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Bethesda-based Fresh Baguette is opening in Old Town on Tuesday (March 1). The first 20 customers in the door will also get free croissants for a year.

The bakery at 1101 King Street joins the companies locations in Maryland and Georgetown — all part of an expansion plan that will see a number of the bakeries popping up around the region.

“We need to pass inspections, but we’re confident that we will open at the end of January or beginning of February, Fresh Baguette’s Retail Manager Jérémy Touchard told ALXnow. “We want to open more locations. In 2022, we will open in Alexandria and we are looking for another location to open in Northern Virginia. We also plan to open a few more locations in 2023.”

All proceeds from the opening will go to Carpenter’s Shelter.

“Come by and get a Free Baguette and purchase a Fresh Baguette Sampler for $3 and all proceeds go to Carpenter’s Shelter,” Fresh Baguette said on social media. ” We are very excited to bring our modern French Bakery to Old Town.”

The first 20 customers in the door will get free croissants for a year (one a week for 52 weeks), and eligible customers will need to be 18. There can only be one winner per household.

Via Fresh Baguette/Facebook

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Noelie Rickey and Markos Panas have been busier than bees lately, and on Thursday (Feb. 24) their Beeliner Diner officially opened in the Bradlee Shopping Center.

The new family restaurant at 3648 King Street is the former longtime home to Atlantis Pizzeria & Restaurant, which closed early last year. Rickey, Panas and partner Dagmawi Abedje also own the Bread & Water Company bakery in the Belle View Shopping Center. They opened a Bun Papa pop-up at the King Street location in November, and the space has been expanded to include the BeeStreet Virtual Food Hall, which is a collection of pop-up concepts ALX Pizza, Boom Chicky (fried chicken) and Bun Papa.

Rickey was raised in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle, Washington, where there was the original Beeliner Diner.

“It was one of those places where you could go where they were very accepting and tolerant of everybody,” Rickey said. “I just grew up loving the place because it was pure diner food. They closed years and years ago, and I just always loved the name and I loved the vibe of the place, which was so welcoming.”

The 5,000-square-foot restaurant holds 130 seats, including 38 at the milkshake bar.

Panas said that the multiple concepts for the restaurant were the result of the pandemic, as they were forced to shut down a location at the Torpedo Factory Art Center and stop selling wholesale baked goods to local businesses. Their Bun Papa concept also expanded with a location in Capital One Arena.

“Things are moving along incredibly, and we had to scale back a lot,” Panas said. “We’re no longer doing wholesale, we’re no longer doing any farmer’s markets, and those were huge components of our business.”

Panas and Rickey opened Bread & Water Company  in 2013 in the Belle View Shopping Center, and had a serious shakeup after a six-alarm fire destroyed neighboring businesses in October 2019.

“The fire and the pandemic completely changed how we were going to do business moving forward,” Rickey said. “And now we have a full house. Everybody looks really happy, and I’m thinking maybe we’re just ready for this sort of thing at this point. Obviously the staff are wearing masks, but I think this is what people are ready for. People are ready to be together again.”

Courtesy photos

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Business has been so good at the Pedego Electric Bikes shop in Old Town that owner Todd Ketch is planning to open another location in Vienna next month. The ink is still drying on the deal, but if all goes as planned then Ketch will be opening in an industrial section of downtown Vienna.

“The pandemic was like dumping gasoline to the fire for the electric bike market,” Ketch said. “It’s not going to stop from here. How are we going to take full advantage? I’m going to open a second store in Vienna, and we’re excited.”

No official announcement has yet been made, and Ketch wants to do a soft opening in March and a grand opening in May.

There are three bike models available to buy and rent at Pedego, ranging from $1,995 to $5,495. The bikes can go up to 60 miles on a single charge (without pedaling) and travel at 20 miles per hour. One model can even be retrofitted to travel 28 miles per hour. A single rental will cost $100 for the entire day, $70 for four hours or $40 for two hours.

Ketch, who is a licensed Pedego dealer and not a franchisee, has been in business at 210 N. Lee Street since 2019. He’s a former lobbyist and government affairs executive, and Woodbridge with his wife and four kids.

Aside from the new location, Ketch is now gearing up for the busiest time of the year — The National Cherry Blossom Festival, which runs from March 20 to April 17.

“That’s when we really get our season going,” Ketch said. “We’re we’re getting ready for that, in addition to trying to get position to open the other store.”

