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AUGUST 2021

THE DOWNTOWN ISSUE A TOUR OF SOUTH ROYAL | MOCKTAILS ON THE WATERFRONT | GOODIES RIBBON CUTTING THE DOWNTOWN ISSUE • 1


D E S T I N AT I O N

old town waterfront Kristen Jones, your waterfront specialist. Life is better by the water! Ask me about my recent sales in Robinson Landing, The Oronoco, Harbourside, Fords Landing, Rivergate, The Muse and The Venue.

Washingtonian's Best Real Estate Agent 2018-2021 2021 RealTrends America's Best Real Estate Professionals 703.851.2556 | kristenjones.com | kristen@kristenjones.com | Licensed in VA 109 S. Pitt St, Alexandria, VA 22314 | Equal Housing Opportunity

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FROM THE PUBLISHER This is such a special issue for the VIP family because we are celebrating the individuals who pour their hearts and souls into making Old Town Alexandria such a special place to live, work & play! The people and businesses featured in our Downtown Issue are doing their part to ensure our city continues to be a place that inspires all who visit it. I encourage you to venture out in support of these businesses. Not sure where to stop first? I highly recommend visiting Brandon Byrd of Goodies Frozen Custard & Treats! You can read all about this local business on page 34. Big thanks to Brandon for posing for our cover this month! We are so proud of our photographer, Julie Carrasco, for her amazing work on what is her very first pubilshed magazine cover! On a personal note, I’d like to thank my friends, family, team and readers for celebrating my Alexandria Chamber of Commerce 40 Under 40 achievement with me! Being recognized alongside so many amazing Alexandrians was such an honor. I am so proud of what we have been able to accomplish here at VIP Alexandria Magazine and the fact that so many of you have been touched by our work makes my heart so happy! Thank you all! With all of this being said, let's go ahead and dive into The Downtown Issue! Be sure to check out our Calendar of Events on page 40 and smile for our photographers at the next, local event. You never know when your picture could appear in VIP! Until next month, Alexandria... just remember: Shopping, Dining + READING LOCAL is good for the soul!

KELLIE GUNDERMAN P U B L I S H E R , V I P A L E X A N D R I A M AG A Z I N E

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THE DOWNTOWN ISSUE • 7


VO LU M E 3 • I S S U E 6

PUBLISHER KELLIE GUNDERMAN E D I TO R I A L M A N AG E R C RYS TA L A N D E R S O N E D I TO R A N D R E W G AT E S AS S I S TA N T N ATA L E I G H W E B E R AC C O U N T E X E C U T I V E S M A RT H A C A R U C C I M A RY H E R B E RT J O R G E M A RT I N E Z S TA F F W R I T E R L I E S E L S C H M I DT CONTRIBUTING WRITERS A LYC I A B U R A N T B R O O K E L AU R E N P H OTO G R A P H E R S JULIE CARRASCO JEFF HEENEY V I C TO R I A M A N C E

W W W.V I PA L X M AG . C O M

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CONTENTS FEATURES 14

T H E C H A M B E R A L X S P OT L I G H T: A N D R E W M C M A N N

16

P L E AS E R E M E M B E R : TA K E AWAYS F R O M T H E PA N D E M I C

22

A L X I M PAC T: A L E X A N D R I A S E A P O RT F O U N DAT I O N

28

AS K A R T: T E C H S TA RT- U P S

32

R O L L I N ' O N T H E R I V E R : P OTO M AC PA D D L E C LU B

34

V I P P R O F I L E : B R A N D O N BY R D ( N O S TA LG I A AT

16

43

GOODIES) 40

C A L E N DA R O F E V E N T S

43

A TO U R O F S O U T H R OYA L

52

M O C K TA I L S O N T H E WAT E R F R O N T

58

V I P W E D D I N G : A B BY + A L E X

64

VIP SUPERMOM: SAMIA GORE

68

A V I S I TO R ' S G U I D E TO O L D TOW N A L E X A N D R I A

72

SA LU T E TO S E R V I C E : H O M E S F O R O U R T R O O P S

52

EVENTS 12

T H E C H A M B E R A L X 4 0 U N D E R 4 0 AWA R D S

20

D E L R AY V I N TAG E & F L E A M A R K E T

38

G O O D I E S F R OZ E N C U S TA R D & T R E AT S R I B B O N CUTTING

42

T H E C H A M B E R A L X VA LO R AWA R D S

56

L E E - F E N DA L L H O U S E H I S TO R I C G A R D E N TO U R

74

HOMES FOR OUR TROOPS FUNDRAISER

58

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HOSTING AN EVENT? WA N T TO S E E YO U R F R I E N D S & C O L L E AG U E S I N V I P ? O U R E V E N T C OV E R AG E I S 1 0 0 % C O M P L I M E N TA RY ! F O R C O N S I D E R AT I O N , P L E AS E E M A I L E V E N T I N F O TO : H E L LO @ V I PA L E X A N D R I A M AG . C O M 10 • VIP ALEXANDRIA MAGAZINE

38


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THE DOWNTOWN ISSUE • 11


photography courtesy of the chamber alx

The Chamber ALX’s sixth class of 40 Under 40 Honorees was recently awarded. The celebration of inspiring young individuals, their successes in various industries, and their impact on our thriving Alexandria community took place at The Alexandrian following a lavish cocktail hour. In addition to the 40 outstanding young professionals, two deserving high school students were also acknowledged.

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THE DOWNTOWN ISSUE • 13


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THE CHAMBER ALX SPOTLIGHT

ANDREW MCMANN STORE REPRESENTATIVE, CUSTOM INK STORY BY LIESEL SCHMIDT

With so many businesses, both corporate and independently owned, seeking out logoed items, it’s no wonder that the custom printing industry has been so successful in recent years. From tee-shirts and promotional products to signs and banners, the options are endless and serve as great marketing tools. But as much as custom printing is used in the business world, it has also been tapped for use by groups and organizations for events. As one of the forerunners in the custom printing industry, Custom Ink is a brand that has far-reaching recognition, and Alexandria’s brick-andmortar location is primed for printing everything local businesses and organizations could need.

Passionate about meeting the needs of local neighbors and businesses, McMann loves working with his clients at Custom Ink and says, “Everyone loves swag,” which keeps him—and the store—extremely busy.

“We work with people who need items for all sorts of events, including birthday parties, family reunions, charity events, and employee appreciation gifts; and it is great to see the care and effort everyone puts into their customized items,” says Andrew McMann, who has been a store representative for the Custom Ink store in Old Town Alexandria for the past three and a half years. “We also love the chance to make suggestions here at the store and help find the perfect items for a group event— something that they will get and everyone will say ‘Wow!’ about.”

“Old Town is such a tight-knit community, and it has been instrumental to us as the store has been expanding and growing to be able to go to Chamber meetings so that we could hear about the other businesses in the area and how we can support them and the culture of Old Town.”

As part of a community-centered business, McMann understands the value in being part of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce along with his colleagues, and he feels that the connection is one that has helped in his work. “Joining the Chamber has been great for all of us at the store here in Old Town because we have gotten to network and meet with other businesses to see what their needs are,” he says.

- ANDREW MCMANN

INTERESTED IN JOINING THE CHAMBER? VISIT WWW.THECHAMBERALX.COM THE DOWNTOWN ISSUE • 15


Please Remember WHAT WILL YOU MISS? TAKEAWAYS FROM THE PANDEMIC. STORY BY ALYCIA BURANT OF HEALTHY MINDS THERAPY

B

y nature, humans thrive on connection. Over the last year and a half or so, many people relearned how to connect in different ways. The pandemic illuminated areas in our lives where we crave attention as well as areas in our lives where we put too much unnecessary emphasis. As a society, many of us were forced to slow down and take a magnifying glass to our priorities and examine what really mattered. There were many horrific losses and changes during the pandemic that we cannot get back. However, there were also many changes that came with open arms and gave us permission to relax a bit. As we continue to transition into our community again, I invite you to bring along some of your newfound experiences and appreciations with you.

Please remember how much you loved eating every meal together with your loved ones. Pre-pandemic, maybe it was a treat or a rare occasion that you and your partner or you and your family ate a meal together at the family table. When the pandemic came, family meals became a regular, everyday occurrence for many people. Remember how much you cherished this time; the laughs you shared; the intimate emotions you exchanged; and the way you appreciated the food you had and the people who got it to you safely. Carry 16 • VIP ALEXANDRIA MAGAZINE

that gratitude with you as your meals may become less frequent together or as you eat out at local restaurants.

