Get your favorite Italian dish while you can, because A La Lucia will likely close by the end of the year, the restaurant’s owner tells ALXnow.
After more than 20 years in business, the popular Italian restaurant at 315 Madison Street will not relocate when Carr Companies starts construction on two acres of redevelopment for their Montgomery Center property in Old Town North.
Owner Mehran Nayeri was supposed to close by the end of this month, but shopping center management recently told him that they, The Art League and other tenants can stay in business at least until the end of the year.
“We’ve had a great ride over here,” Nayeri said. “But it’s time to move on. We had great customers, the best, and they supported us through the pandemic, which was amazing.”
Carr Companies bought Montgomery Center for $35 million from MRW Properties Inc. in 2021. The 1970s-era shopping center will eventually be replaced by an eight-story, 350,000-square-foot apartment building with 327 residential units, more than 25,000 square feet of retail and a 13,300-square-foot performance venue.
The intimate, 60-seat restaurant in Old Town North won’t relocate, Nayeri said.
“Now is the time to come and get some Italian food,” Nayeri said. “We’ll be here until we can’t be here anymore.”
Nayeri said that he and his wife are retiring from the restaurant business and likely moving from the area. He also said that the restaurant will have a number of events during the last three months to sell all of its art, furniture and wine.
“The paintings on the walls are by local artists, and we’ll be having an auction this fall to sell them,” Nayeri said. “We’ve had great memories here. It’s been so good.”
Image via Facebook
Target is pressing charges against a Maryland man who allegedly stole nearly $1,500 worth of products in three separate shoplifting incidents, according to a recently released search warrant affidavit.
The 54-year-old suspect allegedly did not scan 47 products totaling $442.42 on Saturday, March 17, and then 108 products totaling $1,040.30 on Sunday, March 18. Police reviewed security footage and found that the man appeared to scan some items in his basket, bag them and then put the bags on top of unscanned items.
On Thursday, April 6, the suspect allegedly made a third attempt but was confronted by a loss prevention employee and “ran away,” according to the search warrant affidavit.
Police reviewed security footage and found that the suspect drove from the store in his wife’s Dodge Caravan with Maryland license plates. Police called the wife, who said that her husband was out shopping and gave them his phone number. Police then received calls from the suspect asking if he could pay for the items.
“(The suspect) apologized and asked if he could come back and pay for the items,” police said in the search warrant affidavit. “However, Target had said they wanted to press charges.”
The suspect was served with a summons at Alexandria Police headquarters on April 16 and charged with petit larceny, which is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine. He goes to court on May 26.
Image via Google Maps
An increase in crime has resulted in the Giant Food store at 3131 Duke Street locking one of its two front doors, as staff say that shoplifting has become a daily occurrence.
“It’s kids, grownups, everybody,” store manager Zaina Calo told ALXnow. “They try to steal fish, and from the whole meat and seafood department, wine. It doesn’t matter. Anything, really.”
Last month, an employee got maced when he confronted a suspected shoplifter. The suspect walked into the store wearing brass knuckles and armed with mace, Calo said. He has not been arrested, but has been banned from the store. Store staff call the police when the suspect arrives, but he leaves before they arrive, she said.
“Shoplifting happens every day,” Calo said. “It’s gotten pretty bad, but honestly it’s getting a lot safer with our door closed, with our hours reduced.”
Changes at the store include reducing store operations by an hour to 10 p.m., limiting the number of items customers can take to self-checkout aisles and locking one of two entrances. Now customers at the store have to walk past checkout counters, the customer service counter and a bank before walking out.
Shoppers at Giant Food stores are now greeted at the front door with the following message from Giant President Ira Kress:
You may notice changes to your checkout experience as you are shopping with us today. Due to a significant increase in crime and theft that we and many other retailers are experiencing across our market area, we have made several changes to our operating procedures to mitigate the impact of theft to our business. We know that these changes may cause some inconvenience or be disruptive to the experience you are used to, and I assure you we are making these changes out of necessity to prioritize the safety of our associates and customers.
We will continue to do everything in our power to ensure you receive an exceptional experience every time you shop with us and on behalf of Giant Food, we appreciate your patience and understanding.
A national 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital chain is looking to open a location in the Shoppes at Foxchase in the West End.
New York City-based Veterinary Emergency Group (VEG) filed a special use permit (SUP) application to open at 4525 Duke Street, which is the current home of Mattress Firm. VEG wants to transform the 5,279-square-foot space into an animal clinic that would be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
“The proposed use is a veterinary hospital operating 24 hours a day,” VEG wrote in its special use permit (SUP) application. “The veterinary hospital will not include boarding.”
