It might take years for Alexandria’s economy to recover from the impact of the pandemic, but there are plenty of developments down the road.
Micro weddings, new businesses and tourism expectations this year were just a few of the topics covered by Visit Alexandria in its annual membership meeting last week. While offset by positive news of business developments along the waterfront, the meeting was full of sobering statistics on drastically reduced revenues in nearly all sectors of the local economy.
“This turn of a new year, and especially the launch of the vaccine process provides new reasons to be hopeful,” said Visit Alexandria CEO Patricia Washington. “They (vaccines) recharge our batteries for the important work ahead.”
“While some couples have decided to postpone our wedding, others are embracing the opportunity to have an intimate ultra romantic day,” said Claire Mouledoux, Visit Alexandria’s vice president of communications. “Alexandria is full of fantastic spots which we are promoting… like secret gardens, like the ones you see here at Carlyle House and Rectory on Princess Street… and the steps of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial.”
Vito Fiore, Visit Alexandria’s vice president of marketing and research, said that Alexandria’s hotels took a 72% loss in revenue per available room for the last six months of 2020. He said that while only 5% of the U.S. population plan to travel this month, 60% have a high degree of excitement about traveling later in the year, according to a study by Destination Analysts.
“The Deloitte Industry Outlook said that six-to-10 retail executives expect recovery in the next one to two years, but a quarter see a longer timeline of two to five years,” Fiore said.
While the recovery from the pandemic might take years, Mouledoux said that there are more than 30 restaurants that recently opened and are in development this year, including Ada’s On The River, Vía Volcán Coffee and Emmy Squared Pizza.
When Monte Durham’s contract with TLC expired in March, he realized he needed to do something else. The star of Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta was told that the network would be going dark because of the pandemic, and Durham quickly decided to go back to his roots as a hairstylist and open a boutique in Old Town.
“My goal is to inspire, educate, and hopefully motivate people to go to the next level with their look,” Durham told ALXnow.
Durham is opening Salon Monte this Saturday, September 12. At 6:30 p.m., Mayor Justin Wilson is scheduled to cut a ribbon for the 825-square-foot salon at 210 S. Union Street. That’s next door to Hotel Indigo and across the street from the Union Street Public House.
Why go to Salon Monte? It’s simple, Durham says.
“We’ve got location and valet parking,” he said. “The big hubbub about this is that it’s new. It’s fresh, it’s invigorating. You’re going to be serviced totally differently.”
The bridal image consultant, who lives in Belle Haven, was filming Say Yes to the Prom in New York City when the pandemic struck, and by mid-March was back home when he got the news that the network was going dark.
“In the midst of all of that, our contracts expired,” Durham said. “Are they going to reinvent the wheel? Who knows. So, while we’re waiting on that, I thought, ‘You know what? Ten years of traveling and going back and forth, if we don’t film again, what can I do? Well, after all I am a hairstylist.”
Durham is still appearing at wedding events, including the upcoming Alexandria Wedding Showcase this Sunday, September 13. He’s hired a hair director and a client service director to work with him in his boutique.
“When a father looks at the price of a wedding dress and says, ‘She’s only gonna wear it one day,’ I go, ‘Okay. I want you to ask your wife where her wedding dress is,'” Durham said. “They always know exactly.”
The salon was far from finished a week before the opening, but Durham said when finished it will include his private studio with a large portrait of his style icon Jackie Kennedy, shampoo lounges and all of his own personal hair care products.
“Everything in the salon is custom because it’s small,” he said. “The lampshades cost me an arm and a leg, but they look so good.”