Please remember how good it felt to slow down. This one is huge. Let’s say that again. Remember how GOOD it felt to SLOW DOWN. For the first time, society normalized and accepted slowing down. It was okay to


stay in your loungewear and not brush your hair. It was okay if you didn’t pick up your kids’ toys for days. It was okay if you didn’t get all the laundry done or all the mail sorted. And hey, guess what? It STILL IS OKAY! You get to decide what is okay, not society. Listen to your body and your needs. Give yourself permission to do things at your own pace.

Please remember how good it felt to see your friends’ faces and not just a simple text on a screen. Something changed in the way we communicated when the pandemic happened. We used our phones differently than before. We always had the ability to phone or video-chat our friends and family, but it was not as common or convenient to do so. People typically resorted to text messaging loved ones, losing the real human experience of hearing their voices and seeing their faces. When the pandemic happened, many of us turned to video-chatting more often. This ignited a spark in us, embracing this technology in a way we never had

before. We craved those face-to-face phone calls and lit up to see our grandparents and parents on the other side. It became the next best thing to being able to be in the same physical presence with our loved ones. For those times where you are still not able to connect in person with your friends or family, but feel pressed for time, don’t send the disconnected text. I encourage you to take a few minutes to make the call and enjoy the sweet sound of your grandmother’s voice or your best friend’s laughter.

Please remember how connected you felt with your family. Pre-pandemic, many of us fell victim to the rush of our days. Get here, do this, go there. It was rush, rush, rush. When the lockdown happened, many people started to embrace the quiet, still, soft

moments with family. We noticed a lull in our day that perhaps we never did before. We developed a deeper connection with our immediate family - a more intimate

connection with those we were already living with but had not quite taken the time to get to know in the way we did during quarantine. Many people started to show more compassion for one another. We understood each other’s nuances a bit more. And yes, these same habits and behaviors are the same ones that became bothersome as the pandemic stretched on, but still, they connected us on levels we can now appreciate. As you start to embrace connections with those outside your immediate family, remember how good it felt to be connected to your family. As you drift further away from your comfort zone, don’t forget how good it feels at your home base.

Please remember how you let the rules relax a bit with your kids and enjoyed a few more sugary treats. If you are a parent or caregiver, the pandemic showed you, you can loosen your grip on some longstanding rules and your kids will still survive. Life became so much more than getting to bed on time or eating vegetables at dinner. Suddenly bedtime didn’t have so much meaning. THE DOWNTOWN ISSUE • 17


It was okay if the kids stayed up a “little bit longer.” It was okay if the kids had a few “extra treats” throughout the day. Who cared, right? You were just trying to survive the day again for the 135th day in a row inside! Did anyone suffer? Did anyone stop growing or turn green? I imagine there were a few more giggles in your house, too. When the caregivers are relaxed, so are the kids! Remember how good it felt to be in a less tense household and indulge a little bit in scary times.

Please remember the care you had for your neighbors. During our busy lives and the pre-pandemic hustle, many people were lucky to get a wave or “hello” from the neighbors. It was a rare occasion to engage in conversation or to ask how each other were doing. During quarantine, we saw a shift in our neighborhoods and interactions among community members. This isn’t something new and America is pretty good at this. When given a difficult and challenging situation, Americans show up. This was the same for COVID-19. Even though we were isolated in our own homes, we still looked out for one another, particularly our elderly and single neighbors. We made sure they had all the food and toilet paper they needed. We made cards and dropped them on their front steps. We did distant drive-byes to say hello and check on them. Don’t forget how good this felt for them and you. As things continue to open, don’t forget those who are still taking their time and do not have a support system or who may have lost family during the pandemic. Continue to connect and check in. Please remember how good it feels to help others.

Please remember how creative you were. The lockdowns sparked inspiration in so many of us. Many people were suddenly bakers, artists, crafters, and painters. Everyone’s artistic and creative side seemed to make an appearance and helped maintain sanity during an unpredictable time. People were willing to push themselves, try new things, and go outside their comfort zone with physical activity. Please remember how activating this was. Remember how uplifting this was. As you go back into the world, don’t lose that childlike spirit. Keep trying new things, be vulnerable, and go outside of your comfort zone. When you start to feel overwhelmed by life and all it brings, please remember, you are a superhero. You survived a pandemic. 18 • VIP ALEXANDRIA MAGAZINE

Meet Alycia Alycia is a Licensed Professional Counselor with over 12 years’ experience providing direct patient care to adults, adolescents, children, and families. She is also your average every-day girl who has dealt with her own array of challenges. By changing her thoughts and developing positive, healthy coping skills, she creates a positive healthy mind, body, and soul. Alycia is an experienced independent business owner with a demonstrated history of working in the mental health care industry. She is an experienced entrepreneur with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Virginia Tech, a Master of Arts in Community Counseling from American Psychological Association accredited Argosy University School of Professional Psychology, and completed her Post-Master’s Certification in School Counseling at University of South Florida. Alycia is also an approved Board-Certified Clinical Supervisor.


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photography by victoria mance

The DMVs hottest outdoor market recently hosted another successful event! The market took place at the intersection of Mt. Vernon and Bellefonte Aves. in the Del Ray section of Alexandria, VA! The Del Ray Vintage & Flea Market is held on every second Saturday of the month.

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ALX IMPACT

STORY BY LIESEL SCHMIDT PHOTOS COURTESY OF ALEXANDRIA SEAPORT FOUNDATION

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When the Alexandria Seaport Foundation was created in 1982, its focus was simply to honor the maritime heritage of Alexandria as an important seaport town. By 1993, the Foundation had gained an even more important focus: serving at-risk young people in need of direction. To do so, they launched the Apprentice Program, a workforce development program which serves young people from the ages of 17 to 22. Through guidance and adult mentoring as well as project-based learning, the Seaport Foundation provides the career, educational and life skills necessary for these at-risk youth to become thriving, self-sufficient adults who contribute to their communities. “Our mission is to provide young people in need of direction with a second chance that they very much need,” says Executive Director Kathy Seifert. “Many apprentices have experienced little success in traditional 24 • VIP ALEXANDRIA MAGAZINE

school settings, have been involved with the court system, have dropped out of school or have struggled with substance abuse, anxiety or depression. Some have struggled with a combination of all of those things, making getting ahead extremely difficult. The Apprentice Program provides them a safe and nurturing environment in which to change the trajectory of their lives, attain their GED and gain the life and career skills necessary to successfully and independently move forward.” With such an important mission driving it, the Foundation and organizations like it are indeed invaluable resources for the local community and changing the direction of the future. “Our young people are struggling, and they need our support,” Seifert says. “Small non-profits can be so powerful in serving this vulnerable population by providing them a safe space, experienced adult mentoring and


KATHY SEIFERT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

the life, educational and career skills which are critical to changing the trajectory of their lives and experiencing personal fulfillment and joy.” Since its establishment, the Seaport Foundation has impacted the lives of hundreds of young people throughout the DC metropolitan area. “Graduate apprentices have entered the military, completed postsecondary school, become boat builders, property managers, construction workers and non-profit leaders,”

Seifert notes proudly. “There are very few programs for this age group, as many consider them to be adults— yet when apprentices come to the Seaport Foundation, they lack the majority of tools necessary to navigate the adult world. We provide them with these important skills and guide them as they learn to break the cycle of dependency and become productive, happy members of their community.” The proof of their efficacy, is, of course the apprentices themselves—not only in the strides they make in going on to have careers, but in other ways. “We experience success every single day in the Apprentice Program, both in big and small ways,” Seifert notes. “When an apprentice shifts their attitude, recognizes that being tardy or absent is unacceptable, begins to take pride in their appearance, consistently abides by the Seaport rules and learns the value of good work ethic, these are all accomplishments. When an apprentice passes their GED test, secures a job or is accepted to college, the military or a post-apprenticeship program, these are all ‘wins.’ It is truly a privilege to lead the Seaport Foundation and witness the miracles that take place every day in young people who once had little or no hope for their futures.” Naturally, the organization faces challenges—the biggest of which is getting through to the youth who come through their doors. “It’s not easy to change an individual at the age of 17 or 18, when they have been practicing their behavior for years prior to entering the program,” admits Seifert. “Most apprentices have had very little positive adult mentoring, live at or below the poverty line and lack the self-esteem which comes from experiencing personal success and achievements. The individual transitions which occur during the program take time—and a great deal of patience, persistence and resilience on the part of apprentices and staff alike.” As a non-profit, the Seaport Foundation depends on the support of individual gifts, corporate donations, grants THE DOWNTOWN ISSUE • 25


and family foundations for funding. They also hold two annual events— Seaport Day, an all-day waterfront festival with boats, children’s activities, live music, local food, beer, wine and other outdoor/nautical activities held at Waterfront Park in Old Town; and Wine on the Water, a springtime event on the water featuring live music, exceptional wines and charcuterie as well as live and silent auctions.

served annually, construct a second waterfront facility adjacent to their current Seaport Center to support this growth and resume their Middle School Math Program in local schools—a program which is designed to prevent early dropouts through project-based learning, hands-on math instruction and carpentry. The Seaport Foundation expects to launch a Capital Campaign to fund the new building in early 2022.