The SUP was filed on Feb. 27, and the last day for public comments is March 23 before it goes to the Planning Commission and City Council for final approval. A public notification was also posted on the front door of the business and city planners have confirmed that the address is correct.
VEG has dozens of clinics around the country, and the Alexandria proposal would make it the first location in Virginia.
The proposal includes a complete renovation of the interior of the store with examination rooms, an operating room for surgeries, a lab/pharmacy, workstations, seating nooks for customers, a staff break room, a laundry room and storage areas.
“Emergency is all we do, and that’s why we do it best,” VEG said on its website. “VEG is a true partner with your primary vet, acting as an extension of their practice for after-hours emergency care.”
In its application, VEG anticipates accommodating 15-to-20 customers a day.
Representatives with Mattress Firm did not respond to calls for comment, and aside from the SUP request there is no official notification of whether the store is closing. The property manager for the shopping center’s owner, Global Retail Investors LLC, also did not respond to calls for comment.
Mattress Firm filed for bankruptcy in 2018 and closed hundreds of stores. There are reportedly 2,400 Mattress Firm locations around the country, and other stores in Alexandria are located at 3925 A Richmond Highway in Potomac Yard and at 821 S. Washington Street in Old Town.
No injuries were reported or arrests made after multiple shots were fired in the 200 block of Yale Drive last night.
The Alexandria Police Department was dispatched to a residential area directly behind the Alexandria Commons Shopping Center at around 8:30 p.m. There were between six-to-eight shots reported by multiple callers, and police found shell casings and multiple vehicles struck.
The suspects, described as three young males in dark clothing, fled the scene on foot. No ambulances responded to the scene.
Anyone with information on this incident can call the Alexandria Police Department non-emergency number at 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.
Map via Google Maps
The busy holiday season is coming to a close, but there are ways locals can both get good deals for merchandise in Alexandria and support local businesses moving into a slow season.
Retail shopping tends to hit a fever pitch just before Christmas, but some local business owners said post-holiday shopping can still be a rewarding experience in a very different way.
“You’re going to get the best sales,” said Chris Ouellette from The Old Town Shop (104 S Union Street). “If you’re looking to restock for the next year, this is the time to come and buy holiday merchandise for next year because everything is 50% off and we’re trying to minimize inventory before the new year.”
Alexandria has a fair number of people who go all-out on their holiday decorations, and Ouellette said this is the best time for them to get ahead on next year’s decorations.
“A lot of people are big decorators who want to upgrade for the next year,” Ouellette said. “This is the time to shop.”
Shopping early for holiday decorations is also a boon for local businesses with leftover material on their shelves.
“That’s just merchandise that sits around for another year that isn’t going to sell,” Ouellette said. “Unless you’re The Christmas Attic, Christmas stuff doesn’t usually sell in May or June.”
Frank Kozuch, owner of Whistle Stop Toy & Hobby (1719 Centre Plaza) said sleds are the big seller in the post-Christmas holiday season. Alexandria hasn’t seen substantial snowfall yet this winter, but traditionally sees at least a light dusting in January.
Whistle Stop Toy & Hobby also sells items with a year-round appeal, like board games, Lego sets, and toy rockets. Kozuch said he mixes some newer games in with classics like Monopoly and Clue, but said keeping up with the latest gaming zeitgeist can be time-consuming.
“The problem with games is there are a lot of individual people that create games, so there are hundreds of those types of games and you have to search to buy them individually,” Kozuch. “There are really hundreds, some just produced from someone’s basement.”
The owner of a store in Old Town told ALXnow anonymously that they reached out to other local business owners and compiled a list of things local shoppers should keep in mind:
We talked to locally owned retailers this week about the week after Christmas – a week known for returns and long lines at the register as people use their time off to “correct” gifts that may not have been quite right. Here are some words of advice that our small business community gave:
- Shop! The best way to support us this week is to get out and shop with us.
- Be patient with us if the shop is busy. We have small teams, and they are stretched thin during and after the holidays. Hiring “seasonal” help is usually not possible for a small business whose teams have to have extensive knowledge of the merchandise and are not just capable of standing at a cash register.
- If you loved your gift, spread the word on social media. Tag the small business that it came from!
- Consider doing an exchange rather than a return!
- Do your returns within a week but be sure to check the return policy of the store. Many are unable to return items purchased on sale or only allow exchanges or store credit. One boutique reported that they are unable to take a return on any product that has been opened, as their vendors will not take the item back from them so they would take the full hit on any return of opened product. Remember that the employees working are unable to break return policies (or in some cases their point of sale won’t even allow it).
