Thursday, August 27, 2015

Break-ins at BloomBars, Meridian Pint, Colony Club, others

 There's been a bit of a crime wave on 11th Street lately, as crooks have struck BloomBars, the nonprofit arts space, Colony Club and Meridian Pint in the last week or so.

In the case of BloomBars, the jackass broke their window with a rock and took their donations box. Amusingly, BloomBars published their surveillance video on Youtube with some funny captions and made an arts installation out of the rock he threw. BloomBars, being a nonprofit, also has a link for donations to deal with the losses.

I also heard from a reader who said Meridian Pint was burglarized in a similar way a few nights ago, but the crooks didn't get away with much.

Borderstan reports that Colony Club was hit too, and other places on the 3200 block of Georgia, and police think it's the same person committing all the robberies.

The same reader who told me about Meridian Pint says they were accosted a few times on the street and threatened to be robbed, once on 14th Street in broad daylight with people around, when a man got in their face and said "give me some money, bitch!" But since there were people around, so they just walked away.

It's unclear if the person who accosted the reader is the same person as the burglar, but considering how stupid all of these sounds, I wouldn't be surprised.

And I can't find the link now, but I seem to remember something similar a few years ago at other 11th Street businesses -- maybe Room 11?

It's also a good reminder that even if you don't think the police can catch somebody who does something to you, to call the police. They'll keep a record of it, which can help them see patterns or move officers around to address crime sprees.

The Colony Club folks put their security camera footage online too.

If you know anything about these robberies, or see or hear anything suspicious, especially people milling around businesses late at night, make sure to call the police.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

WMATA plans to help the 16th 14th, 11th, and Georgia Ave buses, cut 5A to Dulles

Some big news on the bus front: WMATA reports that they are planning to increase service on buses that run on 16th, 14th, 11th, Sherman and Georgia Avenues. Specifically these are the S9, 54, 63 & 64 and 79 buses - 16th Street, 14th Street, 11th Street/Sherman Ave and Georgia Avenue, respectively.

They will be adding more buses on most of the lines, while the 54 bus route will be shortened to end downtown, so that more buses will be able to travel the much more popular portion from Takoma through Columbia Heights to McPherson Square downtown. Right now the bus continues from downtown to L'Enfant Plaza.

There's a lot of other changes proposed too for other lines, such as eliminating altogether the 5A which goes to Dulles Airport. Curbed has the full list of changes.

To me, these are good steps, though I wish there were an express bus on 14th Street as well and also eliminate about half the stops, as the buses currently stop on basically every block. Here are the proposed changes.
54 14th Street Line
Proposed Change: Shorten route by eliminating section between McPherson Square and L'Enfant Plaza; increase how often buses arrive between Takoma and McPherson Square
Reason: Too few riders south of McPherson Square and too many between Takoma Station and McPherson Square 
63 Takoma-Petworth Line
Proposed Change: Add one AM peak trip
Reason: Reduce crowding 
64 Fort Totten-Petworth Line
Proposed Change: Add one AM peak trip and one PM peak trip; add more time for buses to get from one end to the other
Reason: Reduce crowding; help buses be more on time 
79 Georgia Avenue MetroExtra Line
Proposed Change: Add four AM peak and four PM peak trips
Reason: Reduce crowding 
S9 16th Street MetroExtra Line
Proposed Change: Add two AM peak trips and one PM peak trip
Reason: Reduce crowding

Monday, August 24, 2015

Combatting package theft one building at a time: Package Concierge at the Allegro

I've written a lot about package theft in the neighborhood: people stealing packages off your doorstep or from your building's foyer. It's super annoying and the crooks rarely seems to be caught, since they can do it so quickly.  (Although, thankfully, they do get busted sometimes.)

Some folks resort to sending their packages to their work. A few weeks ago, I got an email about an electronic locker system called Package Concierge that is installed at apartment and condo buildings to manage, track and secure packages and other mail delivered to buildings. That seemed interesting to me, so I asked more about it. The folks at the Allegro on 14th Street, where it's installed, answered a few questions.

Can you talk about how this system works? 
Package Concierge is a technology-based system that uses sophisticated software to operate the digital kiosk, as well as an RFID reader to control locker access and a barcode scanner to read package tracking information. The system also includes online portals for both residents and management to view activity and manage accounts.

Despite all this technology, the process to deliver and retrieve a package is simple. A carrier scans his badge at the kiosk and selects the resident’s name and then places the package in the correct size locker. The resident then receives notification via text or email that a package is ready for retrieval. They can retrieve their package at any time 24/7 knowing it is safely stored in the Package Concierge.

Is it new? Is it for any kind of mail? What kind of space does it require? 
Package Concierge launched its first system in Washington, D.C. in November 2013, and is being adopted in multifamily communities across the country. The system is specifically designed to handle packages versus standard mail, but accepts deliveries from USPS, UPS, FedEx and every other carrier.

The system is modular and highly flexible; a property can configure a “U” or “L” shape or even a split system. System size varies based on the physical footprint of the property, the number of units and average number of packages handled. A small property can start with a five-tower system that includes 34 lockers and is approximately seven feet in length.

Why did The Allegro choose this kind of system? 
The Allegro is an 297 unit luxury apartment community. The property has a full-time concierge, but has a challenge handling larger and oversized packages behind the concierge desk area. The Allegro purchased a system with medium-sized lockers to handle these particular packages. The concierge loads excess packages into the system on a frequent basis and reports that residents love the convenience and ease of use.

Can homeowners subscribe to it, or is it more for apartment buildings? 
Package Concierge is specifically designed to serve the unique needs of multifamily and student housing communities.

Who pays for it? 
The apartment ownership pays for the system to be installed as well as a monthly software or maintenance fee. Some properties will charge an amenity fee to residents to use the system, typically a nominal annual fee.

