Building bonanza near McNair draws food vendors for construction crews

During the pandemic, a food vendor told fellow merchant Pedro Banegas, 59, who uses an electric wheelchair, that he had a surprise for him.

Later, the good Samaritan drove to his house and handed him the keys to a 2007 van, which Banegas has been using for nearly a year, the merchant says. He’s currently been selling snacks and drinks to construction workers on job sites near McNair along Sunrise Valley Drive.

He’s not the only one doing so out of a van, and food trucks also make stops to catch workers’ breaks. They have plenty of customers. A Donohoe Construction Co. spokesperson said they average 160 to 190 workers on the site each day near the Innovation Center Station.

Banegas regularly parks his maroon-colored vehicle on the curb at multiple job sites after making the commute from the Falls Church area where he lives. He doesn’t always like sharing about his personal life, but his children are in their 30s. He wakes up at 4 a.m. and takes the weekends off, going to church on Sundays.

He buys snack pack boxes to get a variety of chips like Doritos and Cheetos, and customers make their own coffee with a mix he provides along with an orange and white beverage dispenser filled with hot water.

Two of his merchant stops include building sites where tower cranes have been: one for a 274-unit affordable housing development called Ovation at Arrowbrook by Centreville Road and another for the Brightview Senior Living facility that Donohoe is building.

A third site he visits includes the 155 townhomes and condominiums that Stanley Martin is building by office buildings. He sticks to those sites, but other nearby construction includes a six-story multifamily development, Passport NoVA, as well as retail and luxury residence along Dulles Station Boulevard for a development called Makers Rise.

Banegas says he operated heavy equipment before he lost his right leg. Now, selling chips and coffee helps him get by. Other food vendors give him food for his own meals, too, as they work by construction sites.

Whether it’s a familiar or unfamiliar face, he greets people with a smile and chatter, both in English and Spanish, which translates well with numerous construction workers doing the same.

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