Alexandria, VA – Enjoying the weather? It might be nice to sit outside. The Alexandria City Council unanimously approved the request of a special use permit for Del Ray Gardens, a beer garden and restaurant at the former GreenStreet Gardens at 1503-1505 Mount Vernon Ave. Council approved 100 outdoor seated or standing patrons for the 971-square-foot restaurant, with the ability for 20 more outdoor seats in the future with the consent of city planning staff. Del Ray Gardens will include space for lawn games, and will include outdoor televisions and speakers.
“I’m actually excited for this place to open,” City Councilor Canek Aguirre said at the April 13 public hearing. “There isn’t a lot of outdoor seating in Alexandria, and this clearly creates a really nice place.
Del Ray Gardens is owned by Jeremy Barber and Justus Frank, the owners of Charlie’s On The Avenue next door to the property, and Live Oak Restaurant on Commonwealth Ave. City Council reduced the recommended number of seats from the planning commission’s unanimous recommendation of 155, which was a steep increase from the 64 outdoor seats that the applicant initially requested. Restaurant staff will also be required to control litter by picking up outdoor trash on the ground at least three times a day.
Land use attorney Cathy Puskar represented Barber and Frank, and said that more outdoor seats allows for the business to thrive.
“The more seats we have, the more hours, the more flexibility a business has, the better the opportunity to succeed,” Puskar said. “If you come to Del Ray and you go to The Front Porch on a Friday or a Saturday, there is a line that started at about 4:30 for people to grab those 40-some seats that are in that outdoor dining [area].”
Councilor Del Pepper proposed the 100-seat limit, and said that the planning commission’s recommendation of 155 seats was too many.
“That sounds like a real jump to 155 people, while it really hadn’t been vetted in the community,” said Pepper.
Del Ray Gardens will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and the building at 1503 will be renovated to include two bathrooms, a kitchen, food service station and storage area. An eight-foot fence will separate the rear of the property from neighboring residential homes, and an outdoor gaming area in the rear will be 45 feet from the fence line.
Del Ray resident Sarah Haute said that the community should have been given time to discuss the proposed increase from 64 outdoor seats to 155 seats, and that such an approval would have an impact on neighboring residential homes.
“I’m frustrated and disappointed that the community did not have an opportunity to participate in this discussion,” she said.
Puskar said that her clients have shown that they are good neighbors who “make sure they are not violating the community trust.”