- If something doesn’t work properly, check first with the manufacturer. There is a difference between a warranty and a return. Some businesses are able to do warranty replacements for some of their brands. Others are told by their suppliers to send the customer directly to them. It really depends on the item and the shop it was purchased from. Don’t expect every retailer to be able to hand you a new item to replace the broken one.
- Small retailers don’t have communications or service departments. When you contact a business via text, chat, google, facebook, Instagram, etc there is likely one person that answers all of those apps. They don’t work 24/7. It could take some time to get a response that.
- Understand that the people behind the business and those in the store are also human. Try to be empathetic. If we have an off day, don’t go immediately to Yelp to leave a bad review. Reach out to us with your experience so that we have a chance to correct it.
- If using one of those visa or amex gift cards to pay, please know how much is available on it before you get to the register. Waiting for you to check an app or call the number on the back of the card will hold up the line, and the card will be declined if we attempt to charge more than what is available on it.
- Please do not ask for price adjustments at a locally owned business.
- Hello and how are you can go a long way.
- Don’t want that thing in your hand? Give it to an employee rather than trying to put it back or leaving it in a random spot in the store.
- Don’t make it a family affair. Small boutiques are… small. Coming in to do business with a trail of five family members will possiblyh fill a small shop and those loved ones spend that time looking uncomfortable and in the way.
- Impact – employee morale. After working during COVID, retail employees are more stressed than ever. Angry and bullying customers impact their stress levels and their desire to work in this industry.
James Cullum contributed to this story
A 13-year-old boy was robbed by a group of males in the 4600 block of Kenmore Avenue on May 12 (Thursday).
The incident occurred at around 4 p.m. near the near Seminary Plaza Shopping Center. The victim was injured in the incident and refused medical attention. A personal item was stolen.
Four males, likely juveniles, committed the offense and did not use weapons, Alexandria Police told ALXnow.
There have been no arrests and the incident remains under investigation.
There have been a number of recent assault by mob incidents in Alexandria. On May 6, a gang of juveniles jumped a 16-year-old male at the Bradlee Shopping Center, and on April 24 four men robbed a man of his wallet in Arlandria.
Anyone with information on this incident is urged to call the Alexandria Police Department at 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.
Connecticut-based pizza chain Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana is expanding to Alexandria.
The 97-year-old company plans on opening in early July at 3231 Duke Street in the Alexandria Commons Shopping Center, according to an email to ALXnow.
Frank Pepe’s, which is widely lauded as a classic old school pizza parlour, is also opening its first location in the region on March 28 in Bethesda, Maryland. The chain offers delivery, and is well known for pizza with a chewy, slightly charred crust.
“It may have taken nearly a century for America’s best pizza to arrive in the DMV, but we are thrilled to finally be here,” said Jennifer Kelly, granddaughter of founder Frank Pepe. “These are our family’s original recipes… We even replicated our signature coal-fired, hand-built brick oven using iron castings from the original restaurant.”
Spokes Etc. reopened at 1506 Belle View Blvd. last Tuesday, making it their sixth open location in Northern Virginia. It has been in Belle View for more than 20 years.
“We really are trying to emphasize helping out the customer,” store manager Ryan Maurer told ALXnow. “First and foremost, we really want to have that really personal relationship. We’re not just here to sell bikes, and 99% of people who work with Spokes ride bikes, they live bikes, and we really pass on our experience to the customers.”
Spokes Etc. is a full-service bike shop where customers can buy new or get old models repaired.
The fire completely gutted the business.
“After further inspection of our unit, we’ve realized that the extent of damage is beyond our initial findings, including some structural issues that need to be dealt with,” the company wrote on Oct. 21, 2019 on Facebook. “We appreciate your patience as we work through the process of re-opening, and we will be re-opening, with a clean, new store to serve the Belle View community!”
The shop is open Tuesday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. They are closed Monday.
The driver of a car ran into the front of the SweetFrog frozen yogurt shop at 3219 Duke Street this afternoon.
The crash, at the Alexandria Commons shopping center, was reported around 2:45 p.m.
A driver in a Subaru hatchback hopped a parking curb and crashed into one of the store’s large front windows, shattering it. Police, firefighters and medics responded to the scene.
The driver was initially said to be injured and was evaluated by paramedics. No injuries were reported inside the store, which was evacuated after the crash.
An Alexandria building inspector was called to the scene to evaluate the building for structural damage.
This is at least the second time a driver ran into a storefront in Alexandria over the past week. Last week a minivan rammed the front of an international grocery store in the Van Dorn Station Shopping Center.