Plans for the future include expansion to make an even greater impact. The Board of Directors recently approved a three- to five-year strategic plan to double the number of young people

To learn more about the Alexandria Seaport Foundation and its events or volunteer opportunities, call 703.778.0977 or visit www.alexandriaseaport.org.

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ASK ART

startups LEGAL ADVICE BY ARTHUR L. WEISS, ATTORNEY

Dear Art: I have this great idea for a tech company! I also have the resources, talent and funds to make it happen. But before I get started, I want to ensure I've protected myself from a legal standpoint. What do I need to do? Just about every technology startup has two things in common: (1) it needs highly skilled and visionary employees and (2) it lacks the funds to pay them. Hence the rise of equity compensation, the use of corporate stock or options to make up for the financial shortfall. The concept seems easy, pay what you can afford and issue some company stock to make up the difference. This serves two complementary purposes, it saves whatever money the company has in the bank and it aligns the interests of the founder with those of the employees. It should be pretty simple to do, an entry in 28 • VIP ALEXANDRIA MAGAZINE

a spreadsheet or a capitalization table, maybe issuing a pretty stock certificate for the shares. Unfortunately, the IRS sees things differently. Relying on their basic principle – why make things simple when you can make them complicated? – the IRS has rules, exceptions to the rules and exceptions to the exceptions. It is a veritable alphabet soup of choices (ISO, NSO, RSU, RSA, NQDF) each with its own rules, tax postures and traps. What is common to each of these choices is the need for a well-drafted, comprehensive plan. If you are planning on only issuing stock as compensation then the plan need not address all the other types of equity compensation. However, if you are planning now or in the future to issue options, stock, warrants, etc, then you should bite the bullet upfront and have an “omnibus” plan drafted to cover all the bases.


THE DOWNTOWN ISSUE • 29


For now, let’s limit the discussion to the plan to issue corporate stock as compensation. In its book Selected Issues in Equity Compensation, the National Center for Employee Ownership (www.nceo.org) suggests you use the plan to establish both policies and procedures for the stock issue. Policies should establish the objectives of the issue and address the administrative mechanisms needed to efficiently oversee the project. This plan will serve as a roadmap for the Board of Directors (I know right now your corporation is just you and your friend Darryl, but that is going to change) to determine who will be eligible for a stock award, how much the award

usually does this at a regular meeting of the Board where the corporate secretary is present and taking the minutes of the meeting, which will include the stock issuance as an agenda item, what Board members were present, who voted on it and how they voted. Once approved by the Board members, the minutes become a permanent part of the record. The mechanism for accomplishing these important tasks will be spelled out in the plan. As an aside and as an attorney who has handled corporate clients for decades I recommend you purchase a “Corporate Book” to keep track of the many documents that will memorialize your growth from a startup with a

should be and the attributes of the stock issued to the lucky few. For example, will the stock be issued outright or will it vest over time? If vesting, what will the schedule be? What voting rights will go along with the unvested shares? What dividend rights will go with the unvested shares. It is not common for unvested shares to have either voting or dividend rights, but that could be a matter of negotiation in your company. Clarifying that issue in the plan of stock issuance closes off negotiation. You get to decide.

great idea to a multinational technology firm. It is worth the $100 at the beginning.

The plan should also cover the procedures the company will use to issue the shares, valuation of the shares and tax withholding as necessary. Obviously, this very short list is not exhaustive. As your company grows, the administrative burden of tracking all of these transactions, vesting, additional issues, updating the capitalization table, will increase dramatically. It is important to remember that the founders’ skills are usually not aligned perfectly with these onerous tasks. The procedural aspect of the overall plan will address who and how the company will distribute the administrative workload to ensure it is done in accordance with good corporate governance and in compliance with the Securities and Exchange Commission rules and federal tax law. Running afoul of either of these is not a good result. It is the Board of Directors that establishes an award, who gets the award and how much the award will be. It

Having started many companies myself, some with good results, others not, I know that the objective of the company is to be successful, fulfilling and financially rewarding. There is another goal that is equally important – staying out of court, meaning you will not have to sue anyone and no one is going to sue you. Litigation is expensive, time-consuming and emotionally draining. It is also an unwanted distraction from the operations of the business. A well-drafted plan of equity compensation should reduce and hopefully eliminate the possibility of hurt feelings, unmet expectations, disgruntled employees and threats of “I’ll sue!!” The costs of drafting the plan will be well worth it if it lets management, staff and front-line employees know the rules of the game up front. Final thought - I often get calls from clients asking about a particular issue of corporate governance and law. My question is usually the same – what do the by-laws say? Or, in the case of a limited liability company, “what does the Operating Agreement say?” One client responded, “Oh, that’s just a legal document.” Yes, it is, and it is a document, like the plan of stock issuance, that requires your full understanding and attention to make sure it expresses the needs and aspirations of the founders. As Benjamin Franklin wisely said – if you fail to plan, you should plan to fail. Or something like that.

HAVE A LEGAL QUESTION FOR ART? EMAIL HELLO@VIPALEXANDRIAMAG.COM. ALL LEGAL QUESTIONS REMAIN CONFIDENTIAL.

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A RTHUR L. W EISS Attorney Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA), M.S. Finance

WE CAN HELP YOU WITH: • Buying/Selling a Business • Investing in a Business • Tax Audits • Unfiled Tax Returns • Tax and Commercial Litigation • Tax Liens, Levies and Garnishments

• Construction Law • Contracts • Personal Injury • Consumer Law • Business Valuations

Specializing in the analysis of business opportunities & investments. Call us at (703) 226-9406 before you invest! Appointments available in Alexandria and Fairfax

797 Center Street Herndon, VA 20170 703 226-9406 www.ArtWeissLaw.com Licensed in Virginia, Arizona, US Tax Court and Federal District Courts THE DOWNTOWN ISSUE • 31


Rollin' on the River ALEXANDRIA WATERFRONT WELCOMES THE AREA'S FIRST + ONLY CYCLEBOAT STORY BY JORGE MARTINEZ + PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEFF HEENEY

After a trolley pub ride in South Carolina, two young entrepenuers were inspired to conceive a new business idea for the waters of the Potomac River. Potomac Paddle Club is the area’s first and only pontoon pedal boat or “cycleboat” service. The service from Old Town’s waterfront officially launched earlier this summer in a ceremony attended by Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson, members of the press, and invited guests. The 2.5-hour cruise departs from the Alexandria waterfront behind the Torpedo Factory and travels to National Harbor for a thirty-minute rest stop before continuing up the Potomac River and past Alexandria landmarks. 32 • VIP ALEXANDRIA MAGAZINE


Each boat accommodates a total of sixteen passengers, plus the captain and deckhands. Passengers sit on comfortable bike seats that encircle a 10-person mahogany bar as they pedal at their own pace and enjoy monumental views on the Potomac River. Passengers can bring food, wine, beer, and soft drinks of their choosing. Potomac Paddle Club provides coolers and ice for passengers. Now, burning calories while consuming them is possible! For groups with 10 or more, the front of the boat has a lounge area for group members to hang out while their companions power the journey. But don’t be nervous if you aren't a strong peddler. The boats have a motor in case passengers decide to slow down their pedaling efforts. Potomac Paddle Club was founded by Jack Maher and Jack Walter, local Yorktown High School Graduates and friends since preschool. These boats have been cruising the DC waters from Alexandria to Georgetown, and are popular for group celebrations, bachelorette parties, birthday bashes, and corporate events. This social, active adventure is the perfect way for friends, families, colleagues, and tourists to hop between waterfront locations and take in the sights. Potomac Paddle Club sails two Fridays a month from Alexandria. For more information about Potomac Paddle Club and to book a trip, visit www.potomacpaddleclub.com.

