Seven months after it was originally supposed to reopen, South African fast food chain Nando’s Peri-Peri could finally be opening next week in Alexandria’s Carlyle neighborhood.
In a press release, the restaurant announced the Hoffman Town Center location at 2462 Mandeville Lane will open on Monday, March 27. The 3,000-square-foot restaurant will have dining for 72 customers. Hours are 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday, and 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Nando’s Peri-Peri opened on King Street in 2010 but closed one year ago after the lease expired. The restaurant was scheduled to open last August but was delayed.
The new Carlyle location will also kick off a “Community Day” a month after it launches. On Saturday, April 22, all proceeds (sans tax and alcohol sales) will be donated to Alexandria City High School’s Parent Teacher Student Association.
According to the release:
Nando’s PERi-PERi, the beloved South African restaurant brand recognized around the world for its spicy flame-grilled chicken, hatches in Alexandria on Monday March 27th. The restaurant, in the Carlyle Crossing neighborhood near the Wegmans and the AMC movie theater, represents Nando’s long-awaited return to Alexandria.
Nando’s operated for years on King Street in Old Town. The new restaurant, at 2462 Mandeville Lane in The Foundry, features stunning industrial designs that mix exposed concrete and columns with contemporary African patterns, original African artwork, furniture, and light fixtures.
“We can’t wait to bring our mouth-watering chicken back to Alexandria,” said John Fisher, CEO of Nando’s PERi-PERi. “PERi-PERi – or African Bird’s Eye Chilli – is the heart and soul of the Nando’s experience. We marinate our chicken in PERi-PERi for at least 24-hours, so the flavor goes right through to the bone. Then we grill it over an open flame and baste it with PERi-PERi sauce to the customer’s preferred spice level. That’s what makes our chicken so addictive.”
The company’s journey from the tip of Africa to the edge of Alexandria–an adventure which began 35 years ago with a single location in Johannesburg–now spans 24 nations from Australia to Zimbabwe. Landing stateside in 2008 with its inaugural US restaurant in Washington, DC, the brand has since expanded to nearly 50 sites in DC, Virginia, Maryland, Chicago, and soon in Texas.
Nando’s new Alexandria location opens in a prime site in the Hoffman Town Center. The restaurant features original, contemporary South African art and furniture. The 3,000-square-foot Nando’s will offer dine-in seating for 72 customers, a spacious outdoor patio, and convenient take-out service and parking. Hours are 10:30am to 10pm from Sunday to Thursday, and 10:30am to 11pm on Friday and Saturday.
One of Alexandria’s last waterfront warehouses is becoming a tavern.
According to a press release, the squat brick warehouse at 10 Duke Street is going to be converted into a market, tavern and event space called Cooper Mill, a throwback to the site’s history of making barrels for the Alexandria Flower Company.
The warehouse — once used as a mess hall and commissary by Union soldiers during the Civil War — is in the Robinson Landing development and was left intact while the rest of the buildings around it were rebuilt.
The release said the new tavern is being helmed by Noe Landini, who operates the eponymous Landini Brothers Restaurant (115 King Street) and Junction Bakery & Bistro (1508 Mount Vernon Avenue), and boutique builder Murray Bonitt.
“When [Bonitt] brought this opportunity to me and asked me to participate, it was a no-brainer,” Landini said in the release. “An incredible building as it stands, but Murray shared his vision, and I simply couldn’t resist. It wasn’t long before we were drawing out a concept on the back of a napkin and before you knew it, we were off.”
According to the release:
The current plans for the two-story 6,400 square-foot warehouse building will consist of a small upscale market at the rear of the building, with a casual tavern on the first floor, and a 3,200 private event space upstairs. The market will feature grab-n-go breakfast foods and coffee, sandwiches, soups, prepared foods, fresh breads, and baked goods from Landini’s various locations, as well as beer, wine, and other high-demand market items. The tavern will have a relaxed casual vibe consisting of repurposed materials from the building to create a warm rustic, yet urban feel. The special event space upstairs will be the crown jewel of the building, Bonitt says, with lots of light, exposed brick, balconies with views of the park and river, repurposed roof trusses and flooring, with the ability to host events up to 120 people.
The project is expected to open sometime in late spring 2024.
(Updated 6 p.m. on March 13) Del Ray restaurant Stomping Ground will be reopening as a taqueria, its staff are telling customers.
The eight-year-old restaurant at 2309 Mount Vernon will change to a taqueria, although menus have not been prepared. The concept was confirmed by multiple managers with the restaurant group, although a recent post on Facebook says otherwise.
“Sorry, This information is incorrect,” Stomping Ground said in the post. “The name and concept. Please remove this article and call us for a fact check. Thank you!”