Beyer: We Must Protect the U.S. Postal Service — “I have been in touch with local postal officials, who express their commitment to ensuring the timely delivery and return of all ballots. This could be an issue in many parts of the country, however, and I will be working with my colleagues to exercise constant vigilance and ensure that elections are fair and safe. My Northern Virginia colleague, U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, serves as the chair of the Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations, and with his tireless leadership the House will do all it can to fix these problems and restore operations and service at USPS.” [Gazette]
Three City Parks Scheduled for Improvements — “Projects at or near Powhatan, Hooffs Run, and Brenman Parks to occur over next two months.” [Zebra]
City Holding Virtual 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony Online — “Alexandria’s ceremony is prerecorded and virtual to avoid a large gathering during the pandemic. It will include remarks from Mayor Justin Wilson, City Manager Mark Jinks, and representatives from the Alexandria Fire Department, Police Department, and Sheriff’s Office. There will also be a “Return to Quarters” bell-ringing ceremony.” [Patch]
Alexandria Wedding Showcase Goes Virtual — “Tune in virtually on Sunday, Sept. 13 to hear from a variety of vendors on trends, wedding industry changes, and what you need to know while planning your wedding during a pandemic.” [Alexandria Living]
Carlyle Concert Series Starts Friday — “Enjoy the Carlyle Farmers Market while you attend the Concert! Alcohol is available for purchase at select vendor stands and bar as well BYOB-Bring Your Own Beverage will be observed in designated area.” [Facebook]
Harvest Moon Yoga Tonight in Del Ray — “Shine on Harvest Moon! Free outdoor yoga in Del Ray returns every Wed. Sept. 9 – Oct. 14, 6:00 – 7:00 pm at the Del Ray Psych & Wellness lot, 1900 Mt. Vernon Avenue (Corner of E. Bellefonte) in the Heart of Del Ray.” [Facebook]
Today’s Weather — “Cloudy early. Scattered thunderstorms developing later in the day. High 81F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Scattered thunderstorms in the evening, then mainly cloudy overnight with thunderstorms likely. Heavy and torrential downpours at times. Low 72F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 80%.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Dog Walker and Pet Sitter — “Are you a veterinary technician who has been pet-sitting under the table to supplement your income? Have you worried about your lack of insurance or back-up plan if you got sick? If so, then joining Cat Nanny Jess might be the answer to all your worries!” [Indeed]
Alexandria Man Has Washington Football Team Name Trademarks — “Phillip Martin McCaulay, 61, has made dozens of submissions to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for almost a dozen potential names and other iterations of them.” [WTOP]
Police Department Celebrates 150th Birthday — “150 years of exemplary service to the citizens of Alexandria! Happy anniversary to the Alexandria Police Department founded on this day, July 15, 1870.” [Facebook]
Alexandria, Arlington Apply for Grants to Fund MV Trail Widening, King Street Improvements — “Arlington County and the City of Alexandria are applying for a pair of grants that would bring significant changes to the Mt. Vernon Trail and a portion of King Street near Fairlington.” [ARLnow]
The Heritage Development Gets Smaller — “The original proposed plan included 842 new units with parking underneath the park area. After receiving feedback and concerns about the height and mass of the original plan, the proposed number of units has been reduced to 777, with 774 parking spaces underneath the new structures.” [Alexandria Living]
Carpenter’s Shelter Gets $15K Donation — “Carpenter’s Shelter has not stopped serving the homeless during the pandemic. Recently, the organization received a $15,000 donation from the nonprofitAmerican Water Charitable Foundation and Virginia American Water.” [Zebra]
New Job: Team Member — “Toastique in Old Town, Alexandria and is seeking team members to help create smoothies, gourmet toasts, and run the POS system. Employees will be joining a team to create a fun, clean, fresh environment for a gourmet toast and juice bar in bustling Old Town! No specific skills or experience needed, but applicant must be excited to interact with customers and serve healthy, fresh food to the community.” [Indeed]
