As the pandemic winds down, Kristen Moore says she’s selling more cocktail dresses, blazers and jewelry from her Old Town consignment boutique.
Moore, who owns Twist Boutique (109 N. Fairfax Street), says that customers went for more casual styles when forced to work from home, and now are looking to dress up for work and events.
“People finally have reasons to dress up again,” Moore told ALXnow. “That wasn’t the case for two years, and now people want to look nice as the get back out there.”
Moore said that the pandemic affected everyone, including at Twist, which just celebrated its five year anniversary. Her staff of six was whittled down to two, and she credits regular local shoppers with helping her survive by buying consigned clothing and accessories, home furnishings and gifts.
“We didn’t have tourism and the local community shopped local more,” Moore said, adding that supply chain issues with national retailers led to an uptick in her business. “The middle-end of retailers had issues getting fabrics, and when people went back to Nordstrom they couldn’t find a dress in their size.”
Moore, a native of Houston, Texas, moved to Alexandria 20 years ago to work on Capitol Hill. She spent seven years working as a Congressional staffer and she spent nine years as an aviation lobbyist before leaving it all behind to open her own shop.
“I don’t mis it one bit,” Moore said of working in D.C. “I wanted to do something that I could be happy with, and get up every day and be excited about, and I know that sounds kind of cheesy but it’s true.”
Moore offers a 60-day consignment period, after which consigners can take back their unsold items. The shop gives 50% of sales to consigners for anything below $250, and then 60% for anything more than that, and 65% for anything that sells for more than $1,000.
The higher-end items are under lock and key, as the shop has dealt with thefts in the past.
“Because we have we’ve had David Yurman jewelry stolen before, like really delicate pieces,” Moore said. “We actually had it out because we were photographing it, and then this one lady came in and just yanked it and ran out the door.”
Like Moore, Twist Boutique is an eclectic mixture of styles. For instance, costume jewelry from the 1930s is sold alongside a $3,500 Chanel purse.
“People say I have an eye for putting things together that are unique,” she said. “I’ve always been like this. When I worked on the Hill, people would ask me where I shopped, and I said I shopped consignment. They thought I was joking.”
With all the new residential development coming up in Old Town North, new local residents wandering around their home might be surprised to see a sign marking the neighborhood’s very own elusive cryptid: the bizarre goosepigs.
Goosepigs, as the name suggests, are a rumored fusion of pigs and goose, an impossible biological feat said to be accomplished when the pair of species were driven into the fringes of the city by local ordinance.
The source listed on the sign is the 1972 book Pets in Old Alexandria by Dickman and Nicholson, but City Historian Daniel Lee said the story has older roots.
The only known source for the goosepig story is Mary Powell’s The History of Old Alexandria, Virginia, published in 1928. Lee said Powell was codifying older stories she’d heard.
Given that it’s a book from 1928, much of the language in the excerpts, including the section about goosepigs, has its share of racist language.
In Powell’s history, geese and pigs running amok in the street was a lingering issue even years after an Act of General Assembly prohibiting their presence.
A legend preserved by some [Black immigrants] not many generations from their native Africa, and who were full of folk tales, stated that after the manner of the “Pied Piper of Hammelin” they were tolled off to the arch under the canal basin, where they took up their abode. They cross-bred, retaining the legs of the pig and the webbed feet and bill of the goose.
They were said to be very good natured, and if approached diplomaticaly, would assist people in recovering lost property. Occationally youth of the town south to verify this story but were never successful. So after many years the legend of the Goosepigs at Spa Spring died out. It is worth re-counting, however, as an interesting bit of folklore.
Lee said the prohibitions on swine and geese started as early as 1811 in Alexandria, though some bans of pigs in the streets may have started earlier. However, there’s no evidence in the 1811 laws of Alexandria’s miraculous creatures being specifically targeted.
A Washington D.C. man was placed under an emergency substantial risk order on March 16 after allegedly threatening to shoot up the Alexandria Courthouse (520 King Street).
Police found the man outside of the courthouse in his red Jeep Cherokee, after his ex-girlfriend called police and said that he was having a mental health crisis, according to a search warrant affidavit. The woman told police that her ex was triggered after being threatened by a woman with a knife the previous day.
In a text message, the man told his ex that he was “outside the courthouse with my guns,” and when she asked his intentions, he responded with, “murder suicide,” according to the search warrant. She also told police that he suffers from depression and other mental health illnesses, and has never sought treatment.
The woman then sent police screenshots of texts from the man, including one that read, “I guess but at least my name will be on the news or sumn.”
Police spoke to the man on the phone, who told them he had disassembled rifles in bags in his trunk. He was not charged with a crime, and was taken into custody and transported to Inova Alexandria Hospital.