Owner Nicole Jones said that she is ready for a change on the company’s website.
“Our team has decided that in April 2023, we will shutter our beloved biscuit house to make way for something entirely new,” Jones said. “We know that the next chapter will hopefully delight our customers again. In the meantime, please join me in saying goodbye to my beloved first restaurant. She has been so good to all of us.”
Jones said that Stomping Ground was impacted by the pandemic, and that cost increases made the restaurant too expensive to run.
“While watching the price of flour, dairy and eggs, the soul of our recipes, skyrocket, I watched my staff become more complacent every day,” Jones wrote. “Without the community, Stomping Ground is not the third space it once was and working there feels more and more like just another job.”
Jones has two years left on her lease and said that she isn’t ready to give up, but that the pandemic changed her on a fundamental level.
“I still have the same team, and for the most part the same customers, although we see less and less of our old regulars,” she wrote. “All of this compounded as I realized I have 2 years left on my lease. Is it time to tap out and close Stomping Ground after 10 years? I simply don’t have the wherewithal to eke out yet another round of changes and the market can only sustain so many price increases. I no longer have the anxiety and adrenaline it took to pivot my business over and over for 2 years. I have pivoted her into something I no longer recognize.”
At the end of her letter, she simply signed off as “Nicole — Janitor, Chef, Owner.”
The full letter is below the jump.
If you’ve tried to get a seat at 1799 Prime Steak & Seafood but couldn’t, you might have better luck in the future.
Old Town restaurant 1799 Prime Steak & Seafood (110 S. Pitt Street) is heading to the Planning Commission to get permission to better use its outdoor patio space.
According to the application, the restaurant is currently only allowed to seat 40 patrons in the patio — roughly a third of the restaurant’s capacity. A map in the planning documents suggests the owners are aiming to create a 104-seat patio space.
“The patio area is currently restricted to seating only 40 patrons,” the restaurant owner said in the application. “The full floor plan for 1799 Prime consists of 120 seats. The space allows for ample spacing between tables and chairs. The patio also contains a bar area with 10 seats, included in 120 seats stated previously.”
A new restaurant focused on milkshakes in mason jars is coming to Old Town.
The Crazy Mason, a self-described milkshake bar, is planning to open at 716 King Street sometime this summer.
“The Crazy Mason Milkshake Bar offers sweet treats of all kinds, specializing in unique milkshakes and sundaes served in keepsake custom-designed mason jars,” the restaurant said in a release.
The Crazy Mason features a variety of types of milkshakes along with other desserts, like cookies and cheesecake. There are also a couple vegan options with non-dairy milk, according to the website.
The new location is set to open this summer, The Crazy Mason said in a release, with a more specific date to be announced closer to opening.
The chain started out in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in 2020. The Alexandria store will be the 10th location in the swiftly growing chain.
“We fell in love with the Crazy Mason brand while on a family vacation in Myrtle Beach in 2021 and we opened our first location in 2022 in Ellicott City, Maryland,” franchisees Erin and Robert Studer said in a release. “We wanted to bring our crazy treats to the DC metro area and Old Town Alexandria is one of our favorite places. With the waterfront, the cosmopolitan feel and the walkable nature of the town, we are so excited to announce our next location on King Street.”
The Crazy Mason enters a neighborhood with some stiff frozen dairy competition, with five ice cream shops along or just off King Street in Old Town.
Image via The Crazy Mason Milkshake Bar/Facebook
After a series of neighborhood complaints, the popular Arlandria neighborhood bar Hops ‘N Shine (3410 Mount Vernon Avenue) is being brought back to the Planning Commission for a review of its special use permit.
The docket says Hops ‘N Shine says a special use permit, originally approved in 2020 for more outdoor entertainment and indoor seating, is under review after “violations of Special Use Permit conditions.”
Concerns were raised at the Planning Commission back in 2020 that the building might be too small and the parking lot too crowded to sustain the sort of increase the bar was requesting. At the time, staff confirmed there were no outstanding violations of the restaurant’s permits despite objections raised by neighbors, but the staff report from 2020 notes that the city has relaxed some of its regulations as a result of the pandemic.
While the restaurant owners had requested permission to have live outdoor entertainment, the staff report noted that only indoor live entertainment was allowed.
According to the report:
Indoor live entertainment is permitted from 4:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m., consistent with the noise ordinance. Outdoor amplified music in the form of background music is permitted from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., consistent with the noise ordinance. No live outdoor music is allowed at any time.
Tony LaColla, Land Use Services division chief, said outdoor live entertainment is one of the reasons the bar is being brought back to the Planning Commission for an SUP review.
