Newsletter

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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Karin Purugganan still can’t believe it. It’s been two months since she started her own family counseling firm in Del Ray, and she’s completely booked with kids and families.

“When you look at your family, is it functioning the way you want?” Purugganan said. “If it’s not, how can we change that? If there’s friction between two family members, how are we addressing that?”

Purugganan, an Alexandria native and T.C. Williams High School graduate, opened wonderologie counseling and wellness at 2312 Mt. Vernon Avenue in May, and now has 19 clients. That’s enough to keep her busy until the fall, she says.

“This pandemic opened parents’ eyes to mental health concerns with their kids,” she said. “A couple of my clients actually did great. The social isolation was perfect for them and they needed a break from school. For the majority of my other clients it’s been really really stressful, and my caseload is full and everyone I refer to is full.”

Mental health issues have risen nationwide due to the pandemic, with adults and children reporting adverse mental health, substance use and other effects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Purugganan also has five kids, and completely left her life as a respiratory therapist after her husband Alex had a heart attack a few years ago. She ended up going back to school and getting a degree in educational psychology from the University of Virginia and a graduate degree in education and human development from the George Washington University.

“It made us realize we had been ships passing in the night,” Purugganan said. “This doesn’t even feel like work now, because I enjoy it so much. I used to work nights and he would work days to make extra money. We were just really burning the candle at both ends, and it made us realize it wasn’t sustainable.”

Purugganan uses a lot of toys and games to interact with her clients.

“You will see a lot of toys in my office,” she said. “It can be really tricky for me to try to figure out how to give them all the tools they need to be as cohesive as possible and happy.”

Courtesy wonderologie

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Rodrigo Ferman, a former chef at the The Alexandrian hotel in Old Town, is opening “Ferman Bar and Grill” in Arlandria on Monday, July 19.

Ferman, who cooked at The Alexandrian and Hotel Monaco for 15 years, spent the last three months renovating the interior of 4112 Mount Vernon Avenue. The space was formerly occupied by Chirilagua Pollo & Steak, and the overhaul includes new flooring, the installation of three new booths and an extended counter.

“To cook good food you need passion, and if you do things with passion they work out,” Ferman said. “It’s going to be a happy, exciting place.”

Ferman has applied for a beer and wine license and plans on serving Latin American cuisine with high-end American breakfasts and brunches on the weekends. Rotisserie Peruvian chicken and fajitas with all the fixings are still on the menu, and entrees will range between $10 and $15, he said.

Ferman and his wife lost their jobs last year, and got a third piece of shocking news — they were going to have a baby. Now, with a 15-month-old daughter, he says the time is now to open his first restaurant. He’s also working on a website for the business, as well as linking up with Uber Eats, Grubhub and DoorDash.

“I’m really good,” he said. “People will come to this shopping center just to eat at Ferman Bar and Grill.”

The restaurant will be open for breakfast at 6 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. every Sunday to Wednesday, and from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday to Saturday.

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A 59-year-old Alexandria man has been arrested nearly five months after DNA evidence linked him to a robbery at a 7-Eleven convenience store in Del Ray.

Alexandria Police responded to a commercial alarm at the convenience store at 2108 Mount Vernon Avenue at around 3:15 a.m. on Friday, January 22.

“When they arrived, they discovered that the front glass door of the business had been shattered and a significant amount of substance, believed to be blood, was found on the glass near the break point,” police said in a search warrant affidavit.

Security video found the suspect threw a projectile at the door, and then attempted to enter the business starting with his left leg, “as he attempted to enlarge the opening with his body weight,” police said.

Blood evidence was collected and sent to the Virginia Department of Forensic Science.

The results came back on May 10, identifying Stanley Rivers as the suspect. An old booking photo with the Sheriff’s Office also found that Rivers matched the suspect description, according to police.

Rivers was booked for a number of offenses on June 16, including burglary, assaulting law enforcement, resisting arrest, property destruction and stealing two credit card numbers. He goes to court later this month.

Courtesy Google Maps

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Virginia State Police briefly chased a suspect driving a white U-Haul pickup along Mount Vernon Avenue in Arlandria. The suspect was chased from Arlington and into Alexandria before turning onto West Glebe Road and taking out a road sign at around 4:15 p.m.

The U-Haul truck drove on the wrong way of the street on West Glebe Road, and nearly struck a VSP cruiser. The suspect veered out of the way and struck a road sign, which was knocked into the middle of the street, and has since been cleared away.

“His vehicle got damaged,” the investigating officer said via dispatch. “Pretty heavy damage… His vehicle nearly struck my cruiser.”

The truck was then involved in a crash with two trucks on northbound 395 on the 14th Street Bridge as it drove into D.C.

Alexandria Police were not notified of the incident and are not coordinating with VSP. ALXnow has also reached out to VSP for an update.