Governor Announces Moratorium on Rent Evictions — “The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia has granted my request for a temporary moratorium on all eviction proceedings in the Commonwealth through June 28–this action will help keep thousands of Virginia families in their homes amid the ongoing public health crisis.” [Facebook]
Alexandria’s Noah Lyles Reaching National Stardom — “Lyles, who turned 22 last week, might be on the cusp of his own full bloom, from track and field’s next big thing to the face of the sport in America.” [Washington Post]
Frank Fannon Named Living Legend of Alexandria — “From his volunteer position at Agenda: Alexandria, long-time resident and chairman Frank Fannon stays on top of issues that matter to the residents of the city without directly taking sides.” [Zebra]
Office of Historic Alexandria Offering Survey Over Digital Program — “Please take a few minutes to fill out this survey about what you would like to see from OHA digitally in the coming months.” [Facebook]
Port City Brewing Co. Hosting BeerYoga — “BeerYoga classes return virtually with Melody Abella starting weekly this June! It’s a donation-based class and 100% of the money raised from the June classes will go to AGLA – Serving Northern Virginia LGBTQ and Allies in honor of PRIDE month.” [Facebook]
Video: Bishop Ireton High School Creating Diversity & Inclusion Council — “Good morning from the Bishop Ireton Head of School, Kathleen McNutt, on Monday, June 8, 2020 featuring a special message about racial justice and Bishop Ireton’s plans to create a Diversity & Inclusion Council.” [Facebook]
Alexandria Library to Offer Curbside Service — “Residents may be able to start picking up previous holds curbside starting, likely, on June 15.” [Alexandria Living]
Hilton Alexandria Mark Center Hosting Weddings for $1,000 — ” Wedding must take place by December 31, 2020. Offer does not include taxes or service charge. Offers cannot be combined or transferred. Call your romance specialist and director of romance and catering Fatima Ayari at 703.845.7667 for details.” [Facebook]
New Job: Assistant General Manager at Old Navy — “You’re responsible for driving profitable sales growth through all aspects of the store including; customer and product operations, merchandising, and talent development. You are responsible for supporting the execution of the store strategy to achieve performance goals.” [Indeed]
Mayor Marries Couple in Socially Distant Ceremony — “Alanis sang about rain on your wedding day. I’m not sure she envisioned THIS. It was such an honor to put on real pants (first time in weeks!), grab my mask and walk to Parkfairfax to marry a wonderful couple whose original plans were scrambled. Congrats!” [Facebook]
‘Mind The Mat’ Hosting Virtual Meditations at 9 a.m. — “Join MtM Monday-Friday mornings for this free 15 minute guided mediation to start your day off right.” [Facebook]
Volunteer Alexandria Hosting Responsiveness Class — “Be prepared, not scared. Know what to do until help arrives. Two classes are available: Tuesday, April 21, 6 to 10 p.m. and Saturday April 25, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. You’ll learn how to recognize violent activities, provide immediate rescue tactics, and report them to 9-1-1 efficiently.” [Facebook]
Del Ray Psyche & Wellness Starts 10-Day Challenge — “The purpose to continue to implement strategies and habits that will increase positive well-being, during the pandemic and throughout life. Each person who participates for all 10 days and comments on the post will receive a special gift from Del Ray Psych. If you wish to participate, please join our group below and comment on the post, ‘I’m in!'” [Facebook]
West End Business Association Hosting Fitness Webinar — Alan Gulledge, the founder of TriFit Evolution will discuss the how exercise can boost physical and mental health, establishing an effective fitness routine and working out with minimal equipment at home. The presentation will be conducted from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and costs $5. [WEBA]
‘Meggrolls’ Gets Southern Living Magazine Mention — “It’s an extraordinary time. Thousands of hard-working small business owners are digging deeper than they’ve ever thought they were able, to find a safe path through a seemingly insurmountable journey. It’s an incredible feeling to know that others are so willing to help. Thank you @southernlivingmag for sharing the word that Meggrolls is open for businessand we’re gonna stay that way as long as we’re able❤️❤️” [Facebook]
Jack Taylor’s Alexandria Toyota Reveals Raffle Grand Prize — “Need SOMETHING to Look Forward To??!! YOU can STILL Enter our GRAND PRIZE Jack Taylor’s Alexandria Toyota Raffle to W-I-N $25,000 OR a 2020 Toyota RAV-4