At an April 7 meeting (Item 9), the Planning Commission is scheduled to review the development’s development special use permit. The 901 N Pitt Street development is proposed by the somewhat unimaginatively named 901 N. Pitt Street, LLC, which the application says is a mix of The Oliver Carr Company and Carr Holdings II LLC.
“The applicant, 901 N. Pitt Street, LLC, requests approval for an eight-story mixed-use building with 250 multifamily units with a restaurant and an arts and cultural anchor on the ground floor,” a staff report said. “The main portion of the building (eight stories) will front Montgomery, N. Pitt, and N. Royal streets with the primary residential entrance on Montgomery Street. Retail storefronts will be located at the corner of Montgomery and N. Pitt streets as well as Montgomery and N. Royal streets.”
Montgomery Street will also host the entrance to a performance space, part of the burgeoning arts district in Old Town North. While affordable housing has been the traditional trade-off for bonus density, the report notes that this is only the second project to take advantage of both the affordable housing option and the new art space tools for bonus density. The new project has a total of 250 total residential units proposed, with 16 affordable units to households at or below 60% of the area median income (AMI) — which the report notes is the equivalent to $54,180-$77,400 in 2021 for a household with one to four members, respectively.
“The proposed redevelopment at 901 N. Pitt Street is utilizing a height and density bonus for an arts and cultural anchor as well as a density bonus for the provision of affordable housing,” the report said, “similar to the recently approved Tidelock project located nearby.”
The staff report indicated that, while nothing is set in stone, City Dance could be the new arts occupant.
“Staff supports the bonus density and height finding that the proposal will bring an established regional arts and cultural anchor to Alexandria,” the report said. “Additionally, the design of the space accommodates a range of arts uses that may have needs for both indoor classroom space and outdoor performance space in the outdoor dining area, should the arts and cultural anchor change in the future. Although not yet officially announced, the applicant has indicated that City Dance is the most likely tenant for the arts and cultural space.”
Much of the building’s massing is shifted towards the other nearby developments of a similar height, with a 40-foot courtyard providing a setback from the adjacent Watergate Condominium Complex.
“The mid-rise red brick massing portion of the building occupies most of the site that fronts along both Montgomery and N. Royal streets,” the report said. “The proposed restaurant, retail, and arts anchor at the ground floor is primarily located within this building form comprised of large storefront windows, with large warehouse-style windows included on the residential floors.”
Thinking about going into business in the Alexandria area?
It can sometimes be easier to buy an existing business, and the latest listings on BizBuySell show all kinds of companies in and around the city.
The website aggregates numerous business sale listings, and the names and locations are generally left out.
Reasons for selling, when provided, typically do not mention economic hardship, but more often involve the owner retiring or not having time to actively run the business.
Here are some that are currently listed:
- Low rent bakery for sale — “Specialty bakery for sale in the heart of Alexandria. This bakery is located on a very busy road surrounded by residential and retail businesses. The current owner is looking to retire and we are looking for a new owner/operator ready to expand this current business by adding a new menu with more options than the current menu. Seating inside and outside. Bring your concept to this turn key location.”
- Dog boutique in Old Town — “Incredible dog boutique store in charming and wealthy Old Town Alexandria. The business has been growing since inception in 2010.The high visibility location draws in hundreds of customers each week.”
- Truck parts distributor — “Turn Key Truck Parts Distributor! This business has been profitable for 60+ years. Loaded with Goodwill!”
- Alexandria-Falls Church nail salon — “Established, nice nail salon/spa with good income available for sale in the Falls Church, Alexandria area. Good rent. Potential for growth if adding more nail techs. Nail services comprise 80% of the business, the rest is hair services. Highly visible from main road. Good reviews. Nice and well decorated. Owner can stay and work on a part time basis. Staff will stay if new owner want.”
- Plumbing company in Alexandria part of Fairfax County — “Recent Price Adjustment a must see business. PROFITABLE, GROWING, Fully Staffed with great growth potential.”
- Former hair salon in Fairlington — “Formerly a hair salon by the name of Primary Colors, a hair salon that was in business for twenty years. Now the space is open, and is still built out to be a hair salon, but the space can also be altered to become a different business.”
- Hair salon for sale — “Great opportunity to own a small business for hairstylists who dream of owning their very own salon or a low capital investment for seasonal beauty salon owners who want to expand their business networks. The important fact to know is not about the price to buy this salon, it’s the financial ability and assets to prove to the Landlord in order to get the Landlord approval on the Leasehold of this great and unique business location.”
