Monday, June 29, 2015

Big 4th of July celebration at Old Soliders Home: games, food, beer, music, fun for kids, lots more!

Independence Day is upon us, and the Old Soliders Home (officially the Armed Forces Retirement Home) off Rock Creek Church Road is holding their annual 4th of July celebration.

The home is a beautiful green campus with rolling hills and trees, and a great place to watch the fireworks. Their event has lots fun things, including a community softball game starting at 4:30 pm (with equipment provided.) There's also food trucks, games for kids, music, beer and a lot more.

Click the flyer above for the full rundown. You enter the home at Rock Creek Church Road NW and Randolph Street NW.

Friday, June 26, 2015

14th Street bus fills with noxious fumes this morning, everybody evacuates

Well, this made for an exciting commute.

This morning around 10:30 I was sitting at the back of the 54 bus going south when all of a sudden I smelled noxious fumes and started coughing. It was a bit hard to breathe and everyone around me started coughing too. We spontaneously stood up and headed to the front of the bus, away from where the chemical smell seemed to be coming from. The bus driver saw everyone moving to the front and immediately pulled the bus over, opened all the doors and told everybody to evacuate.

We couldn't see any smoke, and only some of us smelled it, but everyone was coughing. It smelled kind of like gasoline, but much more unpleasant and irritating.

It was a pretty scary situation. Most people seemed to be ok, if a little shaken, but the bus driver (who had stayed on a bit longer making sure everybody was off) complained that her face and throat stung. Another older woman received oxygen when the police and fire department arrived. Thankfully there were only about 15 people on the bus and no little kids or frail people.

I called 911 as the driver called Metro, and within a couple minutes (maybe less) fire trucks, an ambulance, Metro staff and MPD showed up. They asked us all what happened and how we felt. Then the older lady and I think the bus driver went to the hospital. The fire department people asked us all multiple times if we wanted to go to the hospital, if we were sure, and so on, which was appreciated it, but everybody said they were ok.

I was sitting in the back near a family, closest to where the smell seemed to be coming from, and we guessed that it was some kind of mechanical problem that caused a chemical from the engine to go through the air conditioning system. A firefighter said the same thing.

The firefighters couldn't detect any chemical when they went on the bus, maybe because it dissipated when the doors were opened, but said they plan to try to figure out what it was. They asked us if we saw anybody spray anything, and none of us did. There weren't that many people on the bus so we would have noticed.

The firefighters and police took our info and after maybe 45 minutes we were free to leave, after they again made sure we were ok and didn't want to go to the hospital. All the fire trucks and ambulances blocked 14th Street at Girard, so traffic and buses were routed down 13th instead.

It was a pretty crazy trip to work, and a little scary, but the professionalism of the bus driver and first responders really helped the situation a lot.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cell phone store now open in the Tivoli building

Doh. We learned a few months ago that the space in the Tivoli building that used to hold the Uptowner, a pretty tasty deli, would become a Verizon Wireless store. And now it's open.

The store is something called the Verizon Wireless Zone, which is a reseller, and looks pretty sparse inside. Too bad, the deli was a much better use of the space.

In my opinion, cell phone stores and banks are the worst uses of street-fronting retail space because they don't cause much foot traffic and are dead most of the time, as opposed to restaurants, bars, or more interesting non-chain retail.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Heat Da Spot Cafe, new coffee shop with sunday Ethiopian buffet opening this Sunday at 3213 Georgia

I am getting hungry: Heat Da Spot Cafe, a new Ethiopian restaurant and coffee shop is coming to 3213 Georgia Avenue NW. That's right on the corner of Keefer Place where Tibet Shop used to be.

They'll be mostly a traditional coffee shop but will also serve an Ethiopian buffet for vegetarians and non-vegetarians on Sundays, plus a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony. The coffee ceremony is something Harar Coffee Roasters does too.

Their website mentions other food like breakfast and sandwiches, but the menu doesn't include it, so I'm guessing that will happen sometime in the future. They have a big patio too.

They're having an opening part on Sunday from 2-6pm with free food and coffee.

It seems like this part of Georgia is heating up, with the new Colony Club coffee shop and bar, plus other spots. That also means the coffee shop gap I talked on Georgia about a few years ago is totally filled.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

New Australian coffee shop Habit, open in the old Last Exit space on Mt. Pleasant Street

If you like coffee, you have another option in the neighborhood: Habit, a new coffee shop with an Australian bent.

You may recall Last Exit the underground "speakeasy" cocktail bar that was a sister bar on Tonic, located at 3155 Mt. Pleasant. It was a pretty neat little spot, but closed along with Tonic.

Since then, Tonic has been replaced by Purple Patch, a Filipino restaurant, and the Last Exit space has been empty. But the Purple Patch folks have been working, and now it's open as Habit.

The place will serve coffee from M.E. Swing, a long time local coffee roaster, as well as Australian meat pies, which don't necessarily have meat in them -- as the Post reports, it's an Aussie specialty and varieties include beef and cheese, egg and cheese, and leek and potato. (The co-owner of Purple Patch and Habit is Australian.) They'll have tea too and the flat white, a newly trendy Australian coffee drink kind of like a latte.

