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Column: The BBQ Princess

Frances* has spent all 61 years of her life in Alexandria though she has moved at least eight times over the years. From Patrick Street to Henry, Cameron Valley to Old Town, Fulton Street to Hume Springs … she now owns her home in the Mount Jefferson neighborhood. She has such fond memories of the city, she can’t imagine living anywhere else.

During her childhood, Frances’ father held many jobs in and around Alexandria, including a cab driver, demolition contractor, restaurateur of seafood and sandwich shops, and, most proudly, the owner of a BBQ restaurant at the corner of Queen and Henry streets. Back in the day, her dad was known as the "barbeque king,"’ making Frances the "barbeque princess" on the days she helped her father in the eatery. They made pulled pork, ribs, and chicken, along with potato salad, cole slaw, and "hand cut fried potatoes." And while Frances’ mother thought her father was a great chef, she always noted what a huge mess he made in their kitchen at home. Now in her own home, Frances would like to host a BBQ party under the big umbrella in her back yard.

Over the years, Frances has seen many changes to Mount Vernon Avenue. She remembers a drug store, two beauty parlors, a Chinese restaurant, a florist, thrift shop, and Al’s Steak House. She loves the addition of Cheesetique and the Dairy Godmother and sometimes treats herself to both. At one point in its history, her church was even housed on Mount Vernon Avenue in a small building on what is now home for Eclectic Nature.

And while the storefronts and some neighbors have changed, Frances loves her house and hopes to stay in this "friendly, comfortable" city in which she has spent her entire life. Helping maintain Frances’s home is volunteer-based Rebuilding Together Alexandria, providing home repair services free of charge that keep her warm, safe, and able to invite friends over for a BBQ!

*It is Rebuilding Together Alexandria's policy to not disclose full names. Rebuilding Together Alexandria is an award winning, non-profit organization dedicated to repairing and revitalizing homes at no charge for homeowners in need, including elderly, disabled, military veterans, and families. To date, in-kind donations of labor and materials have resulted in $6 million worth of value on nearly 1,600 properties. If you would like to apply, volunteer or donate, visit www.RebuildingTogetherAlex.org or call 703-836-1021.