- Profitable restaurant for sale — “Great location, great visibility, long lease term, plenty of parking spaces, in a busy shopping center with many other businesses that crowded with customers on the daily basic, this restaurant is built up from the cold cell condition with new kitchen equipment, freezer, cooler, HVAC….., that’s clean and presenting a long useful life for new owner to do business in years to come without any major upgrading. This restaurant can be converting to other cuisine given there is no other restaurant of that cuisine is currently operated within the shopping center.”
- Highly profitable well-established restaurant for sale — “Located in the big shopping mall with a lot of traffic. Business serving dine in and high volume of carry out and perfect for any type of cuisine. Ample parking all around and lease is inexpensive. Owner is seeking a retirement.”
- Busy high-end Mediterranean restaurant — Sales at this location are listed at more than $75,000 monthly, and the seller claims that the owner income is $250,000. The restaurant seats 104, has 12 trained employees and is surrounded by commercial and residential properties.
- Dog waste removal company — “Currently have 500 active customers and growing quickly! Fully staffed and great reviews. Owner is looking to relocate and invest in a new venture.”
- Full-service restaurant with outdoor seating — “Prime location full service restaurant in the heart of Alexandria. Located on a heavy traffic road surrounded by residential, retail and offices. This restaurant has 3 floors which is great to host private events, lounge area as well as the sit down restaurant portion. The menu/concept can be kept the same or converted to your own. Large kitchen area with top of the line equipment. This is a must see location for any restauranteur looking to expand or take over an established turn key location. The current owner is ABSENTEE but ready to retire and we are looking for a new hands on owner/operator to bring this location to its full potential.”
- Profitable fast casual restaurant — “Profitable Thai restaurant in a very busy shopping center on a high traffic road in Alexandria VA. This restaurant has been in business for almost 10 years and has a great following with excellent google reviews by serving the most authentic Thai food with the highest quality ingredients in the area. All furniture, fixtures and equipment are in excellent condition and are included in the sale of this restaurant. Can be converted to fit most concepts & menus.”
- Mexican restaurant in Alexandria part of Fairfax County — “Fast casual dine in & carry out Mexican restaurant in a high traffic shopping center. This restaurant needs an updated menu with a hands on owner to manage daily business and take this location to the next level. The current Mexican menu can be changed to fit most concepts. Great layout for almost any type of fast food restaurant. All furniture, fixtures and equipment are in great working order.”
- Optometry practice — “Turnkey Optometry and Optical Business. Lease is assignable. Business is established and profitable. Optometry is considered “essential” business. Sellers will stay for transfer training. Beautiful store fully stocked with inventory, equipment, lab, exam room. 5 star location. Database, business name, website, inventory, and seller training all included. Priced below market.”
- Pizza restaurant — “Pizza restaurant established in 2014 for sale in Alexandria. This restaurant is located on a heavy foot traffic road surrounded by residential, retail and businesses. Great location with very low rent. Perfect starter restaurant for anyone looking to get into the restaurant business as well as a great location for restauranteurs looking to expand. This restaurant serves hand crafted pizzas, sandwiches and pasta’s as well as beer and wine. All furniture and fixtures are in excellent condition. High end kitchen equipment.”
- Japanese restaurant — “The restaurant is located in a busy area, and has been in the operation more than 8 years. More than 5000sf, high-class construction and decoration. The menu includes sushi, hibachi, and ramen. First generation owner since the business was founded, tons of the local customers and Japanese food fans from other places, the business can make $180k sales per month, lease can be extended definitely.”
- Barbecue chain with food trucks — “An American-style (Kansas City ) BBQ Restaurant with food trucks. They also have a nice catering component to the business. Decorated in a rustic decor, these units are located in great locations in easily accessible areas close to Washington DC.”
- Remodeling business — “After serving the community for 7 years, the current owner is ready to retire from this successful construction business. Ranked as a Top 100 Remodeling Company in the United States by Remodeling Magazine, the company provides exterior remodeling, windows, roofing, siding, gutters, doors, and attic solution services to their residential clients, tailored to fit their needs.”
- Auto sales and repair shop two blocks from Metro — “Auto use is grandfathered making this literally a once in a lifetime deal!”
An 18-year-old Alexandria man was arrested on gun and drug charges after backing his car against a police cruiser and allegedly attempting to drive away.
The incident occurred in the unit block of Oronoco Street near the Alexandria waterfront on Wednesday, Feb. 16.
Police found the suspect’s car parked in a no parking zone. While the investigating officer was advising dispatch of the location and description of the vehicle, the driver “reversed his vehicle, hit my unoccupied cruiser, and attempted to leave the area in an attempt to avoid police interaction,” police said in a search warrant affidavit.
Police also found that the driver is unlicensed, and had 1.1 ounces of marijuana with him, a digital scale and a black and gray loaded Glock 22 handgun.