Where else is the system used? 
There are currently more than 25 apartment communities using the Package Concierge system in the D.C. area and more than 150 across the country.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Cove coworking space moving to the Tivoli Theatre

There's a new option for working in our neighborhood. Cove, the coworking space at 14th and Meridian, is moving down the street to the Tivoli Theatre building at 14th and Park. They're taking over the space formerly occupied by Destiny Deve salon.

Here's more from them!
cove Columbia Heights is moving, and it's an upgrade!

To make productive more convenient and better take advantage of the neighborhood, cove is moving its current Columbia Heights location at 1402 Meridian Pl NW to 3343 14th St NW in mid-August. cove is committed to being a neighborhood productive space, providing locations in the heart of the neighborhood that are accessible and near the main attractions and delicious places to fuel up.

The new cove Columbia Heights will have two floors and sit right off 14th Street, one block north of the metro station, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Columbia Heights. It will feature a self-serve coffee bar area with high-top stools, 32 desks, a comfortable lounge section, two call booths, two four-seat conference rooms, and the usual cove amenities (unlimited beverages, color printing/scanning, reliable wifi).

Once the space opens in August, cove will be hosting several open houses and events welcoming the entire community to check out this new location.


cove has eight neighborhood productive spaces across the DC area, where people pop into our physical locations to get things done. cove has everything you need to be productive—unlimited beverages, fast wifi, color printing/scanning, and reservable conference rooms. Powered by user­-friendly technology, members can track their usage, make reservations, share interests and skills, and connect with cove's community.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Airedale opening soon: whiskey soft serve, Monte Cristo sandwiches, schnitzel, more

UPDATE: It's now open!

I've written a few times about the Airedale, the new European gastropub coming to 14th Street NW just south of Spring Road, where Mad Momo's was before. The other day I saw a few folks working there and they invited me in to tell me more.

It turns out they were the co-owners, Ben Jordan and Baback Salimi. Ben is a former schoolteacher and Baback worked at many bars and restaurants for years, most recently the great Quarry House in Silver Spring (which is owned by the same folks as El Chucho on 11th Street.) Ben described it as a family business, as his dad and brother are also partners.

They said they plan to open this month, which means pretty soon, and showed me around the space, which looks great. The idea is to make a neighborhood bar and restaurant where you can come by, hang out, have some food or a drink or watch a game. As I've written before, it's a European gastropub, and they filled me in on more details, which is mostly (but not wholly) German and Belgian: schnitzel, poutine, fish and chips, a Monte Cristo (deep fried sandwich with Lambrusco wine jelly, which apparently no one on staff can resist) and a Belgian sandwich called a mitraillette (which means "machine gun") consisting of a burger, pork sausage, Belgian mayo, ketchup and topped with pommes frites (Belgian fries) in a long bun. Sounds amazing.

They also planned to have brunch as well -- some similar items, plus more traditional brunch fare and specialty brunch cocktails.

They'll have 16 taps, with 15 beers and a prosecco, which means they can make a lot of champagne cocktails. The beers would be half set (DC Brau and Breckenridge IPA were some ideas) and half rotating depending on the season plus a house-made Radler with beer and grapefruit juice. There would be a strong cocktail program plus happy hour deals like $1 or $2 off draft beers.

And another cool item: they have a softserve ice cream machine and have been perfecting an Old Overholt whiskey soft serve -- the idea is for it to have a bit of a taste of the whiskey, but not too much. It would be the equivalent of a shot. I'm excited to try it.

And being a European pub, they plan to show soccer, such as the German Bundesliga and English Premier League, Formula One and European MotoGP motorcycle races, and even the Eurovision Song Contest. There wouldn't be a certain team affiliation, and they planned to have the sports packages for those games, plus a number of nice, big TVs (I saw some already, they were pretty impressive.)

The inside has changed a lot as well -- they replaced all the furniture, many with hand made wood tables and benches, and added seats in the front window space, which was formerly a kind of weird lounge, plus more seating in the upstairs, which seems a lot more open (they removed some of the drop ceiling, exposing wood beams and such.) It's a really nice interior with nice fixtures, much more airy and light than Mad Momo's.

The back beer garden area upstairs has more shade, and they revamped the bathrooms and bar areas as well.

They do have a music permit, but said it would be slowly ramped up. Ben did mention some Oktoberfest specials as well, which I'm excited about.

In short, it sounds like an awesome idea, and somewhere I'd go frequently. It seems like a great addition to the neighborhood, and stay tuned for more info on the opening dates!

The Airedale is at 3605 14th Street NW.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Columbia Heights Farmers Market is open Wednesdays after work too, and it's great

Something I forgot until I ran into it the other day is that the Columbia Heights Farmers Market on the Civic Plaza is now open on Wednesdays from 4 to 7:30pm. It's a great way to get some food to cook after work, or just a little snack. The vendors are basically the same as the main Saturday market, with maybe a couple fewer, and it's nice to wander around in any case.

The market is at the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza at the intersection of 14th, Park and Kenyon, and the Saturday market is open 9am-1pm.

They'll be open until December, if last year is any indication.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Too bad: 3 Salsas taqueria out of business

Some sad news for taco fans: Three Salsas, the takeout Mexican taqueria at 3439 14th Street NW, is now closed. A reader sent in a photo of the storefront, which is covered in plywood and has a for rent sign on it.

I was a fan of the spot, they had tasty tacos and were nice folks. Then again, there are multiple spots nearby, like Taqueria Distrito Federal and the new (and fantastic) Taqueria Habanero just blocks away.

I'll let you know when I find out more, and I wish the 3 Salsas folks the best of luck in the future.