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Chadwicks owner Trae Lamond (on right) with general manager Sean Hall (staff photo by James Cullum)

Chadwicks (203 Strand Street) is about to get really busy.

From now until mid-August, it’s the strong season for the unpretentious Old Town staple that has graced the Alexandria waterfront since 1979. From the menu to decor, not much changes in the restaurant/bar (except a recent price hike) as owner Trae Lamond keeps his proverbial ship afloat through a gradually evolving seashore.

Chadwicks was once one of Alexandria’s only bars along the Potomac River, but over the last several years has been joined by BARCA Pier & Wine BarVola’s Dockside Grill, Ada’s on the River, Virtue Feed & Grain, among others. But there’s something to be said for a reliably good cheeseburger with a cold beer, as last year owner Trae Lamond and his team of 30 full and part-time employees took home the Chamber ALX’s Overall Business of the Year award.

Lamond is a 1999 graduate of T.C. WIlliams High School (now Alexandria City High School), and moved back home after getting a degree in history and art from James Madison University. Lamond started working as a bartender at Chadwicks in 2004, and then bought the business in 2015.

This week, ALXnow sat down with Lamond and his general manager Sean Hall to discuss the latest.

ALXnow: What’s the enduring attraction of Chadwicks? How have you kept it going all these years?

Lamond: I think it’s just the way we treat people. We don’t put on airs that we’re something fancier than we are. We are a home away from home for half of Old Town. The food is comfort food for the most part. We’re not going to offer you fillet of puffer fish with a tweezered-on microgreen, or whatever. We’re cheeseburgers and buffalo wings. We’re what you want and we’re not overcomplicating it. We’re just trying to be consistent and giving you what you’re looking for.

ALXnow: Post-pandemic, what are your main challenges now?

Lamond: Honestly, for a while things were in flux. Now it’s about putting butts in seats and keeping costs down, and costs are hitting us pretty high all over the place. One of the parts of us being the neighborhood friendly place is that we’ve always been priced a little bit below everybody else. It is very hard to do that and we held off for a long time, and basically took a bit of a hit as we were coming out of the worst of the pandemic.

COVID allowed for a reset mentality where I used to be like, “Oh, boohoo, I wish X, Y and Z was better.” Now it’s like, okay, when all of a sudden, you know, there’s sunny day flooding on Prince Street, I don’t care. Like, I care, but I used to feel like it was the worst possible thing that could happen.

ALXnow: The flooding on the waterfront no longer dampens your spirits?

Lamond: On the record, the city needs to fix the flood mitigation plan instantly. But yeah, it’s not the end of the world. It’s all about perspective. When you’re faced with what everyone thinks is like, holy smokes, maybe the end of small businesses in America. Restaurants were  hit so hard, and we came through that.

ALXnow: When did you raise your prices?

Hall: Early 2022. Prices were just skyrocketing. Sourcing things was tough for everything. Chicken wings and buffalo wings were very hard to find. So, we had to find whole new sources to get things, figure out what’s going to work for what we’re trying to put out. It wasn’t everything at once, but we consistently had to hunt down products to keep putting out something that people want. And it would be more expensive every time. It was like they were discontinuing things just to raise the prices later on. It really was a struggle. We’ve struggled with not raising prices for a long time and basically Trae didn’t want to do it. We had some heated discussions about it and finally he relented.

ALXnow: How did your customers feel about that? How dramatic was the price increase?

Lamond: Not that dramatic. A dollar here, 50 cents there. The most drastic was the crab cake sandwich. The price of crab more than doubled, and we’re not going to make a bad crab cake sandwich. We had to ask ourselves whether we wanted to take it off the menu or raise the price $5.

Hall: A lot of customers noticed the price increases. Not too many were upset about it because prices went up at restaurants across the board.

ALXnow: What’s the development around the waterfront mean for you? Is it a good thing to have all this local competition, or does it siphon away business?

Lamond: I think it’s all been very good for us. In the 200 block of Strand Street all we used to have was a gun shop, a gravel parking lot and warehouses. There was a strip mall that was at best three-quarters full, and Big Wheel Bikes.  We were the only restaurant and there was no reason to come here except for us. Seriously. Now, people want to go to Ada’s or BARCA, and they want to see what what’s going on down here.

