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Business Matters

Standing Room Only

Seating is now on the menu at Del Ray Pizzeria, where customers can order thin-crust pizza in a restaurant with thick selection of chairs. Last weekend, members of the Alexandria City Council approved an amended special-use permit that increased the number of seats from 32 indoor seats and 12 outdoor seats to 82 indoor seats, 20 outdoor seats and 30 special-event seats.

“Out of full public disclosure, I would like to make mention that I have no ownership in this restaurant but I did have dinner there last night,” said Mayor Bill Euille during Saturday’s public hearing. “I had to stand because there weren’t enough chairs to sit in.”

Earlier this year, city officials discovered that the Mount Vernon Avenue pizza joint was packing in about twice as many patrons as their special-use permit allowed. City decided to work with the restaurant rather than shutting it down. And during last weekend’s public hearing, the owner of the restaurant appeared before elected officials to plead for mercy.

“There weren’t any excuses for those violations,” said Erik Dorn, owner of Del Ray Pizzeria. “And we do have steps in place to make sure there are no more violations.”

Del Ray Pizzeria got its extra seating, and the mayor got his pizza.

Bringing Home the Oysters

Speaking of food, everybody has a favorite restaurant. For Councilman Rob Krupicka, it’s Hank’s Oyster Bar. Or, perhaps more specifically, that’s the choice of his daughters. So when the King Street restaurant was asking council members to approve expanding seating from 60 to 89 seats, Krupicka was more than happy to make the motion.

“Is this a conflict of interest?” asked Councilwoman Del Pepper.

“I asked the city attorney,” responded Krupicka. “He said because I pay them money as opposed to getting money from them, it’s not a conflict.”

Roasting the Beans

Who was M.E. Swing? City Council members learned last weekend that he was a businessman from the early 20th century whose business will occupy the old Gold Crust Bakery building — a business that shuttered after a double murder in which the Alexandria Police Department refused to hand over documents to the family member of a murder victim.

These days, there’s a bit more sunshine on the building. The police department’s lack of transparency in the murder case did not extend to the public hearing process for the coffee roaster, which was subject to a public process denied to the victim’s family.

“This is a company that’s been around since 1916, and it’s named for the original owner, Michael Edward Swing,” David Chamowitz, attorney for the applicant, told the mayor during Saturday’s public hearing. “So I’ll buy you a cup of coffee and tell you more about it sometime.”

Combing the Beach

Six years ago, city officials purchased the old Beachcomber Restaurant — a key spot on the waterfront just south of Waterfront Park. Now some are concerned that the city may be considering leasing the facility to a business for use as a restaurant.

“By leasing the building, you’ve not going to get the full value,” said Townsend Van Fleet, former president of the Old Town Civic Association. “You should sell the building and put the money back in the open-space fund.”

“Personally, I think he makes a good suggestion,” said Vice Mayor Kerry Donley of Van Fleet’s commentary. “We should have some discussion about whether we want to be the landlord down there or whether we want to sell it outright.”