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Hungry? The fine dining experience continues at 1799 Prime Steak & Seafood, which opened last month in the old Restaurant Eve location at 110 S. Pitt Street in Old Town.

Founders Jahmond Quander and Chef Sonny Tena say that their menu is straightforward — fine American steakhouse fare with some French and Asian fusions. Lunch costs about $50 for two, and dinner can cost upward of $100 without drinks.

“Eighty percent of the customers who come in order the steak,” Tena said. “The menu is straightforward and the quality is top-of-the-line.”

Quander bought the building, which is also home to the Alexandria Times newspaper, for $4.4 million in February. A native of the Alexandria portion of Fairfax County, He’s worked his way up in the restaurant industry for more than 30 years, working his way up from his first job as a dishwasher at a restaurant in Springfield Mall.

Quander can trace his family roots back 350 years, and to where his ancestors were once slaves at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate. The year 1799 is the year that Washington died and freed his slaves in his will. Quander was also the former director of food and beverage operations at George Washington’s Mount Vernon from 2013 to 2016.

“The proximity of 1799 to George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the ports of Alexandria, where my ancestors arrived as slaves right here, it was only fitting that the flagship location, the first location that we open up is here in Old Town, and that the name be 1799,” Quander said. “We don’t consider ourselves fine dining. I say we’re polished casual, because we’re not pretentious. We value people, and we value the business that comes in here. This is a incredible community that has embraced us from day one when we opened up. We are incredibly appreciative of that.”

After an interior renovation, the restaurant opened in August, and now features the muted landscape paintings of Del Ray artist Jim Halloran in the Peacock Lounge, the George Washington room, the Charles room (named after Quander’s grandfather) and the Elizabeth room (named after his wife and daughter).

Before buying the building, Quander was the general manager at Blackwall Hitch on the waterfront. That’s where he met Tena, who was the executive chef at the restaurant for five years.

The pair say that their brand can go places, and that their 85 staffers have been trained intensely to perform consistently.

“This brand has legs,” Quander said. “We plan to grow the concept. We want to go into the right market, and want to make sure that the opportunity is right. One of the markets we’re looking at right now is the University of Maryland’s Prince George’s Hospital Center. We’re also considering Richmond, possibly Loudoun County, and at some point possibly Charlotte, North Carolina or even Florida. I told chef we’re gonna be retiring in Florida.”

Tena, a native of the Philippines, has been in the industry for the 25 years. He started work on cruise lines and then moved to the U.S. after the 9/11 attacks and anthrax attacks crushed the cruise industry.

Quander says he wants to get better signage to attract customers on King Street, and to make inroads with nearby hoteliers.

“It’s all about relationship building,” he said. “And making sure you know that when these lovely folks with checking in, the hotels are saying, ‘There’s a great restaurant right on our backyard. Check it out.'”

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Alicia Valencia Erb just consigned herself to a new business venture in Old Town.

After a career in marketing, the Alexandria resident opened Vida Style, a new consignment boutique at 210 N. Lee Street on August 1, and held a grand opening last Sunday (August 28). Erb gives consigners 50-to-60% of the profits and 60 to 90 days to sell items before they are returned.

“There are things in the back of your closet that have not seen the light of day in a while,” Erb told ALXnow. “Let me help you with that decluttering problem and give life a second life to these clothes. We’ll see if it goes with Vita Style, if it’s on-brand here. If it’s something that my customers will shop for, I’ll take it on consignment for 60 days.”

Until June, Erb spent five years as vice president of member relations at the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors. Before that she was an engagement strategist for more than a decade with the Credit Union National Association, and altogether worked 20 years with various associations.

While she attended the University of Maryland, she also spent two years as a hotline operator for the America’s Most Wanted television show, where says she helped track the whereabouts of Andrew Cunanan, the killer of Gianni Versace.

“I actually helped to capture Andrew Cunanan, who killed Gianni Versace,” Erb said. “There were very, very good tips that I got on Andrew Cunanan sightings when he was making his way from Chicago, Illinois, and on down to Florida.”

Twenty-five years later, Erb says that the pandemic shifted her professional focus. Working from home, she started researching other businesses to get into, even looking as far as alpaca farming before settling on opening a consignment shop. She even got a part-time job at local consignment shop in Old Town for nine months to get a handle on the business.

“I’ve never worked harder in my life,” she said. “I’m not frantic, nervous or anxious. It’s just one step at a time, and it gives me joy to do something for myself.”

Erb says that blazers are trending, as office attire has become flexible over the last couple years. Popular discounted brands at the small shop include Prada, Neiman Marcus and Banana Republic.