M.E. Swing has a shop downtown at 17th and G, and it's pretty delicious, so I expect Habit to be the same. Looking forward to trying them out! Here's their coffee menu from the Purple Patch FB.

Just in time: city pools are open weekdays

It's crazy hot outside, but the city's pools have come to the rescue. Starting this past Monday, the outdoor pools are now open during the week. Banneker Pool at Georgia and Euclid is open every day but Thursday, 8am-10am for lap swimming and then 1pm-8pm. On the weekend it's open 12-6. 

They've also renovated the main building and added a snack bar with froyo, non-alcoholic drinks, hot dogs and nachos. 

I'm dreaming about the pool right now after being outside.

The city's pools are free with a DC license, DC college ID or DC utility bill.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Progess on Chick-fil-A at DCUSA; they are for real, 100% coming and looking at late fall

Just in case you weren't sure that Chick-fil-A was really coming to DCUSA, I spotted some work in the space the other day and floor plans with the Chick-fil-A logo. So it's happening. The controversial chicken restaurant is coming to the old Lime Fresh Mex space on 14th Street.

The Post reported that they're aiming for a late fall opening, and it seems like they are on track.

I'm torn, because I support gay rights but also really like those chicken sandwiches. My plan is to donate to the Human Rights Campaign or another local organization when I go. Got any recommendations for local orgs? Casa Ruby perhaps?

And of course, they'll be closed Sundays.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Japanese whisky residency, Bar Otsukare, coming to Crane & Turtle June 29

This sounds pretty great -- Bar Otsukare, a Japanese whisky pop-up, will be coming to Crane & Turtle on Upshur Street every Monday starting June 29 this Monday, June 29. The idea, from local mixologists Eddie Kim and Jesse Selvagn, is to "demystify Japanese drinking culture in an accessible and unintimidating atmosphere."

If you haven't tried it, Japanese whisky is pretty delicious and diverse, and it's actually getting rarer in the USA due to increased popularity in Japan. There's also often delicious snacks that go along with it. I'm excited.

The events will start with a small, ticketed educational tasting and food pairing event with Crane & Turtle's chef Makoto, then the bar is open to the public (free, no tickets) with whisky, sake and shochu, other Japanese spirits. Sounds like a good way to learn more or just get a tasty drink.

The word Otsukare comes from a phrase used among coworkers at the bar after a hard day of work in Japan. The event is the work of DC bartenders Eddie Kim and Jesse Selvagn, well-known cocktail makers around town who are Japanese whisky and sake experts. Among other places, both have worked at Daikaya in Chinatown, which is a fantastic spot combining Japanese izakaya food along with cocktails and whisky.

The full press release is below. Crane & Turtle is the Japanese restaurant from the folks behind Room 11, Petworth Citizen, Upshur Street Books, Slim's Diner and more. It's at 828 Upshur Street NW.


Bar Otsukare is excited to make its debut with Monday night residencies at Crane & Turtle in Petworth (828 Upshur St. NW, Washington, DC 20001) on Monday, June 29th.

Over the course of the summer, Bar Otsukare aims to explore the unique and varied drinking traditions of Japan -- with sessions featuring a rotating selection of rare Japanese whiskies from Suntory, Nikka, Chichibu, Mars and others, alongside a spectrum of shochus and sakes.

Each two-part event will begin with a ticketed educational tasting, where Crane and Turtle’s acclaimed chef Makoto Hamamura will collaborate on a selection of accompanying bar snacks. Tickets are $75 per person and are limited to 15 seats per tasting, available through Eventbrite. Here is the link:

The first tasting will focus on the history and production of Japanese whisky. We will lead a guided tour of six whiskies spanning the core portfolios of Suntory and Nikka, plus one popular style whisky highball. 

This will be followed by a full bar open to the public. The first bar night will showcase the whiskies of Nikka and its founder Masataka Taketsuru, commonly referred to as the father of Japanese whisky. We will also be pouring premium sakes representing five main style categories and shochus produced from a variety of traditional grains.

About Bar Otsukare
“Otsukare!” is a word often heard in Japan after a hard day’s work. Short for “otsukare sama deshita,” the respectful phrase said to co-workers thanking them for their efforts, it is also the refrain that takes the place of “Kampai” when sharing a well-earned drink. A project from D.C. bartenders Eddie Kim (Room 11, Columbia Room, Daikaya) and Jesse Selvagn, Certified Sake Advisor, (Mandu, Proof, Daikaya), Bar Otsukare aims to demystify Japanese drinking culture in an accessible and unintimidating atmosphere.