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Nostalgia at Goodies FEATURING BRANDON BYRD STORY BY BROKE LAUREN PHOTOGRAPHY BY JULIE CARRASCO

The historic Ice House in Alexandria has found a tenant who honors those who came before him and showcases the previous business owners who found a home here. When Brandon Byrd moved into the iconic property, he launched a business selling a product that was every bit as nostalgic as the site itself: frozen custard. Since his origin in branding and event marketing, Byrd dedicated himself to making sure he set a standard for his brand from the very beginning when he opened the doors of Goodies Frozen Custard & Treats. He wanted to do more than offer delicious custards or floats; Byrd wanted to deliver a trip down memory lane with every bite he delivers. That is why he also sells custard out of his vintage 1952 Metro van, which he playfully named “Gigi.” Byrd fell in love with iconic moments within food and music at a young age. As a child, he went picking with his father, finding antique or unique artifacts to resell or keep

as a treasure for himself. After a day of picking, he and his father would often stop for a sarsaparilla float; and memories of the simple and classic treat always bring a smile to Byrd’s face. He also remembers a time when he was driving Gigi in DC and a man asked if he would be allowed to sit in the van with him. Byrd learned that the man used to drive a Coca-Cola delivery truck, and Gigi brought back memories of that time for him. This is the driving purpose behind Byrd’s brand, and these are the experiences he wants to share with every customer when they come to Goodies. “You don’t know how people will connect with your brand,” Byrd says. “You don’t know which touchpoints will resonate with them.” The Ice House, which resides down the street from the Freedom House Museum, was built in the 1930s and is expected to weather the next 100 years. Seeing this THE DOWNTOWN ISSUE • 35


building, Byrd wrote to the owner of Ice House five or six years ago because he knew that the iconic building was the perfect location for his brand. He spent those years building a friendship with the owner and is proud to know that the previous owner felt he was the best person to continue the Ice House for generations. During that time, Byrd found a photo at the Ice House of a laborer carrying ice. Today, he has a mural on the building with a picture of the laborer with words that read, “The feeling is mutual.” He feels that he has carried the story of this history from “laborer to landlord.” Byrd is a remarkable businessman with a detailed understanding and plan for his brand. He has been in business for over ten years only serving vanilla bean flavored custard because he understands the 36 • VIP ALEXANDRIA MAGAZINE


importance of simple and classic business practices. He fears that expanding into multiple different flavors would not have put him where he is in the Ice House today. By focusing on one classic flavor, he does not have to maintain or store others, which saves time and money but also allows him to focus on a more secure future. Every detail of Goodies has been carefully planned from the distribution to the brand by Byrd himself. He is more than the face of the brand; he is the heart and the soul of Goodies. More than just a business, Goodies is a part of the community. From the community garden where they literally took root, to the events they help us celebrate, Byrd wants a business that is not only in Alexandria but rooted within Alexandria. The history of the Ice House will continue to a new age that will live on for generations to come. Nostalgia breathes through the Goodies brand and envelops the ideals of classic Americana: a time when Motown, doo-wop, and vintage cars filled the scene. This is the feeling that Goodies brings to its customers; and while that feeling of nostalgia may be rooted in the past, the custard shop has a bright future ahead.

Ribbon Cutting

Following a soft launch of Goodies Frozen Custard & Treats over Memorial Day Weekend, Byrd made the grand reopening of Ice House officially on July 5th. Alexandria leaders and members of the community came out in support of his inspiring achievement and what is bound to be an icon of Alexandria for years to come.

"Excited to cut the ribbon and welcome Goodies Frozen Custard & Treats officially to Alexandria! A local business with an adaptive reuse of a historic building, and…really tasty!" - Mayor Justin Wilson THE DOWNTOWN ISSUE • 37


GOODIES FROZEN CUSTARD & TREATS | RIBBON CUTTING

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WHAT'S HAPPEN AUGUST 2021 CALENDAR OF EVENTS

AUG 4, 11, 18, 25

COOL YOGA 1900 Mount Vernon Ave., 6:30-7:30

AUG 6-8

OTBD TAX FREE WEEKEND Various locations + times Participating Old Town Boutique District locations will pick up the tax on your purchases all weekend long. Get ready to shop local and save big!

Bring your mat and water to the Del Ray Psych & Wellness Parking lot for Cool Yoga with Maureen Clyne, Coldwell Banker Realtor® and yogini! This is the 9th year of Cool Yoga and features rotating instructors and after-party refreshments.

AUG 7, 14, 21, 28

LIVE AT LENA'S

ALEXANDRIA FARMER'S MARKET

401 E Braddock Rd., 6-8pm The Loft at Lena's hosts live, local music every Thursday night. For an updated schedule of performers, text LIVEMUSIC to (703) 683-5330

301 King Streeet, 7am - 12pm The Old Town Farmers' Market is located at Market Square, in front of Alexandria’s historic City Hall. The Market is open rain or shine and parking is always free!

AUG 5, 12, 19, 26

SEPTEMBER 5

FESTIVALOFSPEEDSTYLEALEX.COM 40 • VIP ALEXANDRIA MAGAZINE


NING? AUG 10

AUG 21

3410 Mount Vernon Ave., 7-8:30pm

138 N Royal St., 9-5:30pm

SUCCULENT WORKSHOP

It's Craft Beer, Moonshine & Secret Garden Night at Hops N' Shine. This event is KID FRIENDLY! Choose your planter and build your very own terrarium! No green thumb required! Learn how to build a tabletop succulent terrarium and how to properly care for your new plants. Purchase your tickets online at creationnation.events

GALLERY LAFAYETTE POP-UP

Legendary frame maker and artist Todd Healy will be in town for a one-day popup at Gadsby's Tavern to discuss your framing needs and make available his most popular Old Town prints and historic maps. Healy can be reached in advance via email at todd4art@aol.com or by phone, 703-399-1235 but all are welcome to visit him on the day!

AUGUST 21

BRAIDS, BUNDTS, BOTOX + BUBBLES 118 North Fayette St., 6-8pm VIP Alexandria Magazine, Salon deZEN and Aiyana Atelier are joining forces to host a unique spa experience, featuring braid tutorials, a LIVE Botox® demonstration, music, dessert, champagne and, of course, wonderful company! Stay tuned to VIP Alexandria Magazine, Salon deZEN and Aiayana Atelier on social media to learn how you can snag your tickets to this exclusive event! THE DOWNTOWN ISSUE • 41


VALOR AWARDS photography by kip radt w/ jason dixson photography

The Chamber ALX recently hosted the annual Valor Awards, presented by Inova Alexandria Hospital. This awards program is dedicated to honoring the public safety personnel of the Alexandria Fire Department, Police Department, Sheriff’s Office, and Department of Emergency Communications for heroic acts of valor.

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PROUDLY BRINGS YOU A TOUR OF...

South

Royal

STORIES BY LIESEL SCHMIDT PHOTOGRAPHY BY BY JEFF HEENEY / LOCAL BUSINESSES

THE DOWNTOWN ISSUE • 43


THE ALEXANDRIAN

480 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (703) 549-6060 www.thealexandrian.com

WAYNE FISHER’S AMERICAN DESIGN

114 South Royal Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (703) 836-6043 www.fb.com/ Since opening his shop on Royal Street, Wayne Fisher has become a recognized name and face to collectors of country, folk, and decorative art, as well as Americana. Over the course of his lifetime, his love for collecting, displaying, and selling antiques, as well as designing with them, has evolved into a style that is distinctively his own. His style is so unique that Fisher’s personal homes

With its picturesque location in historic Alexandria, the Alexandrian is the perfect setting for a stay amidst the beauty of Old Town. Featuring 241 guest rooms and suites, the hotel’s upscale feel blends contemporary design with historic charm and offers luxurious amenities. Its onsite restaurant, King & Rye, features an elevated take on Southern American cuisine and a spectacular selection of bourbon and whiskey. With 9,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, the hotel is ideal for meetings, conferences, and events. From creating customized menus to coordinating events, the Alexandrian’s team of professional planners is at hand to ensure that everything runs smoothly, and your event is memorable. 44 • VIP ALEXANDRIA MAGAZINE


have been featured in several national magazines over the past 25 years, illustrating his unique sense of styling a space. Building on his depth of knowledge of the items in his collection, his shop features three centuries of stylish design that boasts a contemporary appeal.