Hall: Before we were a hidden gem. Now we’re along the path.

ALXnow: Seeing how far the waterfront development has come the last decade, what do you think about future development 10 or 20 years down the road?

Lamond: That’s what’s fantastic and frustrating about Chadwicks. We’re not going to all of a sudden get out the white tablecloths and replace all of our thoroughbred bartenders with mixologists. We’re just going to stay who we are. Our bartender is not going to make you a frilly lilac whiskey with bourbon smash, or whatever. What are we gonna do? We’re not going to reinvent anything. We’re just going to show up, open the place, keep welcoming people in.

It’s comforting to know that we’re the place in Old Town that can get away with it. Twenty years from now, I imagine our number one item is going to be a cheeseburger. Our bar is going to be one of the busiest bars on the waterfront. We’re going to be the only late night show in town unless someone else tries to wedge in on that.

ALXnow: There’s a long-running conversation on creating a Business Improvement District in Old Town. What do you think about it?

Lamond: I’m a big supporter of a BID. The government knows how to govern, but they don’t know how to run a small business. That’s why we need a BID to push business development, guided by us… Chadwicks is a very large building and we’d be paying $150 a month. I can afford that to try and put more butts in my seats. If it doesn’t work out then we can get rid of it.  Two, three years into this, if it’s a huge wash and 60% of businesses don’t want it, it’s over.

ALXnow: Do you envision opening more Chadwicks locations? 

Lamond: The idea of opening 20 more Chadwicks and becoming a mogul, I have no interest in that. Our game plan has been about consistency. What do you want? Here’s the burgers and french fries. We are as accessible as it comes, and our 99% of our focus goes into making sure that customers have a good experience at the restaurant, their food is cooked properly. The place is clean. We’re gifted with not having to reinvent ourselves every five years. We can just keep improving.

Hall: I think it says a lot about us that we’ve had so much long tenured staff for so long. We met our wives here and we’ve worked with our family members and friends. It’s an institution and it’s gonna be here forever.

Heidi DeuPree and Keith Harmon canoeing down Union Street in Old Town, Friday, October 29, 2021. (staff photo by James Cullum)

If you think it floods a lot in Old Town now, just wait until 2050.

During a City Council meeting earlier this week, Matthew Landes, division chief for project implementation, said current projections estimate a two-foot increase in sea elevation, meaning the city will need to install some type of flood mitigation if it wants to keep Old Town from being consistently underwater.

Landes presented the City Council with flood mitigation plans complete with a bulkhead along the river and pumping stations.

The plan is somewhat scaled down from earlier plans$100 million doesn’t go quite as far as it used to.

“The budget allocated, $100 million, was determined not to be enough to develop all of the goals of the original plan,” Landes said.

Without any changes, however, Landes said flooding in Old Town will get more frequent.

“Impacts will become more severe with increasing frequency and intensity,” Landes said. “By 2050 we anticipate, at a moderate climate change projection, about a two-foot rise in sea level elevation so our lowest-lying areas will be more frequently affected.”

Terry Suehr, director of the Department of Project Implementation, said the “bathtub” shape of the waterfront necessitates the inclusion of pumping stations.

“I know a lot of people, including myself, wish we didn’t have to use pumps,” Suehr said. “Unfortunately, more and more communities are realizing that for stormwater management we are going to have to use pumps. We have a very low-lying area. The waterfront area is all fill, it’s lower than the natural surrounding area, so it creates a bit of a bathtub there. The only way we we can get it out of the bathtub is to pump.”

Waterfront flood mitigation cost-based option 1 (photo via City of Alexandria)
Flooding on lower King Street in Old Town, October 29, 2021. (staff photo by James Cullum)

After years of planning, the flood mitigation plan for Alexandria’s waterfront is making some progress.

The Waterfront Implementation Program is heading to a public hearing for procurement and proposals on Tuesday, May 23 — the next major step along the costly road toward getting a new bulkhead and other waterfront infrastructure built.

