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In 2015, former Virginia state Del. Rob Krupicka left state politics to focus on running a donut shop in Alexandria. Seven years later, a combination of economic factors is forcing Krupicka to give up the dream and leave a donut hole in the Braddock neighborhood.

Krupicka announced on Twitter that Elizabeth’s Counter (formerly Sugar Shack), will close on Sunday, August 28. Krupicka is planning on shutting down the store and reopening with a new restaurant called Railbird Kitchen later this year.

Railbird Kitchen will focus on comfort food and cocktails, Krupicka said, while continuing Elizabeth’s Counter’s emphasis on offering good vegan options. Gone, however, are the handmade donuts that made Sugar Shack a local icon.

“We will have a number of vegan options to build on the customer base,” Krupicka said. “We’ll have more vegan options than a normal restaurant has, but more traditional options as well… Vegan options aren’t going away, but vegans have non-vegan friends, so we want something for them, too.”

The comfort food selection will include fried chicken, chicken sandwiches, and the sides that go with it.

Krupicka launched the Northern Virginia branch of Richmond-based Sugar Shack in 2015 to great local acclaim. The little Braddock shop’s hand-made donuts with a wild array of flavors were popular enough that Krupicka was able to expand into Arlington and D.C.

As the franchise further south started to get embroiled in infighting, Krupicka relaunched the Northern Virginia franchise as an independent chain called Elizabeth’s Counter. Elizabeth’s Counter continued producing handmade donuts but added more traditional restaurant fare with an emphasis on vegan options.

Around the same time, Krupicka launched Captain Gregory’s, a speakeasy adjacent to the main restaurant.

But that relaunch hit in March 2020, right as the COVID-19 pandemic started shutting down restaurants — many of which would never reopen. Elizabeth’s Counter remained open in Braddock, but the other locations closed within a year. Two years later, Krupicka said rising costs coupled with an office market that never fully returned has made handmade donuts unfeasible.

“The restaurant industry has changed a lot since the pandemic,” Krupicka said. “We have rising labor and ingredient costs. It got to a point where the labor and ingredient costs didn’t make sense for a handmade donut. We never used machinery in our kitchen, we made everything by hand, but it contributed to a higher-cost product.”

Krupicka said one of the big markets for donuts were local offices, but offices haven’t filled up the way they did pre-pandemic.

“People haven’t been going back to the office, and we’ve lost our going to the office donut business and it hasn’t come back,” Krupicka said. “I love donuts. My kids love donuts. This is entirely a business decision. I don’t have any regrets. I’ve loved the last seven and a half years doing donuts [and] we’re excited about the new business that’s coming.”

Krupicka said throughout September and October, he’ll be testing Railbird Kitchen menu items at Captain Gregory’s. Meanwhile, Elizabeth’s Counter will close for a couple months for cosmetic interior changes. Krupicka says he hopes to reopen in late fall or early winter.

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Hangry Joe’s in Alexandria Commons (image via John Chapman/Twitter)

Hot chicken chain Hangry Joe’s has opened in the Alexandria Commons shopping center (3227 Duke Street).

The chain announced the new location last October and it finally opened late last week according to the chain’s Instagram page.

As the name suggests, the main item on the menu is chicken — from chicken sandwiches and chicken fingers to the classic southern chicken waffle. Sides include fries, cider slaw or fried okra.

The chain also boasts an intense spectrum of heat, from mildly spicy to one requiring a waiver.

Image via John Chapman/Twitter

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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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Chewish Deli is open at the former Dunkin’ Donuts shop at 1640 King Street in Old Town. (staff photo by James Cullum)

Bagel lovers have a new spot two blocks from the King Street Metro station to get their fix. Chewish Deli softly opened its second brick-and-mortar at 1640 King Street in Old Town on Monday (August 8), offering a traditional Jewish deli cuisine of hand-rolled water bagels, hot pastrami sandwiches, and more.

Owner Gregg Linzey says he will hold a grand opening at some point, although he didn’t have a grand opening party for his first location at 807 Pendleton Street in the Braddock area in October 2020 — in the middle of the pandemic. The company was founded as a food truck seven months before that, and Linzey was forced to find a new space after the truck got into a crash and was taken out of commission.

Linzey, a former certified financial planner, says he found out about the King Street location while getting a haircut.

“It was a good opportunity, a great location,” he told ALXnow. “My barber, actually, opened up a shop in the same building and told me about the space while he was cutting my hair. I contacted the guys here. It worked out well. We’re looking forward to having this space next to the Metro and having dining inside.”

The 1,350-square-foot space is the former longtime home of a Dunkin’ Donuts.

“We came here thinking that the Dunkin’ Donuts was still here,” Tracie Middleton said. “My daughter and I peeked in and we thought, ‘Our taste buds are ready. Why not? We’ll try it.'”

As for further expansion, Linzey says he’s taking things slow. The company is having trouble procuring to-go containers and paper coffee cups.

“That is still not 100% decided,” he said. “Running from one location to two is a big change. My plan is to relax a little bit and get both locations running a little more autonomously. We’re trying to figure out our logistics and ordering, and we’re still running into issues with shortages on certain things, which is a bigger challenge now that we have two locations instead of one.”

Linzey lives in Old Town. He’s a native of Haverhill, Massachusetts, and spent years traveling to Brooklyn and eating fresh bagels with his grandmother.

“We’re really the only local bagel shop that puts ourselves out there as New York-style,” he said. “Our bagels are as good as they are because we’re not trying to do anything fancy. We boil them and use malt syrup for the sweetener.”

