackburn said. “It was a lot of work for nothing.”

Dominion Energy reported that the outage was due to underground switch and cable equipment failure, and eventually restored power at around 10:30 p.m. — after the event was over.

Mayor Justin Wilson says the city is now considering a “variety” of options to improve service.

“We are exploring a variety of options to improve the reliability of Alexandria’s electricity service,” Wilson said. “We continue to believe that Dominion can and should do more to build a more reliable and resilient infrastructure to serve the City.”

Wilson did not get specific on the options, and said that the City will release more information this week. During the outage, he tweeted out a strongly worded post, and said it was unacceptable that a central business district was plunged in darkness.

Blackburn said business was strong the following day, on Sunday, with support mainly coming from local customers.

“Once again, we are lucky to do business in such a great community,” he said.

The Dairy Godmother, on Facebook, said that it lost “400 kolaches and 1,500 donuts… due to the power outage.”

“We are so sorry we were closed,” the shop wrote. “We have the greatest staff in the greatest neighborhood with the worst power company (except for Texas), we will open at 9AM with Just Fine Donuts, today we have Pumpkin Cake donuts, plus all of our usual flavors of yeast and cake donuts. With luck by 10 we will have Sausage Cheese Kalaches. Custard by Noon with Pumpkin as the Flavor of the Day, Apple Crisp is the Treat of the day.”

Alexandria also sent a letter to Dominion asking them to step up their game earlier this year. There were 16 large-scale outages in 2020 affecting thousands of residents.

The following businesses lost power, according to Visit Del Ray:

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Morning Notes

New coffee shop opening in West End — “A new coffee shop will be opening in the Shoppes of Foxchase shopping center in Alexandria’s West End. Cortado Cafe is under construction now in the shopping center on Duke Street. It is taking the place of a now-closed Hair Cuttery between Massage Envy and La Casa restaurant.” [Alexandria Living]

Nonprofit teaches computer coding for free — “For over 20 years, the Alexandria nonprofit Computer CORE has helped adults learn computer technology and programming, thereby advancing their careers. The newest educational opportunity begins Tuesday, Sept. 14 with the virtual class Code Beats Computer Coding Camp. The free course will use hip hop and other music beats to teach computer coding.” [Zebra]

Alexandria to hold remembrance ceremony for 9/11 attacks — “The City invites the public to attend a remembrance ceremony Saturday, Sep 11, 10-11am, at Waterfront Park (1A Prince St.), to mark the tragic events of September 11, 2001.” [Twitter]

September is Recovery Month — “September is #RecoveryMonth and we are celebrating the gains made by those who are in recovery from mental illness and substance use disorders. Learn more and find out how you can help raise awareness of prevention and recovery options at alexandriava.gov/117342.” [Twitter]

Art on the Avenue returns to Del Ray Oct. 2 — “The event was virtual last year due to concerns about coronavirus. The popular event draws artists in more than 10 categories from food and books to sculpture, painting, bath and body products and more. In addition, attendees can enjoy music, visit the kid’s art corner and support local restaurants and businesses. In the past, the event has brought out 300 artists and 50,000 visitors. It has been named one of the best festivals in Virginia.” [Alexandria Living]

Today’s weather — “Sunny (during the day). High 79F. Winds NNW at 10 to 20 mph… Clear (in the evening). Low 58F. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Play expert — “We provide family-focused therapeutic services to children age 0-12 years old. With a focus on play-based learning, TLBC believes that language and skill development should be a positive experience for both the child and the family.” [Indeed]

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Melissa Graves calls CrossFit her medicine.

Last year, though, she was forced to shut down her brick and mortar gym, CrossFit MVA at 1712 Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray. Graves and her team of a half dozen coaches kept the ship afloat with Zoom workouts, as members who stuck it out took home weight sets and medicine balls from the gym.

“It felt like a year, but it was probably only three months that we were out of this space,” Graves told ALXnow. “Even now I’m counting every day, one day at a time until we can function somewhat like normal.”