“The Special Use Permit for this business is being docketed because of dozens of neighborhood complaints and multiple violations of SUP conditions which include citations related to operating hours, outdoor live entertainment, and noise,” LaColla wrote.
The permit review is scheduled for the Planning Commission meeting on Thursday, March 30.
Photo via Hops N Shine/Facebook
Landini Brothers (115 King Street) plans on converting a neighboring property at 113 King Street into an exclusive three-story members-only area by the end of spring/beginning of summer, the restaurant’s owner tells ALXnow.
Noe Landini says that the final permit approvals with the City are pending but to expect an 18-week construction schedule. The property at 113 King Street is the former longtime home of The Silver Parrot jewelry shop, which closed in 2021, and the America! shop.
“For the members-only club and Landini’s, we will now be able to do 100% private events,” Landini told ALXnow. “That, for us, is going to be a game-changer. I’m very excited about the plan: the space. I’m anxious to get it going.”
The expansion means that Landini Brothers will have to go through thick walls that are more than 200 years old.
“We are going to break through the foundation wall between Landini’s and the old Silver Parrot space,” Landini said. “We’re going to break through that four-foot-thick stone wall to connect the Landini dining room to the new space.”
The Italian restaurant has increased its footprint numerous times since opening on the first floor of 115 King Street in 1979. In 1983, the city approved a special use permit (SUP) request for the restaurant to operate on the second floor of 115 King Street, and it expanded to the first floor of 117 King Street in 1999, and then to the second floor of 117 King Street in 2002. In 2009, the restaurant opened up the third floor of 115 King Street — as well as the second and third floors of 113 King Street for the first iteration of the members-only club, which now boasts more than 350 members.
Landini recently signed a 40-year lease on the new 2,267-square-foot space, and that it will have a mahogany bar, custom-made leather “Sinatra” booths, a record player with a record library and antiques from around the world.
“We have a lot of very cool museum-quality exhibits and artifacts that I want to remain kind of a secret just to create a little curiosity,” Landini said. “I have some pieces from Mexico, from Italy, and also some Americana exhibit pieces that I’ve been collecting for this purpose.”
Via Google Maps
Updated at 10:45 a.m. Toppers Pizza officially closed its doors at 3827 Mount Vernon Avenue last month and there is now only one of the Wisconsin-style pizza locations left in Virginia.
Toppers opened in 2017 to great fanfare in Arlandria, and was supposed to be the flagship location of a 22-store deal with locations popping up throughout Northern Virginia. In 2018, the second store opened at 6676 Richmond Highway in the Groveton area of Fairfax County, and it remains the only location in the state.
The pizza shop was located in the Del Ray North Shopping Center, which has a number of vacant units and is managed by Finmarc Management, Inc.. In August, ALXnow reported that a plan to redevelop the shopping center was scrapped due to “worsening economic conditions,” and that Finmarc would instead continue leasing on the property.
A Toppers representative said that the company does not have future development plans for the area.
The phone number for the Groveton location is out of order, but the shop at 6676 Richmond Highway is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to midnight.
(Updated 10:55 a.m.) The 100 Very Best Restaurant list is back from Washingtonian and it features two Alexandria spots.
The list, formerly limited only to sit-down restaurants, now includes carryout, pop-ups and food trucks. Both Alexandria locations, though, are restaurants in the traditional sense.
The first is Nasime, a Japanese restaurant at 1209 King Street.
In their review, Washingtonian described Nasime as “one of the most inspired–and inspiring–dining experiences around unfolds in this sliver of an Old Town storefront.” Praising the single seven-course menu featuring Japanese short rib, bonito and more paired with sake and Japanese highballs.
The second is Thompson Italian, which has a location at 1024 King Street and one at 124 N. Washington Street in Falls Church, which features an array of Italian dishes from gnocchi to squid ink bucatini and tagliatelle.
Image via Nasime Japanese Restaurant/Facebook
When it comes to city permitting: it pays to play it safe.
Old Town restaurant Village Brauhaus (710 King Street) is going back through the city review process to double-check that it’s still alright to open a rooftop dining area after the restaurant changed ownership.
The rooftop expansion was previously approved in November 2021, but the restaurant changed ownership last November. Now, the rooftop expansion is heading back to the Board of Architectural Review (BAR) for reapproval of the rooftop plans on Wednesday, Feb. 15.
An employee at Village Brauhaus said the restaurant is hoping to get the rooftop extension up and running before this summer.
“The rooftop dining area will include a covered bar serving area and retractable canopy,” the application said. “The serving area and canopy will be set back from the front facade at a distance far enough as not to be highly visible from the sidewalk across the street.”