It costs between $2 and $4 for a cup of coffee, $2 for a single bagel and up to $10 for a bagel sandwich.

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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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Ted’s Bulletin breakfast (photo via Ted’s Bulletin/Facebook)

Americana restaurant Ted’s Bulletin and the off-shot Sidekick Bakery are coming to the Carlyle Crossing’s development in the eponymous Carlyle neighborhood, Washington Business Journal first reported.

Carlyle Crossing is a mixed-use development near the Eisenhower Metro station anchored by a Wegmans Food Market that opened in May. The Alexandria location will be the seventh Ted’s Bulletin in the region, with other locations in nearby Merrifield and Ballston Quarter.

In addition to classic American fare like fried chicken and burgers, the restaurant has all-day breakfast and is possibly best known for its Ted’s Tarts — like a bougie take on a Pop-Tart.

No word yet on when the Ted’s Bulletin location in Carlyle will open, but ALXnow has reached out to the restaurant for more information about the opening.

Photo via Ted’s Bulletin/Facebook

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Pepe’s Pizza (image via Pepe’s Pizza/Facebook)

Connecticut-based pizza shop Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana — aka Pepe’s Pizza — is planning to open in the Alexandria Commons Shopping Center (3231 Duke Street) next week.

The pizzeria announced in a release that the Alexandria location, the second in the region after one in Bethesda, Maryland, will open on Monday, July 18.

“Inspired by the look and feel of the original New Haven location, Pepe’s Pizza of Alexandria evokes the original’s comfort, familiarity, and tradition,” the pizzeria said in a release. “The 3,600-square-foot, 100-seat restaurant is visually dominated by the view of its 14 x 14-foot, 104,000-pound oven and the even more significant ‘paddle area,’ where expert pizzaiolos create made-to-order masterpieces on an oak wood table and use 16-foot-long paddles to place them in the oven.”

The menu features specialties like a clam pizza and one that’s a mix of pretty much every type of meat one would expect in the kitchen of an Italian pizzeria. The release also noted that there will be imported and domestic craft beer available.

The location will be open from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. seven days a week, with indoor dining and takeout options.

“There’s a special energy and excitement in the DMV that aligns perfectly with our restaurant,” said Sean Barry, general manager of Frank Pepe’s Alexandria, in the release. “The Bethesda community welcomed us with open arms and we are thrilled to soon debut in Alexandria.”

Image via Pepe’s Pizza/Facebook

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Bucatini Carbonara at Thompson Italian (image via Thompson Italian/Facebook)

The former Hank’s Oyster Bar location at 1024 King Street could become a new location for Thompson Italian, an Italian restaurant in Falls Church.

According to a new special use permit filing by “King Street Italian, LLC”, the Italian restaurant could be taking over the spot vacated by Hank’s in March when the restaurant moved to Old Town North.

According to the permit, the operation of the restaurant will remain consistent with previous special use permits except for a change to alcohol sales codified during the pandemic.

“The operation of the restaurant will remain consistent with the special use permit approval dated June 16, 2012, with the exception of the requested elimination of condition #12,” the application said. “The Applicant requests an amendment to the conditions to eliminate Condition #12 since the October 17, 2020 Zoning Ordinance amendment to Section 11-514 revised the special use permit standards for restaurants to state that ‘on and off premises alcohol sales, consistent with a valid ABC license are permitted.'”

The application said there will also be minor interior changes.

“Minor interior renovations are proposed to the lower level kitchen, main level service area, and other finishes as shown in the enclosed plans,” the application said. “Minor exterior changes are proposed to the doors, light fixtures, and signage. These changes have been reviewed by historic preservation staff.”

Image via Thompson Italian/Facebook

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Jollibee storefront in Lincolnia (image courtesy Jollibee)

Filipino chicken chain Jollibee announced that, after some earlier delays, the Lincolnia location is scheduled to open this Sunday, June 26.

The restaurant is opening at 4809 Beauregard Street in the Plaza at Landmark shopping center. The restaurant is scheduled to be open seven days a week from 9 a.m.-11 p.m, with both in-restaurant dining or to-go options.

In addition to chicken, the restaurant’s menu includes items from spaghetti to peach mango pie.

“We received an incredibly warm welcome last year when we first opened our doors in the DMV with our Wheaton, Maryland location,” said Business Group head Maribeth Dela Cruz in a release. “We knew immediately that we wanted to offer a convenient location on the southern side of D.C. so that those who live, work and play in Northern Virginia could enjoy their Jollibee favorites without having to travel far.”

The release noted that the Alexandria location is Jollibee’s 82nd location in the United States.

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There’s a new reason to go to the Hyatt Centric Old Town.

Indo-Chinese restaurant Indochen is now open at the hotel (1625 King Street) serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is the second Indochen in Alexandria, after its location at 4906 Brenman Park Drive in Cameron Station.

The menu has been curated by Chef Ram Thapa, who is bringing his hometown food of Nepal to the restaurant’s tables. Diners can enjoy a traditional American breakfast, as well as lunch and dinner menus that include items like chop suey, chow mein, and Indian dishes like butter chicken, samosas and palak paneer.

“Along with the excitement of leading one of Alexandria’s newest hotels, I am thrilled to work alongside Chef Ram Thapa and bring a new energy to the lobby to create a refreshing experience for every guest,” says General Manager Sam Selvi. “With easy access to breakfast, lunch and dinner options, Indonchen enables visitors to discover cuisine that encompasses the best of Indian and Chinese culture.”

The space was previously home to French & Southern.

The new restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The Indochen team at the Hyatt Centric Old Town. (Via Facebook)

Via Facebook

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