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It takes less than five minutes to make most orders at Don Taco. The restaurant and tequila bar at 808 King Street also claims to make the best margaritas in Old Town, and that combination of making quick to-go orders with alcoholic drinks to wash it all down has been their secret to success during the pandemic.

“There’s not much of a profit margin on food costs,” Don Taco’s General Manager Tracey Deiderich told ALXnow. “As far as alcohol is concerned, that’s where restaurants make most of their money. Allowing restaurants to do this just weeks after we had to shut down was a huge success.”

Chef Mike Cordero has owned the building for decades, rebooting it several times with new concepts. He launched Don Taco in 2016, after spending years with it as Flat Iron Steak & Saloon and Cafe Salsa.

The restaurant is one of Cordero’s many taquerias in the region. It has a menu with dozens of $3.95 tacos, and was featured on the Cooking Channel’s Cheap Eats with Ali Khan with a number of other Alexandria restaurants.

“In my kitchen, they are beasts when it comes to getting food out quickly,” Deiderich said. “You might even get your tacos in about 60 seconds after you order.”

Best sellers include the Sriracha chicken taco, the pomegranate-glazed skirt steak taco and the fried avocado taco.

Deiderich says most dates can cost an average of $50 at Don Taco.

“You could come in and have a blast for 50 bucks,” he said. “I mean, at $3.95 a taco, and grab yourself a pumpkin spice Margarita or one of our specialty drinks.”

As for the margaritas, Deiderich says they’re made with fresh ingredients.

“I mean, we have the best margaritas in Old Town,” he said. “We don’t use any fillers, it’s all fresh ingredients. Just tequila, fresh lime juice and fresh Agave nectar. There’s no sour mixes or anything like that in there. It’s all fresh and ready and raring to go anytime you need to drink.”

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The power went out on the busiest day of the year in Del Ray on Saturday (October 2).

An estimated 50,000 people descended on Mount Vernon Avenue for the 26th annual Art On The Avenue festival that day, but many restaurants and other businesses were forced to shut down due to the outage.

Homegrown Restaurant Group’s Pork Barrel BBQ Restaurant, The Sushi Bar, and Holy Cow Del Ray lost a combined $30,000 in sales, co-owner Bill Blackburn told ALXnow.

“It was disappointing,” Blackburn said. “It was a lot of work for nothing.”

Dominion Energy reported that the outage was due to underground switch and cable equipment failure, and eventually restored power at around 10:30 p.m. — after the event was over.

Mayor Justin Wilson says the city is now considering a “variety” of options to improve service.

“We are exploring a variety of options to improve the reliability of Alexandria’s electricity service,” Wilson said. “We continue to believe that Dominion can and should do more to build a more reliable and resilient infrastructure to serve the City.”

Wilson did not get specific on the options, and said that the City will release more information this week. During the outage, he tweeted out a strongly worded post, and said it was unacceptable that a central business district was plunged in darkness.

Blackburn said business was strong the following day, on Sunday, with support mainly coming from local customers.

“Once again, we are lucky to do business in such a great community,” he said.

The Dairy Godmother, on Facebook, said that it lost “400 kolaches and 1,500 donuts… due to the power outage.”

“We are so sorry we were closed,” the shop wrote. “We have the greatest staff in the greatest neighborhood with the worst power company (except for Texas), we will open at 9AM with Just Fine Donuts, today we have Pumpkin Cake donuts, plus all of our usual flavors of yeast and cake donuts. With luck by 10 we will have Sausage Cheese Kalaches. Custard by Noon with Pumpkin as the Flavor of the Day, Apple Crisp is the Treat of the day.”

Alexandria also sent a letter to Dominion asking them to step up their game earlier this year. There were 16 large-scale outages in 2020 affecting thousands of residents.

The following businesses lost power, according to Visit Del Ray:

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If you’re looking to take the edge off in Old Town without having an alcoholic drink, there’s a new option.

On October 1, ESP Tea and Coffee will launch ESP Evenings and release its new tea and elixir menu. ESP Evenings will be held every Friday, from  7 p.m. and end at 10:30 p.m.

The small cafe at 1012 King Street has seen its fair share of changes since reopening nearly eight months ago.

Their new offerings will include “house-made and innovative tonics,” the company said. The concoctions are infused with herbs like Damiana, Tulsi, and Ceremonial Cacao. There will also be six new herbal Chinese teas, adding to the more than 50 green, black, oolong options. Esp is also adding a full Gong-Fu tea service to their menu.

The Polynesian ritual drink Kava, which is used for relaxation, will also be offered.

“ESP will be only the second establishment in Virginia offering Kava,” the company said in a release. “This peppery relaxing drink is the perfect come down after a long work day.”