A presentation in the city docket said the goals of the project are to mitigate the frequent tidal, riverine and stormwater flooding that plagues the city’s waterfront. The plan is to replace the aging and failing shoreline infrastructure where possible and improve public amenities.

The presentation indicated the plan will come in a few phases. First is a $100 million portion of the project dedicated to “Hybrid Bulkhead and Landscape Based Flood Protection.” The project includes a map of where a bulkhead will run along the waterfront, with a section of Waterfront Park sitting just outside of that.

Three proposals have been received with staff recommending negotiations with construction company Skanska and engineering consultant JMT.

Authorization of an agreement is scheduled for June 27, though the presentation says that doesn’t mean the city is committing to a specific design.

According to the project’s website, the goal is to start construction in spring 2025 to be completed by spring 2027.

Phase 1 of the Waterfront Implementation Project (image via City of Alexandria)
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Sandbags piled up outside a business in Old Town (staff photo by James Cullum)

The National Weather Service has issued a Coastal Flood Watch for Alexandria, Arlington and D.C.

The Coastal Flood Watch will go into effect from midnight to 7 a.m. on Saturday (April 29).

NWS forecasts a 100% chance of rain Friday night, and says to expect up to one foot of “inundation above ground level” in low-lying areas due to tidal flooding. The weather service predicts a 60% chance of rain after 2 p.m. Saturday, and an 80% chance of rain all day Sunday.

“Water is expected to approach buildings near King Street and Union Street (in Old Town),” NWS said in the advisory. “Tides two-and-a-half feet above normal (are expected).”

Alexandria’s Potomac River waterfront in Old Town is prone to flooding, and high tide is at around 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 a.m.

“If travel is required, allow extra time as some roads may be closed,” NWS advised. “Do not drive around barricades or through water of unknown depth. Take the necessary actions to protect flood-prone property.”


Work has started on a new waterfront destination: the permanent home for the Tall Ship Providence.

A release from Maurisa Potts, founder and CEO of Spotted MP Marketing and Public Relations, said construction is starting this month along the waterfront on infrastructure to support the Senator John Warner Maritime Heritage Center, a floating maritime center being built in Baltimore.

Later in the month, Potts said the center will be floated down the river from Baltimore to Alexandria where it will be permanently installed at Waterfront Park (1A Prince Street).

“The Maritime Heritage Center will feature a hundred-foot-long floating dock where Providence will tie up, and two cottages, which will house our Education Center, Naval History Theater, Ticket Office and Gift Shop,” Potts said.

The Providence, built in 1976, has been a regular feature along Alexandria’s waterfront since 2019, and while docked at the maritime center it will host historical tours, public sailing events, private charters and more.

Additional amenities, like public bathrooms and side piers for other boats, were cut from the project back in 2021.

The release is shared below:

Alexandria and the region will soon celebrate the arrival of the Senator John Warner Maritime Heritage Center, Home Port of Tall Ship Providence. The Ship is a reproduction of the original Providence, the first ship authorized by the Continental Congress to serve in the Continental Navy. The 18th-century reproduction, will have a new home on Old Town’s waterfront in Waterfront Park. The Maritime Heritage Center is currently being constructed in Baltimore at Cianbro, a marine construction company. Members of the Tall Ship Providence Foundation Board of Directors, recently visited the construction location of where the Maritime Museum is being constructed.

Waterside construction and preparation will kick off the first week in April and will include land side work ranging from installing utilities, demolition of existing pilings, and pier installation. In mid-to-late April, the Maritime Heritage Center will float down the river from Baltimore to Old Town Alexandria, where it will be permanently installed at Waterfront Park. The Maritime Heritage Center will feature a hundred-foot-long floating dock where Providence will tie up, and two cottages, which will house our Education Center, Naval History Theater, Ticket Office and Gift Shop.

Providence was built for the American Bicentennial celebration in 1976 and has appeared in a number of tall ship festivals and several movies, including two of the Pirates of the Caribbean films. The Tall Ship Providence Foundation was founded in August of 2017 to purchase and restore the ship and serve as a floating museum. The ship made its debut in Old Town Alexandria in 2019. The Foundation plans to open for tours mid-June during Alexandria’s Portside Festival. Once open, Providence will offer historical tours, public sails, specialty sails, private charters and venue rentals.