LAVENDER MOON CUPCAKERY 116 South Royal Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (703) 683-0588 www.fb.com/

No matter how old you are, there’s something about a cupcake that seems to make the day just a little bit sweeter. Offering a menu of unique and too-pretty-to-

and directed by Julie Zupan, a Conservatory-trained teacher who has lived and taught in the Washington area for 25 years. Faculty is comprised of illustrious professional musicians and educators who train promising students from early childhood into young adulthood in the technical, academic, and artistic aspects of music. Old Town Music School also offers instruction for adults seeking greater proficiency in music. At its core, their mission is to “enlighten, excite, and educate all children and adults who have a desire to make music a part of their lives.”

DAVID L. MORTIMER, CPA 120 South Royal Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (703) 743.0272 www.alexandriataxcpa.com

eat confections that make choosing just one favorite impossible, Lavender Moon is a must for any trip to South Royal. From Hummingbird and Boston Cream to Key Lime and Flourless Chocolate Sea Salt Almond, the owners of this organic bakery have an incredible talent for flavor, building on their backgrounds as a chef and a sommelier. Check out their daily menu and try something new or stick with an old favorite. There’s never a wrong time for a great cupcake.

OLD TOWN MUSIC SCHOOL 120 South Royal Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (703) 341-7341 www.oldtownmusicschool.com

Offering private piano, guitar, violin, ukulele, and voice lessons for students beginning as young as three years old, Old Town Music School is Alexandria’s exclusive preparatory music school. The school is founded

Providing clients with accounting, tax, and financial management services, David L. Mortimer works with small businesses throughout the DC area, including g o v e r n m e n t contractors, legal professionals, software developers, and real estate and healthcare specialists. These services enable the firm to address industry-specific c h a l l e n g e s , compliance requirements, and standard tax practices, which allow business owners to better focus on growth, productivity, and effectiveness. The firm’s concentration on business clientele provides owners with a tool that makes their job easier. Mortimer keeps them wellinformed on tax law changes throughout the year, enabling those businesses to take advantage of all tax incentives. THE DOWNTOWN ISSUE • 45


BREAKFAST | LUNCH | DINNER | BRUNCH M-F: BREAKFAST + LUNCH • 10AM-3PM M-F: DINNER • 5:30-10PM SA-SU: BRUNCH • 9AM-3PM, DINNER • 3-10PM

CAFFE HOURS: M-F, 7AM-2:30PM

119 SOUTH ROYAL STREET ALEXANDRIA, VA 22314 (703)-535-8151 • FONTAINEBISTRO.COM

FONTAINE CAFÉ & CREPERIE 119 South Royal Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (703)535-8151 www.fontainebistro.com

KATE & LO

121 South Royal Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 www.shopkateandlo.com

Walk in the door of Fontaine Café & Creperie and close your eyes. Take a deep breath and let the smells and sounds envelop you. You just may imagine you’re somewhere in France—and while your brain may know you’re not, your taste buds will beg to differ. Featuring a menu of crepes and galettes that are their claim to fame, Fontaine also serves a wide range of dishes from breakfast to dinner that showcase the talent in their kitchen, along with an extensive wine and beer list. Check out their menu of seasonal Virginia ciders, perfect for pairing with their signature crepes. crepes.

Walk through the signature pink door of Kate & Lo on South Royal Street, and you’ll find a boutique filled with stylish clothes, classic jewelry, and accessories to take any outfit to the next level. Owner, Laura, worked together with her creative friend, Kate, to create the perfect source for all things fashionable at a price point 46 • VIP ALEXANDRIA MAGAZINE


that makes them affordable. All pieces are available on their website, from clothing and accessories to bath and body products. Launched during COVID, the store is a reflection of the adventurous spirit of its owners and their desire to give the women of Alexandria something new.

ALEXANDRIA & CO.

121 South Royal Street, Alexandria, VA 2231 (703) 548.0659 www.alxandcompany.com Boasting more than 50 years of experience in the jewelry industry and an expertise for exceptional design, the team at Alexandria & Co. both creates and restores beautiful,

boutique owners, reservations are available for a single month or longer, making pricing affordable. The studio is designed with fully adjustable shelving and furniture that makes changing the space simple, enabling users to customize everything to their vision and their needs. With 500 square feet, the space accommodates multiple set-ups in the event that one client needs multiple types of spaces. Event promotion is also available upon reservation.

SHANNON, MULLINS & WRIGHT, LLP

124 South Royal Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (571) 620-1930 www.smw.com

one-of-a-kind jewelry. All specialized pieces are made on-site at their shop on South Royal, where owners Tim Shaheen and Meaghan Foran use their design acumen and knowledge of jewelry to create breathtaking pieces that will be treasured for generations. The independent, family-owned-and-operated company also employs goldsmiths and polishers who bring their skill to the team and help make the ALX & Co. a success.

THE SEEDLING COLLECTIVE 121 South Royal Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 www.theseedlingcollective.com

Pop-ups have become an extremely effective tool for companies all over the world, and the Seedling Collective offers an upscale take on the concept. Offering pop-up studio space for creatives, entrepreneurs, and aspiring

Based in Alexandria, Shannon, Mullins & Wright LLP provides legal services to individuals and businesses throughout Virginia, DC, and Maryland. The firm focuses on integrity, professionalism, and loyalty in providing comprehensive legal advice across a wide range of practice areas, including tax, land use, real estate, design, litigation, estate and trust, construction, and business. Their team is dedicated to offering high value representation and counsel, extending the relationship of attorney and client to a more personal level in order to better serve their clients. They work tirelessly for the best solution and their philosophy of being a team with their clients means that they always seek to understand the needs of the individuals and businesses who come to them. THE DOWNTOWN ISSUE • 47


Clothes don’t grow... kids do! SHOP OUR HAND-SELECTED CHILDREN’S FASHIONS

122 S. ROYAL ST. • ALEXANDRIA • (703) 567-4518 • @SHOP529KIDSCONSIGN

529 KIDS CONSIGN

122 South Royal Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 www. 529kidsconsign.com Making a play on the 529 college savings plan, 529 Kids Consign is an upscale children's and maternity consignment boutique specializing in the latest trends. Quality is a hallmark of the company, which is why they accept only the best brands. Offering consignment items as well as the newest and most on-trend essentials for stylish mothers-to-be and cool kids who love to dress, 529 has become the place for eco-conscious shoppers and anyone in search of great clothes at a great price. Their team of experts will even help you with your wish list, curating the perfect pieces for your child’s closet. The shop also specializes in gifts for kids and babies.

BOXWOOD

128 South Royal Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (703) 537-8996 www.boxwoodoldtown.com Offering a curated selection of unique items in their South Royal boutique, Boxwood is a local source for beautiful home décor and gifts. From new lamps to eco-friendly throw blankets and beautiful vases to 48 • VIP ALEXANDRIA MAGAZINE


FIDELIO BUSINESS ADVISORS

129 South Royal Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (703) 627-9056 www.fidelioadvisors.com Fidelio Business Advisors is a leading, independent consulting firm providing innovative and forward-looking advisory services designed to meet the unique opportunities of the Human Resource Outsourcing (HRO) space. With a focus on assisting pioneering companies in all phases of their integrated HR, payroll, and benefits business lifecycle, the firm helps maximize potential today with a keen focus on building a sustainable bridge to the future. Founded in 2019 by Todd Cohn, an executive within the HRO space for the past 17 years, Fidelio consults for a cross-section of companies including insurance brokers, professional employer organizations, HR technology platforms, and equity partners in various capacities, helping these companies to provide innovation within the space.

OLD TOWN BOOKS

130 South Royal Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (703) 647-9749] www.oldtownbooks.com

delightful candles, Boxwood has become the top place to shop for those hard-to-find gifts. Boxwood is also a local source for Annie Sloan chalk paint. In fact, it’s the only store in Alexandria certified to sell the product. For great home décor with character and color, Boxwood is a must.

Nestled on the corner of South Royal Street and Prince Street, book lovers will find a truly unique shopping experience. As one of the only independent bookstores in Alexandria, Old Town Books is more than just a bookshop; it is a celebration of storytelling and community impact. Passionately building a bookish community, this local business offers book clubs, author events, and book subscription services. Old Town Books is also spreading the love through

THE COLOR ROOM SALON 129 South Royal Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (703) 915-0263 www.thecolorroom.salon

Specializing in balayage, ombres, freehand highlighting, and color correction, the Color Room is the place for all your custom color needs. From the latest color trends to the classic looks, their colorists are experts in achieving perfection. Their team of colorists will finish with an ontrend haircut, giving clients the best treatment for their hair and a look that will turn heads. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, working in an atmosphere that puts their clients at ease in knowing that their hair is in capable hands. One visit to the Color Room, and your hair will forever be changed. THE DOWNTOWN ISSUE • 49


With its old cobblestone streets and historic buildings, Alexandria is steeped in the past. Old Town is nothing if not the perfect place for finding antiques that speak to that storied past. From beautiful paintings and period furniture to collectible items and estate jewelry, Cavalier Antiques has everything one could hope to find in an antique shop. Curated by owner Robert Ray, the collection at the shop is one sure to hold a treasure you didn’t know you were looking for or pieces you thought you’d never find.