Photo via Pedego/Facebook

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You won’t find Zoom wine tastings at Le Vintage Wine Shop.

The new shop is opening at 1218 King Street on Tuesday, and owner Benjamin Kuna says there’s something about an in-person tasting that gives the experience an extra kick.

“Nothing replaces a hands-on experience,” Kuna told ALXnow. “I did a bunch of Zoom tastings during the pandemic, and you could loop an Oregon winemaker into the call, and he could talk to you from his winery. So, that was great, but it’s not the same.”

Le Vintage features biodynamic wine without chemicals, and Kuna says it’s a misconception to think his wine is more expensive than grocery store alternatives. For instance, he carries a 2013 Scala “Briseo” Rosso that retails for less than $20.

“People can buy environmentally conscious, organic, sustainable wine that has the same price point,” Kuna said. “If you want to spend $100, I have that wine, but I also have a whole rack of 60 wines that are under $20.”

The 1,800-square-foot shop was previously home to the Acme Mid-Century + Modern furniture store, which moved online.

Kuna, a graduate of St. Stephens and St. Agnes School, was embarking on a career as a science writer when he started working as a sommelier at the La Fromagerie Cheese and Wine Bistro (1222 King Street). Kuna worked at the shop until 2014, rising to the rank of general manager, and then left for stints at a number of restaurants in the region, including Evening Star Cafe and Planet Wine in Del Ray.

“I really, really love wine,” Kuna said. “It’s the most interesting topic I’ve ever explored. It contains history and science, geography, cultural history, cultural trends. It dictates food. It actually dictated how we migrated in certain parts of the world. It just there’s so much involved with wine. It really is. This sort of microcosm of the human experience in a lot of ways.”

La Fromagerie’s owner Sebastien Tavel is a family friend, and owns 20% of Le Vintage.

“It opens up a lot of possibilities,” Kuna said. “We’re going to have a wine club at La Fromagerie called “Flight Club’, where a small group of 15-20 people will meet once a month to eat cheese and talk about wine.”

When coming up with the name, Kuna said he wanted to tap into the feeling of personal nostalgia that people get with tasting wine.

“When I’m drinking wine it evokes memories, and it’s why we love it,” he said.

Le Vintage will also host wine tastings on Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m. and on Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m. The shop is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday.

Courtesy photos

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Bonchon Chicken is coming to 3690 King Street in the Bradlee Shopping Center. (staff photo by James Cullum)

Getting hungry? A number of new restaurants are slated to open this year in Alexandria, according to the city’s tourism bureau.

Visit Alexandria highlighted many of these new businesses in their annual “What’s New in Alexandria” update, which was held Thursday morning (Dec. 27).

Below is a list with expected opening dates.

Old Town

West End

Del Ray

Carlyle

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Nando’s in Old Town, photo via Google Maps

After 10 years in Old Town, Nando’s Peri-Peri is letting its lease expire and will close in mid-March.

Nando’s Peri-Peri opened at 702 King Street in 2010. With its leaser expiring, staff told ALXnow that it’s challenging to do business in the old building that is 186 years old.

The move also means that the 700 block of King Street will have another vacant storefront, as Nice Cream at 726 King Street closed in the fall.

Not to worry. The company’s South African chicken will be available when they reopen in August at their new location in Carlyle Crossing development at the Hoffman Town Center. There are also more than a dozen Nando’s throughout the region.

A number of other new businesses are moving in, too.

A Bad Ass Coffee Of Hawaii franchise will also be opening at Carlyle Crossing — one of three of the coffee shops that new owner L2 Ohana Café, LLC, is opening in Northern Virginia. KinderCare Learning Centers is also reportedly moving into the space.

Residents at The Foundry Apartments within the Hoffman Town Center were told about a number of the new businesses in a recent note from management.

“As you may have already observed, construction has begun on The Foundry retail,” Amanda Jones, a community manager for The Foundry wrote to residents. “The construction can be unsightly and will impact noise.”

Via Google Maps

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Matt & Tony’s will open for all-day brunch this spring at the former Charlie’s On The Avenue, the new restaurant’s owner tells ALXnow.

Alexandria Restaurant Partners bought the 3,000 square-foot space at 1501 Mount Vernon Avenue last fall with the intention of turning it into a concept called Joe’s Kitchen, but those plans were scrapped when ARP managing partner Matt Sloan announced he was leaving to open his own restaurant.