“Blazers are really hot right now,” she said. “Traditional fall sweaters and blazers are really popular.”

Erb brings a personal touch to the business.

“I engage with everyone who walks in.,” she said. “I’ve had exchanges of tears at the register just because I share my story and customers share their story. I make friendships wherever I am. I love doing that.”

Via Facebook

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Victory Center in Alexandria used as a vaccine clinic (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

This week in Alexandria, some long-planned changes around town started to take shape.

The biggest is that the Victory Center’s days may well be numbered, with developer Stonebridge and city staff currently in back-and-forth discussions over whether the building should be entirely demolished or not.

Just today, the city announced the pricing structure planned for pay-by-phone parking in Old Town, meaning street parking could soon become more expensive while garages will get cheaper.

Top stories

  1. Stonebridge submits plans for Victory Center demolition and redevelopment
  2. Suspects chased by police, ditch stolen car in Old Town
  3. Alexandria rolls out speed camera plans ahead of implementation next year
  4. Spicy chicken chain Hangry Joe’s opens in Alexandria Commons
  5. No arrests after commercial robbery across street from City Hall in Old Town
  6. Two more Covid deaths in Alexandria, cases surpass 40,000
  7. What is cut-through traffic and how does your phone help Alexandria track it?
  8. Alexandria rolls out new design for bus stops
  9. These restaurants, salons and other businesses are for sale in Alexandria
  10. The Torpedo Factory Art Center needs volunteers, and so do a lot of organizations in Alexandria
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It’s not the wine talking. Wine Gallery 108 — located at 108 N. Patrick Street — will move  to its new location a few blocks away at 108 N. St. Asaph Street within the next couple of weeks.

Wine shop owner Lisa Katic bought the 2,688 square-foot building at 106-108 N. St. Asaph Street for $1.45 million in June, and says that the address is a coincidence.

“It’s the same address, which is insane,” Katic told ALXnow. “Some people are saying, ‘How did she do that?’ I don’t have that kind of power. Somebody else has that kind of power. It just happened that way. The divine universe wanted us to be there.”

The N. St. Asaph Street location has two floors, and is the former home of the TSALT women’s clothing store. The bottom floor will be the retail operation, and the second floor will be an event space where Katic will host wine tastings and art shows. Katic is an abstract painter and wants more room to showcase her creative work, as well as the work of local artists.

Katic opened Wine Gallery 108 five years ago, but was limited by the 1,000 square-foot space. She says sales increased exponentially during the pandemic, and that the last two-and-a-half years have been a period of grueling growth. She laid off some staff and worked the entire time behind the counter, she said.

“It was a pretty nutty time,” Katic said. “I had cases of wine everywhere. It was a blur, like you blinked and two years was gone.”

Katic wants to reopen in the new space by the end of August, or early September.

“I think it’s an opportunity to bring really great well-made wine to more people,” she said. “The goal is to really make it very much a part of the Old Town community.”

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A new coffee/bubble tea shop is being planned for 411 Cameron Street in Old Town, according to a special use permit (SUP) filed with the city.

The location was previously home to antique store Time Juggler.

The owners of the 595-square-foot shop are listed as My Huynh and Randal Phillips.

The SUP says that the business would be open seven days a week, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and serve coffee, non-alcoholic drinks and gelato.

Calls to the owners were not returned.

Via Google Maps

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A conceptual rendering of The Waypoint at Fairlington (Image via Wesley Housing)

Updated 8/5 — The Feathers Bilingual Academy is opening at the Fairlington Presbyterian Church at the same site, not at The Waypoint at Fairlington

A new daycare center called Feathers Bilingual Academy has submitted an application to open at Fairlington Presbyterian Church (3846 King Street) near The Waypoint at Fairlington, a new 81-unit affordable housing development set to open this fall.

The application said the center focuses on early education for children ages 16 months to 5 years old.

Feathers Bilingual Academy will have a capacity for 52 children with approximately eight teachers. There have already been some job postings for positions like pre-school teacher and bilingual toddler lead teacher.

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Metal Supermarkets (image via Metal Supermarkets Alexandria/Facebook)

A new metal shop opening just outside the city means Tiki Bar patrons won’t be the only things getting hammered by the end of the month.

While Metal Supermarkets is technically opening just beyond Alexandria proper’s borders, like the cannabis dispensary before it, it’s interesting enough to be worth ‘steeling’ from FFXnow.

Metal Supermarkets is exactly what it says on the tin: a one-stop shop for all metal needs for professionals ‘ore’ hobbyists.

