Mayor sees signs of economic recovery in restaurant projects

By Derrick Perkins

Resident Connie Desrosiers’ plans to transform a Hume Avenue home into a combination wine bar and coffee shop got the green light from city council earlier this month.

Desrosiers, who bought the property at 106 Hume Ave. about a year ago, already has renovated a portion of the building into apartments. She wants to remake and expand the remainder into Emma’s, which she described as a low-key gathering spot for neighbors looking for good fare and conversation.
When finished, Emma’s will boast 58 seats — 18 outdoors — for patrons hankering for coffee, wine and live music.

The proposal received the planning commission’s approval despite protest from her neighbor, Epiphany Productions. A company representative worried noise from the cafe would lower their property values and disrupt their workflow.

No one spoke against the proposal at January 12′s public hearing.

City council also approved a project to turn a 3401 Mount Vernon Ave. building into a restaurant featuring Mexican and Salvadorian cuisine. After a previous concept to raze the former beauty salon and build a Peruvian chicken eatery fell apart several years ago, Jose Mario Cabero and Jose Guillermo Cabero opted to renovate the building as a taco restaurant.

City staff backed the project — which likewise received the planning commission’s approval earlier this month — telling city councilors the restaurant would increase activity and restore the rundown building. The Caberos envision the restaurant offering 28 seats, with 12 located on an outdoor patio for customers.

The projects struck Mayor Bill Euille as a sign of the economy’s recovery and a good bellwether for Alexandria.

“It’s good to see that we are seeing commercial uses going in vacant spaces, not only on The Avenue but anywhere in the city,” he said. “These spaces have been vacant for quite a long while. Hopefully it’s a positive sign; we’re seeing not only an uptick in the economy, but the fact that business people are wanting to take risks here in the City of Alexandria.”

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