SARA CAMPBELL

320 Prince Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (703) 996-9074 www.saracampbell.com their brilliant and inspiring program, Book Love. The charitable giving program promises to match donations by 20%, working with local nonprofit partners to deliver books into the hands of readers in need. In 2020, Old Town Books and Book Love provided books to over 500 children and, with your help, are on a mission to surpass this achievement in 2021.

CAVALIER ANTIQUES

400 Prince Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (571) 225-7722

While Sara Campbell's yellow Victorian building on the corner of Prince Street and South Royal may be a bit understated, there’s nothing subdued about the chic dresses and playful sportswear sold inside. Created by Boston-based designer, Sara Campbell, the eponymous line is everything a stylish woman could want, all made in the US using materials sourced from domestic mills and factories. With a hallmark of quality, the label is one that speaks to style as well as durability, ease of wear, and function. The company also has philanthropic roots, giving back to local organizations in the communities wherever a store is located.

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MARTHA'S MUSINGS

“The past two years have been especially trying on our small mom-and pop-restaurant. From the waterfront construction, jackhammering, porta-potties, and BAM, a pandemic — yet through it all, here we are, the little restaurant that could. Finally, the waterfront is beautiful.” -MESHELLE ARMSTRONG 52 •• VIP VIP ALEXANDRIA ALEXANDRIA MAGAZINE MAGAZINE 52


Mocktails on the Waterfront YOUR GUIDE TO MOCKTAILS IN OLD TOWN ALEXANDRIA STORY + PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARTHA CARUCCI

Anyone who has recently walked along Alexandria’s waterfront has undoubtedly witnessed the hustle and bustle of activity brought about by the hopping new restaurant scene there. Alexandria Restaurant Partners (ARP) opened Ada’s on the River, followed shortly after with Barca, adding wonderful new options for drinks and dining with a beautiful view. Building on the already popular spots just to their north -- Hummingbird, Virtue, Vola’s and more -- Alexandria’s residents and visitors have plenty of topnotch choices to enjoy along the water. While these places all offer delicious food, they also feature some amazingly refreshing and tasty drinks, presented by very talented bartenders – creative cocktail crafters and masterful mocktail mixologists. Providing a variety of alcohol-free (AF) options, other than just sparkling water with a lime stuck in it for excitement, has become increasingly important as people grow more health conscious or seek alternative beverages without the hangover in the morning.

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“Like any renowned chef making a signature dish, a spirits curator strives for perfection in delivering a master-crafted and memorable experience with their drinks. Whether it's a classic martini, an original recipe, or a mocktail, the satisfaction and pride of creating a delicious combination is an honor that never grows old." -MASON BERMUDEZ Hummingbird, located within Hotel Indigo, was launched in 2017 by the Eat Good Food Group created by award-winning Chef Cathal Armstrong and Meshelle Armstrong of Restaurant Eve fame. New bar manager, Mason Bermudez, whipped up several of his favorites for me, all without alcohol. His Ginger Smash, Rose Colored Glasses, and Jalapeño Margarita were all refreshing, delicious, and AF. Hummingbird is in the process of developing a new cocktail menu which will include some mocktail options. Barca bartender, George Vanegas, a local from Fairfax, said that “mixologists are there to give their guests a show with their drinks” whether they contain alcohol or not, and that it’s all about knowing what to replace the alcohol with. He said that Barca tends toward “more tropical drinks in keeping with the atmosphere and scenario by the water." He made me a beautiful, deep pink/ purplish Pomegranate Passion Fruit Mojito (or "Nojito" as the mocktail version is often called). Ada’s on the River is fortunate enough to 54 •• VIP ALEXANDRIA ALEXANDRIA MAGAZINE MAGAZINE 54


feature Michael Riojas behind their bar, who has competed in international bartending competitions. Michael said he has definitely noticed a “giant increase in the number of people ordering mocktails, as people are more conscious of how much they intake, but still want to be included.” He crafted three delicious mocktails for me to taste. My favorite was a virgin version of Ada’s popular Condopolitan, substituting cucumber water instead of vodka, simple syrup, mint, and lemon juice. I also enjoyed a wonderful combination of pineapple

"We have definitely noticed a giant increase in the number of people ordering mocktails, as people are more conscious of how much they intake, but still want to be included." - MICHAEL RIOJAS

juice, fresh rosemary, and Indian tonic, as well as a refreshing concoction consisting of pomegranate syrup, lemon juice, ginger beer, and rosewater. Virtue Feed & Grain's bartender, Mika Radenkovic, who has been behind their bar for over seven years, served up a delicious berry-based Stardust Mocktail for me, which she crated with muddled fresh blackberries and raspberries, simple syrup, club soda, and Sprite. She shares that their AF mojitos are very popular as well. So if you’re looking for a fun night out, whether it’s knocking back some traditional martinis, or creative new libations, with or without the alcohol, Alexandria’s hot waterfront spots will leave you buzzing!

Meet Martha Martha Carucci has called Alexandria, Virginia her home for over 25 years. In addition to heading Alexandria-based non-profit, the National Breast Center Foundation and the Walk to Bust Cancer, she is the author of Sobrietease and Sobrietease 2: Make It a Double. She openly shares her journey through sobriety over the past nine years, hoping to help others along the way and reduce the stigma of alcoholism. Martha is a contributing writer for VIP Alexandria Magazine. THE DOWNTOWN ISSUE • 55


Historic Garden Tour photography by jeff heeney

Lee-Fendall House recently invites guests to discover the history of their eighteenth century garden. This tour as led by garden volunteer and retired biologist, Roger Monthey.

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Follow Willow as she explores Old Town destinations in curated consignment clothing & accessories by Twist Boutique. 109 N Fairfax St, Alexandria, VA 22314 • @twiststyl

Hummingbird Flies to the top of Old Town Restaurants ~ Washington Post

Impress your friends with the mango wood Minimalist Serving Board, handcrafted by artisans of the Asha Handicrafts Association. Sanskrit for "hope," Asha provides opportunities for artisans in and around Mumbai.

915 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314 • (703) 684-1435 • www.tenthousandvillages.com/alexandria THE DOWNTOWN ISSUE • 57


VIP WEDDING

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Going to the Chapel of Love STORY BY LIESEL SCHMIDT PHOTOGRAPHY BY I'M MARY KATHERINE, LLC

When Abby Bird met Alex El-Fakir at a friend’s Christmas party in December of 2019, they could never have imagined that they would hit it off so well—or that a pandemic would happen only three months later. But despite the challenges of a quarantined world, the couple got to know each other—and fell in love. “We began dating in January 2020, and even with all the complications of COVID, it gave us a lot of time to spend together,” says Abby, who, like Alex, works in the government/non-profit sector. “Normally, Alex is usually on the road for significant periods of time for work, but because of travel being suspended, we were able to get to know each other very intentionally.” Nine months of dating proved to them both that they found something special in one another, and they knew that it was time to make it official. “We had talked about where our relationship was headed months before, and we both knew we wanted to get married,” says Abby, recalling the day in September 2020 that changed her life. “Since things had been so hectic with work, travel, and everything else, we decided to take a weekend trip to Charlottesville and get away from DC for a weekend. We

love that area of Virginia and enjoyed visiting wineries, good food, and the beautiful views of the Shenandoah, so I really thought he was going to propose—but nothing happened. On the drive back, he was really insistent that we find a ‘scenic overlook,’ and I remember thinking, ‘Oh, this is it.’ Still, he didn't propose, and I was a bit confused since I knew he was going to be leaving the following weekend for possibly two months of travel. I pushed my disappointment down and got on with the week thinking how much this was going to be a long wait until maybe Thanksgiving when we'd be in-person again and he could propose,” Abby explains. “The following Saturday came, and we made plans to go out for drinks that afternoon and then have dinner with close friends at their house in Maryland. Since Alex was leaving Sunday morning, we wouldn't have the opportunity to go to mass together, so we decided to stop by our parish, St. Rita's, to pray together before happy hour. We love this church, and it has been a central part of our lives, which is why Alex had planned to propose there. When I walked through the door, I saw a wedding happening, so I quickly tried to walk back out. Alex was super confused and kept saying that there THE DOWNTOWN ISSUE • 59


wasn't supposed to be a wedding, which I thought was a bit odd. Most Catholic weddings happen on Saturday." “We walked around to the front of the church and, sure enough, there was a wedding beginning. Poor Alex had called the church ahead of time to be sure we wouldn't be interrupting anyone for him to propose in the church and there seems to have been a clerical error. So Alex suggested that we would go to the shrine next to the church and pray there. It was odd to me that he was really curious what the plaque on the