$100 for a CHANCE to WIN…DRAWING L-I-V-E Online MAY 30th at 8pm. Watch for Details on How To Tune-In! All funds collected HELP Send T.C. Williams High School Class of 2020 Kids to COLLEGE.” [Facebook]
Sen. Ebbin Hosting Virtual Town Hall Tonight — “Join us for AYD’s virtual town hall on April 21st at 7 pm with Virginia State Senator Adam Ebbin interviewed by AYD President Dan Matthews on the impact of COVID-19 on Virginia Legislation.” [Facebook]
Alexandria Library Increases Online Music Catalog — “Freegal Music is a digital music service offering downloads and streaming. Through a partnership, city library branches can offer the service to patrons for free. All that is needed for access is a library card.” [Zebra]
ACPS School Nurses Send Message to Students in Photo Collage — “This is so cool. Thank you to some of our frontline people. Nurses are awesome.” [Facebook]
City Releases Two Week Repaving Schedule — “Some overnight work on heavily traveled streets may be necessary. Residents on affected streets are notified in advance and temporary ‘No Parking” signs are displayed. Heavy equipment is used and there will be some noise that carries to surrounding streets.” [Facebook]
Kim’s Cleaners Donates Masks to Police — “Today Officer Ignacio stopped by Kim’s Cleaners in Old Town to pick up 50 facemasks from Mrs. Kim! Every bit helps and is appreciated! #socialdistancing” [Twitter]
Landmark Mall Redevelopment Uncertain — “An official from Howard Hughes Corp., a Texas-based company that owns the 51-acre property and has been working on redevelopment plans for several years, said in response to email inquiries from Alexandria Living Magazine: “Sorry, no update for now, but we’ll let you know when we have a good update.” [Alexandria Living]
Volunteer Alexandria Needs Volunteers — “For those who are eligible to volunteer, we encourage to take measures and bring their own sanitizer, wipes, and keep distance from other people.” [Volunteer Alexandria]
Alexandria Restaurant Partners Donating 50% of Gift Cards to Staff — “Purchase a gift card today and 50% of all sales will be donated directly to an ARP employee relief fund. Plus, you’ll receive a 20% bonus gift card with all gift card purchases of $25 or more as a thank you for your support. Gift cards can used immediately at both Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap and Mia’s Italian Kitchen.” [Facebook]
City Asks Spring Cleaners to Leave Big Stuff Alone — “It is certainly a tempting time of year to start “spring cleaning” but we ask you to help protect our workers and not overwhelm the waste stream. Please hold on to bulky or excess household items and help us reduce excess waste generation as much as possible during this time.” [Facebook]
Inova Assures Safe Conditions to Deliver Babies in Hospitals — “We’re still delivering bundles of joy to families at Inova every day. We understand you might be concerned if you’re expecting in these rapidly changing times. But, please be assured Inova is leading the way to help you bring your little one, or ones, into this world as safely as possible.” [Facebook]
Alexandria Wedding Showcase Pushed to June 28 — “One lucky couple will win 250,000 Marriott Bonvoy Travel Points, good for a week-long honeymoon to one of thousands of locations worldwide from The Westin Alexandria Old Town.” [Alexandria Wedding Showcase]
Old Newspaper Clipping Documents Spanish Flu in Alexandria — “Spanish influenza is increasing in the city at an alarming rate. There are few houses in the city where there is not a case of the disease… Doctors are working overtime but are performing their duties heroically. Druggists are doing their share for the general good filling prescriptions.” [Facebook]
VIP Alexandria Magazine Going Digital in April — “Does this mean we are going ALL DIGITAL? HECK NO! We LOVE print! And VIP Alexandria Magazine will be back, in your beautiful hands, by May when we release our Annual Health & Beauty Issue! Hang in there, Alexandria! We’re all in this together!” [Facebook]
Del Ray Creates Stuffed Animal ‘Zoofari’ — “The idea is for homeowners to put out stuffed animals in their front yards, porches, trees, flower boxes, gardens, and places where they can be seen. The kids and parents can then walk around the neighborhood locating them and checking off, creating a safe Zoofari scavenger hunt walk.” [Zebra]
Planning on getting hitched in Northern Virginia? The upcoming 2020 Alexandria Wedding Showcase will feature dozens of vendors from throughout the region to help you and your beloved on the most important of days.