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Morning Notes

On Wednesday (September 29), 757 Alexandria City High School seniors in government classes participated in a mock election, and voted for governor, lieutenant governor, the House of Delegates seat in the 46th District, Commonwealth’s attorney and Sheriff. The results were not made public, as the unofficial voting was just an exercise. (Via Claire Going/ACPS)

Aslin Beer Co. opens new scratch kitchen in Alexandria — “For the past two years, Chef Taylor Gates has been learning about pizza and dough — and now the taproom at Aslin Beer Co. in Alexandria’s West End is ready to serve it up. Aslin is opening a new scratch kitchen concept this week called Knead.” [Alexandria Living]

City Council approves additional eviction prevention resources — “City Council’s decision funds $457,000 for two service navigator and two housing relocator positions; storage assistance for household belongings; and additional legal services provided by the Legal Aid Justice Center to assist people at risk for eviction due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” [City of Alexandria]

Inova Alexandria Hospital brings peer recovery to the emergency room — “Patients visiting the E.R. for a substance-related crisis can speak with a specialist once they are medically stable. The idea is to help them take that first step toward recovery.” [Zebra]

Today’s weather — “Plentiful sunshine. High 74F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph… A mostly clear sky (in the evening). Low 51F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Employee Rotation Program with the Office of Historic Alexandria — “Work involves writing, editing and planning layout of brochures and flyers, newspaper articles, press releases, and/or planning and implementing publicity and fundraising campaigns. Work requires the exercise of creativity, independent judgment, and a familiarity with Alexandria’s African American history. The work is performed under general supervision of the Director of the Alexandria Black History Museum in consultation with the Director of OHA.” [Governmentjobs.com]

Via Claire Going/ACPS

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Police outside the McDonalds where a shooting occurred, staff photo by James Cullum

What a busy week in Alexandria.

Our top story this week was on a juvenile who was shot outside the McDonald’s at the Bradlee Shopping Center on Tuesday, Sept. 21. There have also been a number of concerning incidents at Alexandria City Public Schools, including a juvenile who was arrested for trespassing and assault and battery at Alexandria City High School.

Meanwhile, while the COVID-19 transmission rate remains high, public events are still happening in Alexandria.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Police: Juvenile shot at shopping center near Alexandria City High School
  2. Police dispatched three times for fighting at Alexandria City Public Schools in less than a month
  3. Police: Six hospitalized after overdoses on Alexandria-Fairfax border
  4. Poll: What do you think of Metro’s proposed Blue Line crossing to National Harbor?
  5. BREAKING: Flooding reported in Alexandria
  6. Interview: Port City Publius opens up about Alexandria
  7. BREAKING: Video shows brawl at Alexandria City High School cafeteria just two days after school starts
  8. Juvenile arrested for trespassing and assault and battery at Alexandria City High School
  9. Multiple violent charges dropped against Fairfax County man held without bond for assaulting police during arrest
  10. Preserving Arlandria’s affordability against gentrification could cost upward of $100 million
  11. JUST IN: One person injured after shots fired in West End Tuesday afternoon

Have a safe weekend! 

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Ready to buy a restaurant or salon in Alexandria?

The latest listings on BizBuySell show all kinds of businesses for sale in and around Alexandria. Many are restaurants, which have been heavily impacted by the pandemic.

The website aggregates numerous business sale listings. The names and locations are generally left out, but there are exceptions.

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:

  1. 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.”
  2. Ultra Modern dental practice in Del Ray — “Ultra-modern dental practice in the heart of a high income, recession proof area located in the vibrant DelRay area of Alexandria near Old Town Alexandria, Pentagon City, National Landing, Potomac Yard, Arlington, and Crystal City. The office is located on the ground level of a multi-family project with excellent visibility on Mount Vernon Avenue (daily traffic count of 16.000 cars) and abundant garage parking available to patients and staff at no charge in close proximity to the office.”
  3. Beautiful Modern Laundromat for Sale — “Beautiful modern laundromat in a great location! 21st century laundromat with card system, customized folding tables, modern design, with high-powered energy efficient machines. Location is about 4000 SF located near many current and upcoming apartment complexes. Long-term 10 tear lease with 5 year option. This place is fully card operated and can be easily managed from home with one visit a week.”
  4. Hair salon for sale — “Established over 32 years, 17 with current owner. Located in a major brand grocery anchored shopping center. Good demographics. Exclusive right in the shopping center for hair and nail operations but focus on hair services right now. Staff and seller will stay if new owner desires. Currently 5-day operation but can expand to 6 or 7 to increase revenue. Excellent opportunity for both owner operators and/or investors.”
  5. High-class Japanese restaurant with strong business — “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 indefinitely.”
  6. Well Established Dry Cleaning Business for Sale — “Dry Cleaners and sewing laundry for sale very safe and populated shopping center. Current owner planned to retire after 25 yrs of successful business. Customers and equipment’s well maintained.”
  7. Free standing auto repair — “Busy Five bay, free standing auto repair business located on major road in the City of Alexandria. Densely populated high income area. This shop stays busy with a healthy fleet business as well repeat and new customers. Priced at only $150,000.”
  8. Profitable fast-casual restaurant — “Great opportunity to own this fast casual restaurant in the heart of Alexandria. This restaurant is located in a busy shopping center along a heavy traffic road. The current owner of this restaurant is ABSENTEE and making approximately $140,000 a year. Menu can be converted to fit most concepts. Must see!”
  9. Riverview Festival restaurant — “Located right off a river; Increasingly richer demographics as luxurious condos are sprung up in a few blocks; Lease is solid and firm; Customers are turned away as the Restaurant has become the center of evening culture in town. Sales is way above 2019 level. Take your challenge and soar through as the opportunity allows a lot of rooms to grow. Established 30 years.”
  10. Specialty pizza in high-volume high-income area — “A neighborhood success centered around its high-quality stone oven with an array of alternative Mediterranean main courses, sandwiches and desserts, . The owner has created several of these locations in Northern Virginia and is ready to spin this one off to stand on its own while he focuses on bringing others to maturity.”
  11. Well-established deli for sale — “Located in a great neighborhood, among many loyal customers. Serving over 40 years. Turnkey operation. Doing quite well during the pandemic. Plenty of room to improve. Currently has no marketing and delivery service. Not serving beer and wine. Seller will train new owner for a reasonable time period.”
  12. Coin Laundry/Laundromats — “No Exception, Non-Disclosure must be signed in person meeting, No emailing signing. We can meet at anywhere in Fairfax county to sign NDA with appointment.”

via BizBuySell

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Acclaimed D.C. Indian restaurant Karma Modern’s Alexandria spin-off could be opening sometime next month.

Karma Modern staff told ALXnow that the plan is to open Kismet (111 N. Pitt Street) in mid-late October.

Staff said the menu won’t be exactly the same as Karma Modern, but will be similar. Co-founder Sachin Mahajan told Northern Virginia Magazine the restaurant will be a little less fancy compared to the D.C. sister restaurant, but still won’t be casual.

Kismet will be filling the space in Old Town that was formerly BurgerFi.

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Ready to buy a restaurant or salon in Alexandria?

The latest listings on BizBuySell show all kinds of businesses for sale in and around Alexandria. Many are restaurants, which have been heavily impacted by the pandemic.

The website aggregates numerous business sale listings. The names and locations are generally left out, but there are exceptions.

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:

  1. 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.”
  2. Ultra Modern dental practice in Del Ray — “Ultra-modern dental practice in the heart of a high income, recession proof area located in the vibrant DelRay area of Alexandria near Old Town Alexandria, Pentagon City, National Landing, Potomac Yard, Arlington, and Crystal City. The office is located on the ground level of a multi-family project with excellent visibility on Mount Vernon Avenue (daily traffic count of 16.000 cars) and abundant garage parking available to patients and staff at no charge in close proximity to the office.”
  3. Beautiful Modern Laundromat for Sale — “Beautiful modern laundromat in a great location! 21st century laundromat with card system, customized folding tables, modern design, with high-powered energy efficient machines. Location is about 4000 SF located near many current and upcoming apartment complexes. Long-term 10 tear lease with 5 year option. This place is fully card operated and can be easily managed from home with one visit a week.”
  4. Hair salon for sale — “Established over 32 years, 17 with current owner. Located in a major brand grocery anchored shopping center. Good demographics. Exclusive right in the shopping center for hair and nail operations but focus on hair services right now. Staff and seller will stay if new owner desires. Currently 5-day operation but can expand to 6 or 7 to increase revenue. Excellent opportunity for both owner operators and/or investors.”
  5. High-class Japanese restaurant with strong business — “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 indefinitely.”
  6. Well Established Dry Cleaning Business for Sale — “Dry Cleaners and sewing laundry for sale very safe and populated shopping center. Current owner planned to retire after 25 yrs of successful business. Customers and equipment’s well maintained.”
  7. Free standing auto repair — “Busy Five bay, free standing auto repair business located on major road in the City of Alexandria. Densely populated high income area. This shop stays busy with a healthy fleet business as well repeat and new customers. Priced at only $150,000.”
  8. Profitable fast-casual restaurant — “Great opportunity to own this fast casual restaurant in the heart of Alexandria. This restaurant is located in a busy shopping center along a heavy traffic road. The current owner of this restaurant is ABSENTEE and making approximately $140,000 a year. Menu can be converted to fit most concepts. Must see!”
  9. Riverview Festival restaurant — “Located right off a river; Increasingly richer demographics as luxurious condos are sprung up in a few blocks; Lease is solid and firm; Customers are turned away as the Restaurant has become the center of evening culture in town. Sales is way above 2019 level. Take your challenge and soar through as the opportunity allows a lot of rooms to grow. Established 30 years.”
  10. Specialty pizza in high-volume high-income area — “A neighborhood success centered around its high-quality stone oven with an array of alternative Mediterranean main courses, sandwiches and desserts, . The owner has created several of these locations in Northern Virginia and is ready to spin this one off to stand on its own while he focuses on bringing others to maturity.”
  11. Well-established deli for sale — “Located in a great neighborhood, among many loyal customers. Serving over 40 years. Turnkey operation. Doing quite well during the pandemic. Plenty of room to improve. Currently has no marketing and delivery service. Not serving beer and wine. Seller will train new owner for a reasonable time period.”
  12. Coin Laundry/Laundromats — “No Exception, Non-Disclosure must be signed in person meeting, No emailing signing. We can meet at anywhere in Fairfax county to sign NDA with appointment.”