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statue said, but it turned out that he had arranged for his roommates to be there to get photos, and he was trying to gesture to them to come around the side of the building. I was really thrown by seeing them there in suits with a camera. Then he got down on one knee and pulled out the most beautiful ring. It was the best moment.” Eight months later, on May 7, 2021, Abby and Alex had an even greater moment when Abby walked down the aisle at St. Rita's Catholic Church in Alexandria to meet her fiancé at the altar. Wearing an A-line backless short-sleeve dress with a boatneck that she found online from a boutique in Russia, Abby exchanged vows with Alex while their 13 bridesmaids and groomsmen stood in attendance. Having been pronounced man and wife, the newlyweds joined their guests at Union Street

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Public House for a reception of heavy hors d'oeuvres and a delicious variety of pies and pie-shaped cookies in lieu of cake—and a party to remember. “We were really touched by everyone being there, and it was such an amazing day. The best surprise was at the end of the evening when we had the DJ—the brother of one of my bridesmaids who was also a former roommate— play ‘The Parting Glass,’ and everyone came on the dance floor and sang it out loudly together. It was one of the best memories,” says Abby. “The afterparty at O'Connell’s was also super fun. I love Irish pubs, and it was the perfect ending to the day. One of the crazy things that happened was actually while Alex and I were walking around with the photographer to do the bridal portraits. People in Old Town were applauding and cheering for us, which was really sweet. Because it happened a lot, I didn't pay attention right away when someone yelled ‘I say yes to your dress!’ Next thing we know, Monte from Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta stops his car in the middle of a little road, runs over. and gushes over my dress. We even got some photos!” Having been sent off to start their honeymoon, the newly married El-Fakirs spent a week in Key West before coming home to Alexandria, happy to start their life together as husband and wife.

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VIP SUPERMOM

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AUGUST 2021 VIP SUPERMOM

Samia Gore MOTHER • WIFE • AUTHOR • NUTRITIONIST • ENTREPRENEUR

PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANTWON MAXWELL PHOTOGRAPHY

Before launching the first Black female-owned nutritional supplement company in the market, Samia Gore was already making headlines thanks to sharing her personal wellness journey with a large base of Instagram followers highlighting the challenges of losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle. The busy author, wife and mother of four sought safe, effective and organic supplements she could use on her own health journey as she battled to lose 80 pounds after giving birth to her last child. “I really became interested in health and wellness in my mid-30s when I realized my metabolism and energy levels were not what they used to be when I was young,” says Gore. “I wanted to be the best version of myself, both physically and mentally, for my kids and for myself. I wanted to make sure their mom would be here for a long time, which is why I started looking into natural alternatives.”

When she could not find what she was looking for on the market, Gore left her daytime job as a public servant to focus full-time on creating a natural solution for others, especially for women of color like herself. By 2017, Gore had created a natural solution with the help of renowned doctors, a Black female nutritionist, and a team of chemists. In just a few years, her company, Body Complete Rx (BCRX), became a successful wellness brand of plantbased, vegan supplements formulated with a complete wellness journey in mind. Gore’s self-funded wellness and lifestyle brand has grossed over $10 million in sales in just under four years and been credited for changing the lives of thousands of consumers worldwide. BCRX’s natural, vegan supplements, which enjoy a celebrity following, provide a range of benefits based on customers’ specific needs, including weight management, and improving

"I wanted to be the best version of myself, both physically and mentally, for my kids and for myself. I wanted to make sure their mom would be here for a long time..." - SAMIA GORE

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energy, skin health, and nutrition. Products include vegan protein powders, supplements, a Vitamin C serum, collagen-boosting powder, women and men’s multivitamins, and superfood bars. Over the last few years, Gore has pivoted to a new lifestyle as an entrepreneur shifting away from a traditional 9-5 schedule. Through this journey, she has realized the importance of a work-life balance and the delicate balance of motherhood and entrepreneurship. “A typical day for me starts with focusing the first couple of hours on self-care,” explains Gore. “When I wake up, I don’t check my email. Instead, I make it a priority to work out every single morning with a trainer. Once I’m done with my workout and ready to begin my workday, I create a list of daily goals and tasks I want to accomplish for the day, check my email, and check-in with my team to see what meetings are set for the day.

Every day as an entrepreneur is completely different, so some days I’m taking back-toback meetings, while other days I’m developing products with our chemist. At the end of the workday, I make sure to put all work-related things away and spend quality, uninterrupted time with my children and family.” Every day as an entrepreneur is completely different, so some days I’m taking back-to-back meetings, while other days I’m developing products with our chemist. At the end of the workday, I make sure to put all work-related things away and spend quality, uninterrupted time with my children and family.” Creating boundaries and having clear priorities has helped Gore become a better businesswoman and a 66 • VIP ALEXANDRIA MAGAZINE

better mom, who is more productive and present in all aspects of life. This month, Gore is launching her exclusive plant-based weight management supplements at The Vitamin Shoppe, making Body Complete Rx the first Black female-owned brand to launch in the retailer’s weight management category. Gore is also the only Black leader to sit on Vitamin Shoppe’s Wellness Council, an honor she hopes


will inspire her children to pursue their own dreams. “The process of getting our TRIM line of weight management supplements on the shelves at the Vitamin Shoppe has been extremely rewarding, but as a mom, the most gratifying part is sharing these milestones with my children, who have been my biggest supporters since day one,” explains Gore. “I work tirelessly for my business to thrive and succeed because I want to leave a legacy behind for my family.” Gore takes pride in all Body Complete Rx has accomplished in just a few, short years and hopes to be an example for her kids that anything is possible as she continues to break boundaries in the male-dominated, nutritional supplement industry and as a Black female entrepreneur. She also enjoys that her kids, now between the ages of 7 to 19, want to be more involved in her business, especially in sampling products and giving their honest feedback. Looking ahead, one thing is clear for Gore both as a mom and entrepreneur: life has many highs and lows, some days are good and others are challenging, but for every low she hits, Gore tells herself that she will soon reach a high, so she always keeps at it, no matter what life throws her way. “Owning a business and being a mom is all about the journey and you have to stay on for the ride,” she says.

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A Visitor’s Guide to Old Town Alexandria STORY BY LIESEL SCHMIDT

With history steeped into every cobblestone and building lining its streets, Old Town Alexandria is alive with stories from the past, while the more than 200 shops and restaurants that stand amidst museums keep the district bustling with life. From annual festivals to weekly events, the walkable waterfront downtown is the perfect place to see the city buzzing with activity that celebrates the heritage of the community and the culture of the people who make it so colorful. We’ve got the scoop on some of the best things to see and do on Old Town Alexandria’s waterfront.