Alexandria resident Monte Durham, host of TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta,” is headlining the event by hosting a VIP brunch and a fashion show, which will feature dresses, tuxedos and hair and makeup by local businesses. Durham plans to open his own salon in Old Town Alexandria later this year.
Last year, Alexandria Living Magazine took over the wedding showcase from Visit Alexandria, the city’s tourism bureau, which started the event in 2016. The event will be held on April 26, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Westin Alexandria Old Town (400 Courthouse Square) and will feature more than 60 local vendors, including florists, caterers and dressmakers.
“Last year, there were more than 450 people who attended the showcase,” Beth Lawton, co-founder and publisher of Alexandria Living, told ALXnow. “There’s no deadline, but we’re selling out quickly.”
“We’re really focusing on making this an experience,” Lawton added. “One of the salons is talking about doing consultations, we have a fitness studio doing one-on-one meetings and a lot of our booths are going to be offering prizes of their own. So, you’ll be able to possibly win a lot of free stuff for your wedding, which is great because the average wedding costs more than $30,000.”
As far as prizes go, the Westin is giving away a grand prize of 250,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, which can be used toward plane tickets, hotel stays and more.
“Essentially, a couple who wins this will be able to spend eight nights in France or Hawaii,” Lawton said.
The event will also be featured in the March/April edition of Alexandria Living Magazine, which will be full of wedding-related stories.
“Alexandria is one of the most romantic cities in the world, and this event really shows how the city is a great wedding destination,” Lawton said. “Weddings require so much. You need the food and wine, you need a venue, the dresses, the tuxes, the flowers, hotels for people coming in from out of town, transportation, gifts. There’s just so much that goes into weddings, even small weddings, that it’s not too surprising that there are so many businesses in the area that can support that.”
Tickets for the event are $20 for those who register before April 10, $25 for regular admission, $35 for couples and $50 to also attend the VIP brunch.
Additionally, for those who want to devote their entire weekend to weddings, the Carlyle House will host its free, annual wedding open house from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 25. Couples are invited to meet wedding vendors, tour the facility and talk about getting married at a historic site in the port city.
File photo (top) by James Cullum
APD Officer Saves Man’s Life — “Last month, Alexandria Police Department Lieutenant Mike Kochis responded to a call in the Carlyle area and found an unconscious middle-aged man lying on the sidewalk… The man’s symptoms lined up with an opioid overdose, so Kochis turned the man on his side and sprayed a dose of Narcan into his nose.” [City of Alexandria]
Local Bride Meets Girl Whose Life She Saved — “Sarah Aiken from Alexandria was practicing walking down the pretend aisle in the back of the restaurant in Annapolis before her wedding rehearsal dinner. ‘I looked to the left and saw this family, her blond hair and I knew exactly who they were.’ Fourteen-year-old Kinley Strohl had flown in with her family from Ohio to attend the wedding of the woman who had given her a bone marrow donation seven years ago and saved her life.” [Gazette Packet]
Alexandria Officers Unite Cultures at T.C. — “They’re more than just cops. Find out how @AlexandriaVAPD Officers Gary Argueta & Johnny Larios turned a fractious group of @IntlAcademyTCW students into an unstoppable soccer team called Athletico.” [Alexandria City Public Schools, Twitter]
Free Food for Returning Nats Stars — “The owners of Pork Barrel BBQ in Del Ray liked the feeling of winning the World Series so much that they recently announced a special offer. Pork Barrel is offering free food to Washington Nationals stars Stephen Strasburg, Anthony Rendon, and Ryan Zimmerman if they choose to sign new contracts in the nation’s capital.” [Zebra]
Construction Ongoing at Trampoline Park — “Construction is progressing on Get Air Trampoline Park, an indoor recreation and amusement park in the West End of Alexandria at 340 S. Pickett St. Management at Get Air confirmed they do not have an opening date set and they are awaiting approval of permits.” [Alexandria Living]