Axios D.C.

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Happy Tuesday!

🌧 Today's weather: Rainy, especially in the morning. High 62.

Today's newsletter is 959 words — a 4-minute read.

1 big thing: 🚚 The food truck fix

PhoWheels food truck.
Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios

Throughout the pandemic, restaurant owners have turned to food trucks for survival by literally meeting diners where they are: working and eating at home. 

What’s happening: You might’ve noticed a steady stream of restaurants-on-wheels stopping by your neighborhood these last two years. Most local food trucks have left downtown streets behind and have migrated to residential areas instead. 

Meanwhile, the fleet of trucks in the District has expanded — to 198 as of last month.

  • According to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, which monitors the industry, that was a 21.5% increase from April 2020.

Why it matters: The pandemic has been absolutely brutal for restaurants, and even with more diners out and about, the industry still faces a raft of headwinds. But food trucks are helping some business owners stay afloat, all while bringing dinner to our doorsteps.   

What they’re saying: PhoWheels owner Tuan Vo says his truck is bringing in more revenue now than before the pandemic. He’s also seen an increase in private bookings for weddings, festivals, and birthday parties. 

  • Vo says that pre-pandemic, the truck would usually be booked only one or two months in advance, but he’s currently booked on most Fridays and Saturdays until November.

Pepe, a food truck by José Andrés, has shifted to focusing on private and community events during the pandemic. Sous chef José Rivera emailed Axios that the truck is "incredibly busy" and is open now more than it was before the pandemic.

Yes, but: The food truck fix hasn’t endured for everyone. The mobile businesses are expensive to maintain and tough to staff.

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken owner Elliot Spaisman says the early days of the pandemic were lucrative for his truck: “It was wild those first couple months.” But revenue slowed as the pandemic continued.

  • He shuttered the truck last fall due to staffing issues and pricey repairs. 

Similarly, Roaming Roster cut its fleet of four food trucks to two. 

Read the full story.

2. Commanders eye Woodbridge

Site B is in Woodbridge. Data: WUSA9/Axios research. Map: Will Chase/Axios

The Washington Commanders acquired the option to purchase 200 acres along I-95 in Woodbridge for about $100 million — but have not bought the land yet, contradicting earlier media reports.

Why it matters: It’s the clearest indication yet that the team is seriously considering putting its new stadium in Virginia, where lawmakers are weighing $350 million in public support for the project.

  • But state Sen. Scott Surovell of Fairfax told the Washington Post that the team had not yet purchased the land. State Sen. Jeremy McPike told WUSA9 the same. That's a big difference from what ESPN and other outlets had reported early yesterday.

Yes, but: Other sites remain under consideration, including the team’s current home at FedEx Field in Maryland as well as sites in Loudoun County and Dumfries, writes Axios Richmond's Ned Oliver.

The intrigue: Plans call for a $3-billion “mini-city” that would incorporate a stadium, an amphitheater, housing, and office space, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

  • Renderings obtained by the newspaper show “a futuristic stadium that can change colors, a translucent roof that would allow natural light while climate-controlled, and a new team headquarters.”

Quick take: Traffic. Traffic. Traffic. Discussions have already turned to the potential impact a Woodbridge stadium would have on an already miserable stretch of I-95. (Remember when people got stuck for two days because it snowed a bit?)

What’s next: The Commanders have been aiming for a 2027 opening, but it’s anyone's guess when they’ll finalize their plans.

  • Virginia lawmakers are expected to vote on tax incentives for the team when they return to Richmond next week. So far, the legislation has sailed through hearings and floor votes.

3. 👍 Mary Cheh reveals Ward 3 vote

Photo of Tricia Duncan standing outside
Tricia Duncan. Photo: Courtesy of campaign

Ward 3 Council member Mary Cheh said she's supporting Tricia Duncan to take her seat in a crowded election.

Why it matters: Cheh's support is a major development in the race of nine Democrats, as several candidates jockey to break out with less than a month until the primary elections.

  • Top issues in the affluent ward — which stretches from quiet Foxhall Village to the busy Connecticut Avenue corridor — include student overcrowding at highly sought-after public schools, a lack of affordable housing, and expanding transit and bicycle access.

What they're saying: "Tricia is smart, energetic, knows the issues, and actually listens to residents’ concerns," Cheh said about the former president of the Palisades Community Association. "She’s been involved in her local community and active in school matters."

State of play: Meanwhile, local schools advocate Matt Frumin gained the endorsement of Ruth Wattenberg, the Ward 3 representative on the State Board of Education.

  • "Among candidates who care about these issues, he is the one with the clearest path to victory," Wattenberg said in a statement.

Read the full story.

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4. Around the Beltway: Back in service

Illustration of a Washington Metro sign edited to read "Around the Beltway."
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🚇 Train school has concluded and 72 WMATA train operators are back to work, improving service on the Green and Yellow lines. (DCist)

🚨 Police are searching for a person they say shot and killed a man inside a tent in an encampment at Thomas Circle. (Washington Post)

🍺 A New Yorker has revived the Post Pub. (Washington Post)

👗 A judge has halted the auction by Catholic University of a dress worn by Judy Garland in "The Wizard of Oz." (WTOP)

5. 🏊 Take the plunge

a pool sign
The newest addition to D.C.'s public pools. Photo courtesy of the Department of Parks and Recreation.

It’s happening: The Department of Parks and Recreation outdoor pools reopen this weekend.

Why it matters: It’s warm outside.

What to know: The pools will open Saturday and will remain open throughout the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

  • They will be on a weekend-only schedule through June 26.
  • After that, pools will operate on individual schedules throughout the summer.
  • Check out the full list of times and where to find pools here.

Of note: This is the first year that Ward 3 has an outdoor pool: the Hearst Pool opens this weekend behind Sidwell Friends School.

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