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Cruises and Water Taxis Cruises and Water Taxis

As a historic port city and a hub for City Cruises, Alexandria is theport launch point for for water As a historic city and a hub City taxis Cruises, and sightseeing board at for Old water Town’staxis Alexandria isboats the that launch point marina. a cruiseboats to seethat national andTake sightseeing board landmarks at Old Town’s on the narrated Monuments marina. TakeWashington a cruise to see national Cruise landmarks onon thea narrated Washington Cruise or hop water taxi to ventureMonuments out to DC, the or hop on a or water taxi to venture out to DC, the National Harbor, George Washington’s Mount National Harbor, or George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Vernon. Credit: The City of Alexandria Credit: The City of Alexandria

King Street King Street

Considered to be the very heart of Alexandria, to be the heart of Alexandria, King Considered Street comprises a very walkable mile of King Street comprises a walkable mile of centuries-old architecture that now houses centuries-old architecture that now houses restaurants, boutiques, and museums—all of restaurants, boutiques, and museums—all which are serviced by the free King Street Trolley. of which are serviced by the free King Street Trolley. Credit: IG @oldtowntwo Credit: IG @oldtowntwo

Farmer’s Markets Farmer’s Markets

Credit:Credit: Visit Alexandria Visit Alexandria

Historic Dining Historic Dining With its renowned culinary scenescene and aand wide With its renowned culinary a wide varietyvariety of newofrestaurants, Alexandria is a new restaurants, Alexandria food is a food lover’slover’s paradise. Alexandria’s food food scenescene is paradise. Alexandria’s is amazing—heightened even more when the amazing—heightened even more when the restaurants have have a waterfront view. view. EnjoyEnjoy restaurants a waterfront stunning views views of the of Potomac River River whilewhile diningdining stunning the Potomac al fresco at Alexandria’s waterfront restaurants, al fresco at Alexandria’s waterfront restaurants, feasting on a on wide rangerange of delicious dishes feasting a wide of delicious dishes that showcase local talent and the of theof the that showcase local talent andbounty the bounty region’s waters. Restaurants away away from the region’s waters. Restaurants fromwater the water are just too. Visit independent areasjustimpressive as impressive too. Visit independent and chef-driven restaurants—many of which and chef-driven restaurants—many of which are are located in centuries-old historic buildings that will located in centuries-old historic buildings that will makefeel youlike feel like you’ve stepped intopast. the past. make you you’ve stepped into the

Like much of Alexandria, the Saturday morning Like much of Alexandria, the Saturday morning Old Town Farmer’s Market has history—260 Old Town Farmer’s Market has history—260 yearsyears of it, of in it,fact, making it one of the longest in fact, making it one of the longest continuously-operating farmer’s markets in the continuously-operating farmer’s markets in the nation. During the height of growing season, nation. During the height of growing season, the market hostshosts moremore thanthan 70 vendors offering the market 70 vendors offering fruits,fruits, vegetables, breads, cheeses, meats, andand vegetables, breads, cheeses, meats, more,more, all from locallocal growers and and makers. all from growers makers.

Credit: Harvest Credit: LocalLocal Harvest THE DOWNTOWN ISSUE • 69


Shopping If you’re looking for something unique rather than run-of-the-mill, shopping in Old Town is the perfect way to spend a day. More than 100 independentlyowned boutiques and shops line the historic streets on and around Kind Street, offering everything from designer shoes and clothing to home décor and luxurious gifts. Ask about in-store activities like DIY workshops and trunk shows, and plan a shopping trip you’ll never forget.

Credit: Visit Alexandria

Instagrammable Moments

Credit: Bosch Studios

If you love a good selfie opportunity, check out the latest installation in the City of Alexandria’s “Site See; New Views in Old Town” annual public art series. Running until November 2021 at Waterfront Park, the installation is a must for Instagrammers and photographers, as well as anyone who just wants a unique shot to post. Be sure to stop at Spite House, the skinniest historic house in America, and the Old Town Art Photo Walk. The city is filled with Insta-worthy stops, so go explore!

Black History At the heart of what was once Colonial America, Alexandria is steeped in African American history. The city offers tours, historic landmarks, and more that focus on African Americans who have shaped the history of Alexandria and the U.S. Go on the eight-sight Courageous Journey driving tour, walk the African American Heritage Trail, or check out the art that showcases Alexandria’s African American history. If you love food, take the Soul Food Saturday walking tour to learn about the African culinary influence on American cuisine, then explore some of the area’s Black-owned businesses. 70 • VIP ALEXANDRIA MAGAZINE

Credit: Manumission Tour Company


Bike Trails

Credit: R. Kennedy

Alexandria has some amazing landscapes, making it perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. 20 miles of trails and more than 900 acres of protected open space, including eight waterfront parks, make it perfect for intrepid explorers, while the nearly 18-mile-long Mount Vernon Trail that stretches from George Washington’s Mount Vernon alongside the scenic Potomac River to the monuments and memorials in DC make it a must for cyclists and runners. Rental bikes are available.

George Washington’s Mount Vernon George Washington spent a great deal of time in Alexandria, so the city has more than 140 locations associated with our first president. Head eight miles south of Old Town to George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Explore the mansion, beautiful gardens and grounds, fascinating museum galleries, and the distillery and gristmill. You’ll feel like you’ve walked through a part of history. Credit: George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Credit: lovicarious.com

Ghost Tours Founded in 1749, naturally Alexandria has a haunted history. Take one of the many guided ghost tours and roam through graveyards, explore haunted neighborhoods, and visit historic spots famous for their supernatural legends. THE DOWNTOWN ISSUE • 71


SALUTE TO SERVICE

STORY BY LIESEL SCHMIDT PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEFF HEENEY

HOMES FOR OUR TROOPS FUNDRAISER BENEFITTING MARINE CORPORAL KEVORK “KHACH” KHACHADURIAN

H

ops N Shine, locally owned by C.J. Cross, hosted a very special fundraiser event on July 18 for Homes for Our Troops. The event specifically focused on local Marine Corporal Kevork “Khach” Khachadurian, who was on a three-day mission as an infantry rifleman with the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, in Sangin, Afghanistan. It was there he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) and immediately lost both his legs, several fingers on his left hand, as well as took damage to his left forearm. Now medically retired, Corporal Khachadurian keeps himself very busy. He is a Veterans support representative with the VA, he plays seated volleyball and is also on the USA Warriors Sled Hockey Team. He has stated that a specially-adapted custom home would be the foundation for the rest of his life and allow him to put more energy into furthering his career and helping other veterans.

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Since 2004, Homes for Our Troops has provided 315 specially-adapted homes nationwide. What makes them stand out from other non-profit charities is that they stay with the Veterans after home delivery. They provide a pro-bono financial planner for three years to assist in financial planning and household budgeting. They also provide homeownership education as well as warranty coverage to ensure that the Veteran is set up for long-term success as a homeowner. They also allow previous recipients to mentor those currently receiving a new specially-adapted home, which not only includes the Veterans but also their spouses. Many of the previous recipients have gone on to become motivational speakers, sharing their message of persevering through tragedy around the country. Some even take their message on a national level to promote awareness of Veteran suicide, homelessness, and PTSD. Homes for Our Troops has received the highest possible rating of 4 stars from Charity Navigator and has an A rating with Charity Watch. They are also a platinum-level GuideStar participant, demonstrating their commitment to transparency, and meet all 20 criteria markers for the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance. Their dedication to helping our injured troops rebuild their lives is truly amazing! Hops N Shine and Homes for Troops threw a stellar event that included beer, cocktails, and amazing BBQ! To help raise money, there was a raffle held with prizes provided by local sponsors. The event was a huge success raising a total of $5,114.07, which will go a long way in helping to provide Corporal Khachadurian with the foundation he needs to rebuild his life. "I'm so proud of the Alexandria community that we were able to raise over $5,000 to help support Marine Corporal Kevork, who lost both of his legs in combat in Afghanistan," said Joe Erfe, Co-Founder of SULTR. "We are grateful for his service to our country. As a tech company based in Alexandria, it was great to work with fellow local VA businesses, Homes for Our Troops, Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie #871, and VIP Alexandria Magazine. We look forward to continuing the momentum of this event to help our local community."

"It was great to see the local Alexandria community including The Fraternal Order of Eagles 871 step up and contribute so much towards building a house for Marine Corporal Kevork Khachadurian. Homes For Our Troops is a nationwide organization that builds specially adapted custom homes for severely injured post 9/11 veterans, to enable them to rebuild their lives. It’s an organization I strongly believe in and I am very happy with the response the community has given.“ - JOE KASPER, EVENT COORDINATOR

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HOMES FOR OUR TROOPS, PLEASE VISIT WWW.HFOTUSA.ORG. TO DONATE DIRECTLY TO THE NEW HOME OF MARINE CORPORAL KEVORK “KHACH” KHACHADURIAN AND OTHER AMERICAN HEROES LIKE HIM, PLEASE VISIT WWW.HFOTUSA.ORG/BUILDING-HOMES/VETERANS/KHACHADURIAN THE DOWNTOWN ISSUE • 73


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HOMES FOR OUR TROOPS FUNDRAISER


Helping protect the front lines every day. Since the start of the pandemic, U.S. Air Force veteran Chris has led 3M’s collaboration with the DC-based FEMA COVID-19 Supply Chain Task Force to help ensure that U.S. healthcare workers are protected when it matters most. Learn more about 3M’s commitment at 3M.com/Together. 3M and “3M Science. Applied to Life.” are trademarks of 3M

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