Whisky 101 Tasting List
Suntory Yamazaki 12 Year Single Malt
Suntory Hakushu 12 Year Single Malt
Suntory Hibiki Blended
Nikka Yoichi 15 Year Single Malt
Nikka Miyagikyo 12 Year Single Malt
Nikka Taketsuru 17 Year Pure Malt
Suntory Hakushu Highball

Nikka Night Bar Bottle List
  1. Yoichi 12 Year Single Malt
  2. Yoichi 12 Year – Sherry and Sweet – Component Yoichi malt for blending
  3. Yoichi 12 Year – Peaty and Salty– Component Yoichi malt for blending
  4. Yoichi 15 Year Single Malt
  5. Yoichi 20 Year Single Malt
  6. Miyagikyo 12 Year Single Malt
  7. Miyagikyo 15 Year Single Malt
  8. Tsuru 17 Year – Special blend created to showcase the essence of Nikka's smooth, mellow malt
  9. Taketsuru 21 Year Single Malt
  10. Taketsuru 21 Year Madeira Cask Finish – 1/500 Bottles released for Nikka's 80th anniversary
  11. Nikka Coffey Grain – Single Grain Whisky distilled in the Miyagikyo's 1960's era Coffey Patent stills
  12. Nikka Coffey Malt – Single Malt Whisky distilled in the Miyagikyo's 1960's era Coffey Patent stills
  13. Nikka 1990's Blend – Blend of vintage malts distilled during 1990's

  1. Chiyomusubi Oni no Shitaburui Honjozo – “Quivering Tongued Demon” named after the legend of Princess Tamahime and the crocodile
  2. Oze no Yukidoke Omachi Junmai Ginjo –  Made from Omachi, known as the original sake rice, in brewery with just 4 kurobito (brewers), 2 of whom are toji (master sake brewers)
  3. Suigei Tokubetsu Junmai – “Drunken Whale” Brewed in Kochi, home to Chef Makoto
  4. Tengumai Yamahai Junmai Daiginjo Kokoshu – “Dancing Goblin” Brewed using the traditional, labor intensive Yamahai Method  and aged 3 Years
  5. Ohyama Tokubetsu Junmai Nigori – Refined, dry Nigorizake from a brewery that made sake for the Shogun in the 19th century

  1. Satsuma Kurodashi Genshu - Limited production, undiluted shochu from Kogane Sengan sweet potatos. Bottled at 37% abv rather than the typical 25%
  2. Tori Kai - A masterpiece of smooth, Ginjo style rice shochu produced by the same family since 1575
  3. Ginza no Suzume Kohaku - Aged 3 years in ex-bourbon barrels from one of the best known barley shochu producers
  4. Zuisen Awamori - Traditional clay pot ageing makes this a particularly smooth Awamori shochu
  5. Beniotome Goma - Distillation of roasted sesame and barley produces a round, complex, peanut buttery flavor

Full disclosure: Eddie Kim is a friend, but I would post this anyway because it sounds awesome.

Celebrate Juneteenth today on Georgia Avenue

Today is Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates the abolition of slavery. It started in Texas but has since grown to a popular celebration around the country, especially in the south. And there are a lot of events today to celebrate on Georgia Avenue. Check them out! 

Here's more from the organizers of today's events.

Come + Celebrate the 150th Anniversary of 
JUNETEENTH (African American Freedom Day)
on Georgia Avenue with 2 great events!
Emancipation Day celebration - 1900-06-19.jpg

Juneteenth (Freedom Day) is one of the celebrations commemorating the ending of slavery in the USA. On June 19, 1865 Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, TX with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. This was 2.5 years after Pres.  Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans because there were only a few Union troops to enforce it.  With the surrender of General Lee, in April of 1865, + arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

Friday, June 19, 2015
3:00 PM to 5:00 PM: Georgia Avenue’s OWN, White House awarded, M.O.M.I.E’s TLC children’s program will feature an interactive children’s Black history booth on Robert Smalls (who escaped from bondage during the Civil War). Location: the M.O.M.I.E’s  TLC patio at 2616 Georgia Avenue, NW, WDC 20001 (right across from Howard Univ’s school of Biz, at Euclid + Ga Ave., NW, for more info see: Additionally, author and social entrepreneur Ayize Sabater will read from + sign his book: Tellin’ Children Our Story which is a fun resource book on `how to’ use history to inspire children. Books can be purchased on site (for more contact: 240.286.3765 or  AND

5:30 PM to 8:00 PM : Historian, author and lecturer C.R. Gibbs ( will present the Secret History of Juneteenth   and sign his books.  His books can be purchased on site.  Join us for a reception featuring - Texas style barbeque (FREE while supplies last or you can purchase from Torries menu)  (Torries@Wilson’s), Entertainment, Stimulating conversations...  Location:  Torries Restaurant., 700 V Street, NW, WDC 20001 (V Street on GA Ave. NW).    Please RSVP by E-Mailing:  or calling: 202. 549.0176.

For more info. contact: or call: 202. 549.0176. Partnerships + Sponsors are encouraged.

Sponsors: G. Avery + Associates (ginia@gaveryaa.com202.549.0176), (; Lockhart Insurance Services ( ), 202.829.6222., Fax: 202.291.9452, ( Emergence Community Arts Collective (; Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force (202.462.2285).