Rendering for proposed Cooper Mill development at 10 Duke Street (courtesy image)

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.

A woman was robbed of her wallet in the 100 block of King Street on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. (via Google Maps)

A woman was robbed of her wallet in the 100 block of King Street in Old Town early Sunday morning (Dec. 4), according to Alexandria Police.

The incident was reported at around 4:45 a.m. near the waterfront, hours after thousands of people attended the annual Holiday Boat Parade of Lights on the Potomac River.

The woman was not injured and no weapon was used in the incident, although police provided no information on the suspect.

Anyone with information on this incident is asked to call the APD non-emergency number, 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.

Via Google Maps


Santa Claus will ride into Old Town on the King Street Trolley this Saturday night (Nov. 19) for the annual holiday tree lighting ceremony in front of City Hall.

The party starts at 6 p.m. at Market Square (301 King Street), where Santa and Mayor Justin Wilson will do their part to reduce seasonal darkness by lighting the 40,000 lights on the city’s 40-foot-tall holiday tree.

Town Crier Ben Fiore-Walker will cap off the event, which will include a program of holiday carols.

Admission is free, and the event will occur rain or shine.

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Rendering of the unit block of King Street with street closure (via City of Alexandria)

The King Street Pedestrian Zone was officially expanded to reach Waterfront Park on Saturday (Nov. 12).

Council voted unanimously and without discussion on the permanent conversion of the unit block of King Street and the northern portion of Strand Street.

The City shut down the 100 block of King Street in 2020 to help small businesses with outdoor seating during the pandemic. The unit block of King Street and Strand Street were later added to the pilot.

A survey of community feedback on the closure found that 91% (of 1,853 survey respondents) rated the pedestrian zone as very positive, and that 89% of wanted it to be permanent.

The Waterfront Commission also approved the plan, and suggested to City Council the following “enhancements”:

  • Strengthening temporary barricades to provide for the safety and security of pedestrians in these blocks until full implementation of street improvements
  • Installing a sign on Strand Street at the intersection of Prince Street identifying “no outlet” or “dead end” and noting limited parking available on Strand Street
  • Closing Strand Street at Prince Street and designating the metered parking spaces adjacent to Waterfront Park as Handicapped Parking and City Service Vehicles Only. Continue to allow vehicle access to the private garage at 110 S. Union Street. This would provide additional parking near the waterfront for disabled individuals, and would discourage traffic from drivers looking for limited parking in the 100 block of Strand Street
  • Designating specific resources to provide appropriate City maintenance and security of the pedestrian zone
  • Installing pavement markings on Strand Street clearly identifying the turnaround and no parking areas on Strand Street

Conversion costs will be minimal, said City Manager Jim Parajon in a note to Council.

“If the closure is approved, there will be minimal costs associated with updating parking signage and refreshing striping,” Parajon wrote. “All of these costs can be handled with existing budgets. Also, since there will be four metered spaces eliminated along the Waterfront Park to provide turnaround space and parking for police, this will total approximately $8,000 per year, or $666/month.”


The kitschy I Love You sign in Waterfront Park is no more, replaced with a holiday tree, but the big news this week is the announcement of a new art project that will replace the tree early next year.

A new project by New York City-based artist Nina Cooke John called “Two Boxes of Oranges and Admonia Jackson” will be installed in March 2023 and will remain in place until November.

The project features steel beams meant to evoke the series of 18th-century ships discovered in Old Town excavations between 2015-2018.

“Viewed from the park, visitors stand on the outside of the hull with a view onto one side of history,” said the City’s Department of Arts, Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities. “Once inside, a fuller story is revealed. Visitors move in, through and between the installation reading the text on the ground and touching the text on the steel. Light traces the profiles, reinforcing their form and allowing for a different experience at night.”

Along with the beams there will be pained images of herring, coconuts, gin, a woman named “Jane Tailor” featured in a ship manifest, and other notable parts of the city’s nautical history.


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