“I was going to leave working for them and they came to me and said they have this building, this opportunity,” Sloan told ALXnow. “It was Scott Shaw, Dave Nicholas and David Clapp. Those guys are awesome. We have a great relationship and it just made sense. They offered to lease me the building.”

Sloan, a Michigan native, moved to D.C. a year-and-a-half ago to work with ARP. He opened the company’s Ada’s On The River as their general manager and then spent time working at ARP’s The Majestic.

“The plan is to open in middle-to-late March,” he said.

Sloan is now developing a menu based around an all-day brunch concept. He named the restaurant after himself and his great-grandfather Anton (Tony) Schabas, a pastry chef who emigrated to the U.S. from Austria at the turn of the 20th century.

Charlie’s (1501 Mount Vernon Avenue) closed in January 2020, after being in business for less than three years. Before that it was home to Fireflies for 15 years.

“The important thing going into this space is getting engaged with the community and doing something special for the neighborhood,” Sloan said. “We will have an emphasis on breakfast and lunchtime, with steak and eggs, chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits.”

Sloan says that the hours for the restaurant will likely be 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends.

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There’s a new coffee shop on King Street. Turkish Coffee Lady officially opened its doors at 1001 King Street in Old Town, joining a handful of neighboring coffee-inspired hangouts.

The space at the corner of Patrick Street (also Route 1) and King Streets is the former location of Blüprint Chocolatiers, and the second floor was notoriously once home to white nationalist Richard Spencer.

The new coffee shop is also a stones throw from Misha’s Coffeehouse and Roaster, ESP Tea & Coffee and Uptowner Cafe.

Turkish Coffee Lady opened as a kiosk in Tysons Corner Center in 2017, and offers Turkish coffee, tea, desserts and pastries. The business began as a food truck in 2012, and owner Gizem Salcigil White and volunteers spent five years driving around America, Turkey, Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Canada.

“Turkish coffee is the world’s first coffee brewing technique, and is the genesis for coffee shops today,” White told ALXnow. “It’s unfiltered, and you are drinking coffee grinds, which is very healthy. If you have two cups without sugar a day, it actually boosts your immune system.”

Courtesy photos

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Carlyle-Wegmans concept rendering, photo via Wegmans

With the opening of the Carlyle Wegmans right around the corner, the grocery store chain has kicked off a hiring spree for around 300 part-time positions.

The store is scheduled to open in May as part of the mixed-use Carlyle Crossing development. The Wegmans is one of the first grocery stores in the neighborhood.

“Opening this spring, Store Manager Mike Anthony and his team are preparing to hire nearly 300 part-time positions for the 81,300 square foot store located at 150 Stovall Street in Alexandria,” Wegmans said in a press release. “These openings span a variety of positions across every department in the store, from culinary roles to customer service representatives. In total, the store will employ nearly 450 people, most of whom will be new to the company and hired locally.”

A virtual hiring event is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 20, from 1-5 p.m. Applicants can submit their information online and will be contacted via phone.

“While our opening is still a few months away, we are excited to begin training and building our team so that they’re fully prepared to deliver incredible customer service from day one,” said Carlyle Store Manager Mike Anthony in the release. “Wegmans has a long-standing reputation as an exceptional employer, with tremendous opportunity for career growth and development.”

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Athleta winter gear, photo via Athleta/Facebook

Women’s activewear store Athleta is opening today at 607 King Street in Old Town.

The store opens at 10 a.m. (so now-ish) and it open until 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. On Sundays, Athleta is open 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

“From Tuesday through Sunday we’ll be running a raffle from local businesses, studios and gyms,” Assistant Manager Michael Heit said in an email. “Raffles include local coffee, southblock giftcards, three month and two month memberships to gyms and studios along with a free year membership to Snap Fitness on King Street!”

Heit said the store will also have smaller giveaway prizes this week, along with samples and coupons to other local businesses.

Currently, as Alexandria dabbles with bouts of cold weather, Heit said cold-weather tights are particularly popular.

“Our cold weather running tight, the Rainier, is by far our most popular item right now for the colder weather months,” Heit said. “We can’t wait to open for everyone to see the gorgeous new space, never would have guessed it had been a La Tasca for all those years!”

Photo via Athleta/Facebook

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