Graves says most of her clients are vaccinated against COVID-19, and those who aren’t are asked to wear face masks during the high-intensity workouts. Those workouts include weightlifting, rowing and gymnastics, and are alternately conducted inside the gym and in an outdoor tented area in the parking lot.

“I don’t like change, and I’ve never been a person that likes change,” Graves said “Being adaptable when those big changes were thrown at me really helped me to grow as a business owner and personally.”

A former Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter, the 44-year-old Graves started was introduced to CrossFit in 2008. She opened CrossFit MVA in 2014, and is personally ranked 86th worldwide and 63rd in the U.S. for her age group.

“When I discovered CrossFit, it literally became my medicine,” she said. “I got off antidepressants, I started eating better, I slept better, my mood changed. I was just a different person, like it literally my whole life and my personality.”

Graves continued, “The pandemic was just so tough on people mentally. So having us as an outlet every day for 45 minutes was huge for them, and I’ve heard from countless members tell me that if it wasn’t for these workouts that they don’t know what they would have done.”

Graves increased the monthly fee for members by $5 to make up for the additional space needed for six-foot distancing for athletes inside the box. It costs $235 for unlimited access to the gym, $210 for three workouts per week, and $185 for two workouts per week.

Nervous about CrossFit? Don’t worry if you’re not in great shape, Graves said.

“When people show up for a trial class, they see that there’s all different kinds of people in the gym,” she said. “Some people maybe are getting ready for a triathlon, there might be someone else who’s never worked out before, maybe a mom who just decided that she wanted to start CrossFit in her 40s. We have just everyone from every walk of life, and usually when people take a trial class they feel pretty comfortable.”

Courtesy Facebook

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What an absorbing week in Alexandria.

Just as the ball gets rolling with reopening and loosened restrictions, the pandemic rears its ugly head. With coronavirus transmission levels climbing, Alexandria is once again recommending that residents go back to wearing face masks indoors.

Our weekly poll found that 37% of respondents (337 votes) don’t plan to wear masks indoors again unless required, 32% (291 votes) never stopped wearing masks and plan to continue, and 30% (275 votes) stopped wearing masks indoors and plan to start again.

In the meantime, Three Dog Night, Tanya Tucker, and more are scheduled to play at the Birchmere next month, and the Little Theatre of Alexandria has gone back to in-person performances with its latest farce, Neil Simon’s Rumors. The city’s annual sidewalk sale is also on track to be largest ever, with participation from more than 70 local boutiques on the pedestrian-only blocks between 700 and 1100 King Street.

Turning toward the Olympics, Alexandria boxer Troy Isley won his first contest earlier this week, but lost his second match in a close split decision on Thursday night. Next week, Alexandria City High School will host a watch party for alumnus star sprinter Noah Lyles, who is the favorite to win the gold medal in the 200 meter race.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Alexandria car dealership receptionist busted for alleged credit card fraud
  2. One year of lane closures in Potomac Yard starts today
  3. Man arrested after armed carjacking in West End
  4. BREAKING: Potomac Yard Metro opening pushed back to September 2022
  5. New Potomac Yard luxury condo community sells 30% of properties before construction starts
  6. Residents protest against conditions at West End apartment complex
  7. Local Democrat challenges Rep. Don Beyer in 8th District Primary
  8. Cigar and vape shop to open on Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray
  9. EXCLUSIVE: Halal slaughterhouse opens, gives away free chickens for first two days in business
  10. Without School Resource Officers, Superintendent wants more private security inside and police patrolling outside
  11. Poll: Do you plan on wearing a mask indoors again?

Have a safe weekend!

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A cigar and vape business is headed for 2104 Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray, but its ownership is clouded in mystery.

A new sign reading Del Ray Cigars & Vapes has been erected out front, and on the second floor of the 1902-era home reads the banner, “Coming soon.” The front windows have been boarded up, and a peek through the front glass door revealed that the interior has been completely gutted.