via BizBuySell

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Morning Notes

Alexandria chooses historic trolley as 2021 holiday ornament — “The City of Alexandria is now taking orders for its 2021 Trolley ornament, depicting Car 303 of the Mount Vernon Alexandria & Washington Electric Railway. The fleet of art deco cars were purchased in 1918 for the essential trolley line that connected Del Ray commuters to DC and tourists to Mount Vernon. Car 303 ran until the railway’s closure in 1932. It became a diner in 1936.” [Zebra]

Missing 83-year-old West Ender found safe — “Mr. Navia has been located.” [Twitter]

Early voting starts Friday — “Early voting for the Nov 2 General Election begins Fri, Sep 17. In Alexandria, ballot includes contests for VA Governor; Lt. Governor; Attorney General; House of Delegates; Commonwealth’s Attorney; Sheriff; Mayor; City Council & School Board.” [Twitter]

Chamber ALX sets legislative agenda — “Over the last decade we have been an outspoken voice for the completion of Potomac Yard metro, redevelopment of Landmark Mall, streamlining small business regulations and a champion of countless issues directly impacting the business community. We are proud to be entrusted with amplifying the voice of the diverse businesses in our city…” [Alexandria Living]

Today’s weather — “Mostly cloudy skies early will become partly cloudy later in the day. Hot. High 92F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph… A few clouds (in the evening). Low 71F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Chef De Cuisine at The Alexandrian — “Sage Hotel Management is currently seeking a Chef De Cuisine for our King & Rye restaurant located inside The Alexandrian Hotel, in Alexandria, VA.” [Indeed]

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What an interesting week in Alexandria. Here’s the rundown.

World champion sprinter Noah Lyles brought home his bronze medal from the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday. In a frank, TED Talk-like speech at Alexandria City High School, Lyles talked about the importance of mental health as he struggled to perform at the games.

“A lot of people will look at the Olympics this year like something was different with the athletes,” said Lyles. “Well, it was a lot of difference because we had so much weight that we had to hold onto — about two years. I was no different.”

On the COVID-19 front, while the transmission level remains high in Alexandria, this week the city tied with Arlington for the lowest seven-day positivity rate in Virginia. Large outdoor public events are still happening, too, and on Monday, a vast majority of local elected officials and candidates converged for the Alexandria Democratic Committee’s annual Labor Day Picnic, which included an appearance by gubernatorial candidate, former Governor Terry McAuliffe.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Man arrested for spending spree after finding wallet in Bradlee Shopping Center parking lot
  2. COVID-19 Update: Alexandria ties with Arlington for lowest seven-day positivity rate in Virginia
  3. BREAKING: Pedestrian critically injured in Old Town car crash
  4. Mark Center development plans head to Planning Commission this week
  5. Alexandria Police union calls out years of executive mismanagement
  6. JUST IN: Suspects arrested after allegedly firing shots at Alexandria Police
  7. BREAKING: Video shows brawl at Alexandria City High School cafeteria just two days after school starts
  8. Mayor outlines upcoming plastic bag tax plans
  9. Village Brauhaus aims for rooftop expansion
  10. No injuries or arrests after shots fired in Old Town Sunday night
  11. Most expensive homes sold in Alexandria in August

Have a safe weekend!

Via Elijah Walter Griffin, Sr.

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