Emma’s gets planning commission’s OK

Emma’s gets planning commission’s OK
City of Alexandria

By Derrick Perkins

Connie Desrosiers’ year long dream of turning a Hume Avenue home into a coffee and wine bar got a little closer to reality last week when the planning commission backed the concept.

Desrosiers bought the 106 Hume Ave. building about a year ago and converted a portion of the building into rental apartments. She hopes to renovate and expand a portion of the building to house Emma’s, a low-key wine and coffee joint with outdoor seating.

“From the moment I saw the place… the vision was a mixed-use property and I wanted to have a coffee shop,” Desrosiers told the planning commission. “I think it will be a real asset to that end of Del Ray. I think it will provide a community gathering spot that’s not necessarily available at that end.”

Desrosiers, a city resident, envisions a 58-seat restaurant – 18 located outdoors – with occasional live music offering coffee, wine and beer to patrons. The café would shut down at 10 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Planning department staff supports the project.

Still, the proposal was not without detractors. Speaking on behalf of neighbor Julie Wadler, owner of Epiphany Productions, Peggy Lively worried the restaurant would prove disruptive and costly to the nearby management and fundraising company.

“The plan to provide outdoor sitting immediately adjacent to our building… is unacceptable,” Lively said. “The noise will severely impede our ability to work and drastically diminish the value of our property.”

But Desrosiers described her restaurant as a place for neighbors to get together — not a saloon.

“We are not fine dining,” she said. “We do not want to be another Del Ray café. We do not want to be a bar. We really want to be a community-gathering place where folks come, have a beverage, have conversation, enjoy good company. … It really is meant to be a quiet sort of spot within the community.”

Planning commission members saw it likewise, voting unanimously to send the project to city council. The city’s top elected officials will take up the project later this month.