“It’s very surprising for someone to start business on The Avenue and for people to be asking, ‘What’s going on?'” said Del Ray resident Gayle Reuter.

Reuter continued, “As someone whose mother died from lung cancer after years of smoking, I am personally disappointed to see that a Cigar and Vape Store is opening up in Del Ray. While I am sure they meet whatever city permits are required, I’m sorry to see this prime retail location not used for what I feel would be a purpose more beneficial to the community.”

No ownership or contact information has been posted on the property, and there are no social media accounts or a website set up for the new business. A search of property records with the city shows that Ibrahim Gheyaszada of Ashburn bought the property in May, and no calls to his listed numbers have been returned.

There is no indication of when the business will open, although it joins a number of nearby vape shops, including Avail Vapor at Potomac Yard and the Tobacco King & Vape King Cigar and Hookah.

The building was most recently home to the Counseling & Empowerment Center, which is now treating clients in an online-only format.

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Morning Notes

Del Ray Italian restaurant to close — “Rosemarino D’Italia will close its doors after Wednesday, July 28 at its Alexandria location in Del Ray, after serving up Italian cuisine to its customers for the past eight years there, according to manager Edward Camacho.” [Alexandria Living]

Work starts on new Athleta store in Old Town — “Construction has started on the former La Tasca restaurant on King Street as the building owners make space for a store for Gap, Inc. athletic brand Athleta.” [Alexandria Living]

Harry Potter birthday tours this Saturday at Apothecary Museum — “In honor of Harry’s birthday, the Apothecary Museum is offering a special tour for families (and adults who missed their Hogwarts’ letter) that will explore the old Apothecary and the historic muggle medicines that inspired the Herbology and Potions of Harry’s wizarding world. Tours are every 30 minutes from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Recommended for fans ages 8 and older.” [City of Alexandria]

Today’s weather — “A mix of clouds and sun in the morning followed by cloudy skies during the afternoon. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 91F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph… Some clouds early will give way to generally clear conditions overnight. Low 71F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Temporary enrichment and fitness instructor — “In pursuit of service excellence the Enrichment and Fitness Instructor provides youth, adult, and senior leisure classes at various recreation centers through the City of Alexandria. In this role, you will have the opportunity to ensure that the goals are met to provide a safe, fun, structured and engaging atmosphere for all our customers.” [Indeed]

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What an unexpectedly busy summer week in Alexandria. Here’s the rundown.

Our top story was on an Alexandria woman who claims she was roofied at a restaurant on the waterfront on the evening of July 9. A police report has been filed, and no charges have been made.

This week we sat down with acting Police Chief Don Hayes, who said that he’s thrown his hat in the ring with City Manager Mark Jinks to keep the top job. Hayes, a 40-year veteran of the Alexandria Police Department took over after the sudden departure of Chief Michael Brown last month, and will have to contend against candidates in a national search.

The Tokyo Olympics also start this week, and the games will include three T.C. Williams High School graduates — sprinter Noah Lyles, high-jumper Tynita Butts-Townsend and boxer Troy Isley. In fact, Lyles just had a comic book biography published in the Washington Post. If you’re a fan of the Olympic games, check out this list of local restaurants celebrating with special events and meals.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Woman claims she was roofied at Old Town restaurant
  2. Residents protest against conditions at West End apartment complex
  3. Developers eye Beauregard redevelopment with West End upgrades on the horizon
  4. Former chef at ‘The Alexandrian’ opening new restaurant in Arlandria on Monday
  5. No injuries after shots fired in Braddock area on Wednesday
  6. DASH takes lessons from D.C., Baltimore and Oregon in eliminating bus fares
  7. ‘Call Your Mother Deli’ signs lease in Old Town
  8. After last month’s Democratic primary, Republican Darryl Nirenberg tops campaign donation leaderboard
  9. New city health improvement plan aims to fix inequities
  10. Poll: Have you been to the Winkler Botanical Preserve?
  11. Lee-Fendall House to throw speakeasy party to finance building repairs

Have a safe weekend!

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