“Metal Supermarkets stores specialize in the sales and distribution of all types and ranges of metal,” the shop said in a press release, “including hot and cold rolled, aluminum copper, brass and stainless in bars, tubes, angles, channel, sheet and plate to meet the needs of a wide and diverse variety of customers that require these essential products.”

The release said Metal Supermarkets aims to be an ironclad metals supplier for local manufacturers, machinists, maintenance and repair shops and more.

The new shop is scheduled to open at 6460 General Green Way on Monday, Aug. 29. The store will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The new Fairfax location is the fourth Metal Supermarkets in Alexandria.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to open a second Metal Supermarkets location,” Theresa Lora, owner of Metal Supermarkets Alexandria, said in the release. “The pandemic made running our first Metal Supermarkets store in Beltsville, Maryland a little challenging, but we had a great staff that helped make things easier. Now, we have an incredible staff at the Alexandria location that will provide the same tremendous support to area businesses and the Alexandria community.”

Image via Metal Supermarkets/Facebook

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Saltbox cowarehousing space (image via Saltbox/Instagram)

Alexandria has seen a rise in coworking, increased interest in coliving, and now: co-warehousing.

Saltbox, a warehouse company that describes itself in a press release as a “small business logistics pioneer”, announced a new co-warehousing location opening on Eisenhower Avenue. Saltbox filed paperwork for the location last year, but a representative of the company said the Alexandria location is starting tours this week and officially opens in August.

Office and warehouse space starts at $630 per month, according to the website.

“Located at 4700 Eisenhower Ave, Saltbox DC Alexandria offers over 45,000 SF space including 85 flexible warehouse and office suites,” the company said in the release. “The new location includes conference rooms, flexible office space, access to loading docks and a top-of-the-line photo studio for entrepreneurs.”

The new co-warehouse is a couple of blocks east of the Victory Center in a cluster of office parks. In the release, Saltbox said the new location is (optimistically) 20 minutes from Washington D.C. and is a little under a mile from the Van Dorn Metro station.

The website describes the co-warehousing arrangement as a flexible set of private warehouse suites and office spaces, as well as assisting with the logistics of shipping items.

“Expanding our footprint into the Washington, D.C. metro area has been our top priority, given it serves as the region’s central hub for growing e-commerce, tech and consumer companies,” said Saltbox CEO and Co-Founder Tyler Scriven. “Alexandria is an important strategic node for the Saltbox network. We strive to eliminate the pains of logistics and shipping with our offering, and look forward to continuing to help our members grow their businesses.”

Image via Saltbox/Instagram

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Andy’s Pizza (image courtesy Emily Brown)

A new special use permit shows that regional pizza chain Andy’s Pizza could be coming to the former Meggrolls space (107 North Fayette Street) in Old Town.

The local pizza chain made waves last year after winning the top prize for New York-style pizza in the International Pizza Challenge.

“Andy’s Pizza is rumored to be coming soon to Old Town Alexandria,” eponymous owner Andy Brown said in an email. “Best known for winning the World Pizza Championship in the traditional category, Andy’s serves classic and crispy 18″ Ny Style pizza by the slice.”

The Alexandria pizzeria will be the sixth Andy’s Pizza location, with others throughout the area including one in Tysons Galleria.

Beyond just pizza, Andy’s Pizza has also built a local brew-enthusiast following for a specialized beer menu.

“Andy’s features a casual and lively bar scene with a focus on craft beer and cocktails to pair with pizza on a paper plate,” Brown said.

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Inventory at a West End consignment shop (image via Evolution Home/Facebook)

A vintage market is celebrating its reopening this weekend in the Landmark neighborhood (861 S. Pickett Street) with a week of door prizes and refreshments.

Evolution Home is a consignment shop that moved into the Landmark neighborhood earlier this year but has been at various locations around Alexandria since 1999.

“Evolution Home’s Grand Reopening at 861 S. Pickett St. in Alexandria’s West End is the next step upward for the small business,” the shop said in a release. “Part vintage market, part antique mall, and part home goods consigner, Evolution Home is proud to build on 23 years of bringing Northern Virginia customers one-of-a-kind furniture, décor, and gifts.”

The grand reopening event will run from Saturday, June 18, to Friday, June 24, and will feature refreshments, door prizes and a prize wheel while supplies last.

“As our customers and sales have grown, so has our need for space,” owner Susan Driscoll said in the release. “This is our fourth move in 23 years, each move to a larger and better space.”

Image via Evolution Home/Facebook

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