The driver was charged with carrying a concealed weapon, possessing Schedule I/II drugs while possessing a firearm, driving without a license and failure to pay full attention while operating a vehicle. He was released on $3,000 bond on Feb. 17 and goes to court on March 30.
During the Civil War, the former home of Revolutionary War hero Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee was converted into a hospital for wounded Union soldiers. On Saturday (March 19), the Lee-Fendall House will briefly be converted into a hospital with living history reenactors.
The home of the former Virginia governor, and father of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, was also the site of the first-known successful blood transfusion.
The event is one of the following historical discussions taking place at the Lee-Fendall House this month:
- Friday, March 18 — Historian Dianne Murphy will conduct a lecture on the Civil War’s impact on modern medicine at 6 p.m.
- Saturday, March 19 — The living history event will be conducted from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Friday, March 25 — Historian Amanda Roper will conduct a lecture on “The Fight for Freedom at L’Ouverture Hospital” at 6 p.m. The hospital was where United States Colored Troops and African American civilians were treated during the war in Alexandria
The events cost $10 for adults and $5 for students ages 17 and under.
Alexandria restaurant owners Larry and Kristine Ponzi plan on opening their newest St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub in Fairlington in mid-May. The couple, who own Cafe Pizzaiolo (1623 Fern Street) and two other St. Elmo’s shops, also just bought a family restaurant in Nags Head, North Carolina.
The Ponzis shuttered their Cafe Pizzaiolo location in Shirlington in May 2020, and then entered 2022 strong with the opening of a second St. Elmo’s in Old Town North in January. The newest St. Elmo’s will open at 1536 Kenwood Avenue in mid-May — across the street from Cafe Pizzaiono, Ponzi said.
“Let’s just say this will keep us busy this year,” said Larry Ponzi. “We have an addiction. You know, we’re trying to control our growth, but it’s hard to not grow. There’s that old saying — if you’re not growing, you’re dying. We’re making sure that we keep growing.”
In February, the couple bought the Red Drum Grill & Taphouse in Nags Head, North Carolina, and now plan to reopen it by the beginning of April.
“We’re not we’re not planning on retiring,” Ponzi said. “This is our way to have a place to go to in the latter part of our lives. We get keep keep our businesses in Alexandria, and then go to the beach the rest of the week.”
Ponzi said that the Red Barn will mostly be the same, with subtle tweaks to the menu, and some painting and remodeling.
“This business has been a very successful business for more than two decades, and we want to keep that momentum going and put our own touch on it as we go,” Ponzi said.
No official announcements have been made, but D.C.-based bagel shop Call Your Mother Deli is not opening in Old Town.
The interior of the storefront at 128 and 130 N. Pitt Street is empty, and despite signing a lease last summer, staff at another location confirmed that the Old Town location is not happening. The brick and mortar has been vacant for more than two years since Helen Olivia Floral Design moved to Del Ray.
The company was challenged in Old Town after permitting issues, notably a stipulation that all trash be kept within the building since the alleyway is a public right of way — a major issue for a restaurant. Helen Olivia, when it was in Old Town, kept its trash indoors in sealed containers.
“Trash and garbage shall be stored inside or in sealed containers that do not allow odors to escape, invasion by animals, or leaking,” city staff wrote on the company’s special use permit certificate, which was issued last September. “No trash or debris shall be allowed to accumulate outside of those containers.”
Call Your Mother, a self-described “Jew-ish” deli specializes in making in-house bagel sandwiches, doughnuts, latkes and other deli favorites. The company has seven locations in D.C. and Maryland, and also sells products at farmers’ markets.
Food and Wine Magazine even listed it as one of 14 new names to know in a 2019 Best Jewish Delis in America article. The company was founded in 2018 by chefs Daniela Moreira and Andrew Dana, as well as Jeff Zients, a management consultant who is the Biden administration’s COVID-19 coordinator.
Requests for comment from Call Your Mother’s management were not returned.
An annual celebration of fast, unique and/or bizarre cars is coming back to Alexandria this spring for its third year.
The Old Town Festival of Speed & Style, presented by Burke and Herbert Bank, is scheduled to come back on May 22.
The event takes over the 200-400 blocks of King Street and the 100 blocks of North Royal and North Fairfax streets from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
“View dozens of rare and exotic cars up close, made famous by their speed, performance and elegance,” the website for the festival said. “This will be enhanced by a presentation of style, fashion and live music provided by over 40 local merchants.”
The Old Town Festival of Speed & Style will return on May 22! This event draws thousands of car enthusiasts from across the region to view the high-performance and racing vehicles. Proceeds will benefit the USO, ALIVE!, and the Campagna Center.
More at: https://t.co/IFEMgfFwbi
— ALIVE! (@ALIVE4AlexVA) March 11, 2022
Photo via Festival of Speed and Sound/Facebook