Photo via ARLnow/Twitter

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Morning Notes

Alexandria Black History Museum director speaks on anniversary of George Floyd’s murder — “Yes, there have been changes – Diversity and inclusion training are being taught in universities and the American workplace, some racists are being held accountable, corporations have promised new more transparent hiring procedures that would add African Americans to leadership positions, TV shows and advertisers have hired people of color in record numbers and The Oscars are not quite so #OscarsSoWhite anymore. All of this is meaningful, but it must be more than a quick fix. Everyone needs an ally, but being a true ally goes deeper than the protests. To be a real ally, you need to be there for the hard work, the messy work, and the unpleasant conversations about race and racism. You need to turn the mirror inward and make the personal changes that will help make your community a better place.” [Zebra]

Local chef appearing on FOX baking competition tonight — “Erinn Roth still can’t believe she was chosen to compete on FOX’s new baking competition show. ‘Crime Scene Kitchen’ premieres this Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET… The contestants are allowed to explore a kitchen that was recently used to bake a specific treat. They must use their baking skills and the clues left behind to determine what was baked and then they have two hours to recreate what they think it was. At the end of each episode, after two rounds, a team is eliminated.” [Alexandria Living]

Roy Rogers to reopen year and a half after Belle View Shopping Center fire — “The Roy Rogers in the Belle View Shopping Center will celebrate its long-awaited grand re-opening on June 1, the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce announced. Located at 1506 Belle View Blvd., the restaurant closed in October 2019 following a devastating multi-alarm fire that spread along the roofline of the shopping center. An investigation by the Fairfax County Fire Marshal’s office determined that fire began in a walk-in cooler at Yido Ramen and Sushi, which had opened just days before. [Alexandria Living]

Old Hat Bar opening delayed in Old Town by staffing challenges — “Residents eager to see Old Hat Bar open its doors in Old Town Alexandria will have to wait a little longer. The gastropub was set to open Friday, May 21 at 112 N. Saint Asaph Street, the former location of King Street Blues. But like other businesses in the food service industry, Old Hat Bar faces staffing challenges.” [Patch]

City to Host Town Hall on Anti-Asian Violence — The City of Alexandria invites the public to attend a virtual Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month Town Hall, “Contextualizing Anti-Asian Violence in the Age of COVID,” on Thursday, May 27, at 7 p.m. The virtual panel discussion focuses on the wave of racial incidents and attacks directed toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The panel features Elisabeth Chan, Sue Jean Cho, John Min, and Alexander Purrugganan,  faculty members of Northern Virginia Community College. Their presentation will be followed by an interactive question and answer session. The presentation is free, but attendees must register.” [City of Alexandria]

PHOTOS: Alexandria Fire Department train on the Potomac River — “Yesterday, some of our first responders participated in swift water boat operator training. #traineveryday #stayready” [Twitter]

Today’s weather — “Partly cloudy in the morning followed by scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon. Gusty winds and small hail are possible. High 93F. Winds SW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%… Scattered thunderstorms in the evening. Partly cloudy skies overnight. Low 68F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%.” [Weather.com]

New job: Crew at AMC Theatres — “AMC amazing. That’s the promise we deliver to nearly 35,000 associates, 240 million guests domestically, and 350 million guests worldwide each year. AMC has propelled industry innovation since 1920, and we continue to innovate by delivering premium sight and sound, new and improved food and beverage options, and diverse content in our state-of-the-art theatres.” [Indeed]

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An Alexandria man and woman suspected of stealing clothes from Del Ray vintage shop La Brocante were chased and tracked down by locals before being arrested on Saturday evening.

The 59-year-old man and a 51-year-old woman were arrested and charged with petit larceny-shoplifting after getting their location from witnesses on what was otherwise a beautiful night along Mount Vernon Avenue.

At around 6:30 p.m. on April 10, the female suspect walked in and asked shop owner Alex Holden for help finding clothes for her baby granddaughter. Just a moment before, one of Holden’s employees was alarmed when the woman reportedly said that didn’t know whether she had a granddaughter or a grandson.

Then, a bystander ran into the shop and announced that the male suspect was running off with armfuls of children’s clothes.

Holden ran outside and saw the suspect allegedly walking quickly a block away with the clothes. That’s when she and a number of residents and  outdoor diners started to shout, “Stop that man!”

A chase ensued for more than a half hour as the suspect was pursued over fences and through neighborhoods, and even a man on an electric scooter. Holden eventually got into her car and tracked the suspect down. She drove alongside him as he ran, she said.

“He was running and I pulled even with him in my car,” Holden told ALXnow. “I yelled, ‘Give me my clothes! I’ve been working since 7 a.m. and I’m still at work!’ and you’ll never believe what he yelled back. He goes, ‘No way! This is what I do.’ That’s when I hit the gas and cut him off by blocking his path next to a fence. And you know what he did? He jumped the fence holding all those clothes. The guy was like a gazelle. I swear to God, and he was not a young man.”

Holden and a number of other Del Ray residents chased after the suspect, and, when he was cornered, he allegedly turned around and threw all of the stolen clothing, hangars included, in the air before taking off again. Police eventually caught up with the suspect after witnesses provided them with his location. The woman who was charged with him is suspected of acting as a diversion, and was followed to her car by residents who wrote down her license plate number.

“I went back to the store and people were sitting outside eating their dinner (on Mount Vernon Avenue) and clapping,” Holden said. “It was like dinner and a show for everyone eating out and watching us. It was wild.”

Holden wanted to thank the community for helping her.

The Del Ray community is not going to put up with this,” she said. “I mean, people were on their balconies shouting, folks were jumping fences. It was hilarious.”

Map via Google Maps

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