Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Urban Land Institute wants to hear what Millenials think about DC

While the term "Millenial" isn't getting the best press lately, the idea of asking young people what they think about Washington, DC is a good one. The Urban Land Institute, a research group that studies cities and urban planning, is holding an online survey about how millenials, who they define as people betweent he ages of 20 and 37, think about the Washington, DC area -- and as there are a lot of those folks in Columbia Heights, it's worth checking out.

The idea is to see what young people prefer, what they don't like, and so on. (I wonder if millenials like being called millenials, what with all the baggage that term comes with?)

Sounds like a good opportunity to have your voice heard if you are between those ages (though to me that range a little broad for millenials.)
Millenial’s Future Choices – ULI Washington is Trying to Understand Preferences

Please click Here to take an important survey about Millenials in the city in the future.

ULI Washington’s District Council is conducting an opinion survey about living in the Washington, DC area and its older suburbs, trying to understand the factors that will shape whether young adults stay in an urban neighborhood 3+ years from now or move elsewhere. ULI is looking for Millennials ages 20-37 who live in the District of Columbia or in the suburbs inside the Beltway. Respondents can be single or married, with or without children, homeowners or renters, as long as they meet the age and location criteria for participation.

The survey is totally confidential. Responses will be collected and tabulated by Qualtrics, a respected survey research firm. You will not be identified in any way. This is a "survey of the willing," and the more opinions we gather from owners and renters in your age group, the better. Please share your views; this will take only 15 minutes of your time. Please pass the survey on to your friends or colleagues!

Awesome Dominican band outside DCUSA this weekend

This Sunday I was running some errands at DCUSA and spotted a great little band sitting outside the main entrance. Consisting of an accordion player, drummer and guy with a metal thing kind of like a washboard, they had some Dominican flags and played for a long time. I watched for probably 10-15 minutes, went to DSW, and they were still playing when I came back out maybe an hour later.

They were great, with really impressive play from all three musicians, who were all blazing fast. At times they had a pretty sizable crowd -- shoppers, passersby, construction workers and such, plus some folks danced. I did wish more folks watching would have tossed them a dollar or two though, they were working pretty hard.

It was a cool thing to see -- I love seeing street musicians, especially awesome ones like these guys. I hope they come back. Anybody else see them?

I also took an admittedly not very good video -- the accordion doesn't come through very well, but he was pretty amazing.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Checking out Colony Club, new coffee shop and bar on Georgia Ave: cool spot

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the opening of Colony Club, the new coffee shop and bar at 3118 Georgia Ave NW, near Irving, and last weekend I got a chance to check it out -- it's a really neat spot.

Co-owner Max Zuckerman showed me around a told me a lot about the spot, whic has a maximum capacity of 49. For one, it's really nicely done: the interior is clean and modern with a lot of nice woodworking from a company out of Jessup, Maryland: cabinets, tables, the bar and more are all really beautiful. There's an area with some seats and tables in the front, then the bar, then a more loungey area with a coffee table and a few more tables. One of the neat features at the couch area is a collection of coffee table books on soccer, food and other topics.

Upstairs, there's a tournament-style ping pong table and some places to sit and set your drinks. That looks like somewhere I will spend a lot of time (but sadly I forgot to take a picture.) There's also a lot of cool retro posters: art exhibits, World Cups, and such.

There's also a patio area in the back which they are still working on, but which will seat 20 people.

Zuckerman's background is in real estate, he worked for his family's company, but the Zuckermans have a lot of history in this part of town: they used to own a flower shop in Petworth called Dave Zuckerman's Colony Flowers, which was named for the Colony Theater at Georgia and Farragut Street NW.  That building still exists, though not as a theater (much like the York Theater across from the Looking Glass Lounge, which is now the Fishermen of Men Church.) It's an interesting reminder of how many movie theaters used to be in DC -- the Tivoli at Park and 14th being one of them.

Max explained that a lot of places around there were named after the theater, like the still-open Colony Liquors and others.

As for the split between coffee shop and bar, Max said every day they'll be the coffee shop until 5 pm, and then after will start serving alcohol -- except Sundays, when they close at 5. He explained that they'll see how this goes, since they are new. When I was there on Sunday around 4, there were a lot of folks enjoying coffee, reading and working on their laptops and such, and my friends who joined us were surprised they didn't have beer then. 

The coffee comes from Ceremony Coffee Roasters, a local roaster, and was quite tasty. In addition to coffee drinks in the coffee shop portion, they have pastries, quiche and yogurt, and interesting soft drinks like seltzer on tap.

Then as for booze, they have beer, wine and hard liquor, the idea being to have small batches for each of those -- some interesting wines and spirits that are tasty but reasonably-priced. I didn't recognize most of the spirits they had, for example. Zuckerman said they planned to have one of each type (bourbon, gin, etc.) and would serve mostly neat, on the rocks or with the aforementioned seltzer.

There's a handful of good beers on draft for $7, like Allagash White, Centennial IPA, Brewer's Art from Maryland and Founders Porter, plus cans (the Porkslap is $3, a great deal) and also larger format bottles of nice German and Belgian beers. In addition, there's the "cellar" beers, which are bigger, fancier bottles.

They have a happy hour too until 7 pm, with drafts dropping to $5. 

There's no kitchen, but along with the coffee shop bites, they have bar snacks like charcuterie meats and cheeses, almonds, olives, pickels and such, and tinned seafood. I asked Max about this as it was new to me: he explained that it's common in places like Spain and France to have them at bars, and unlike American canned seafood, the idea is to have high quality fish in interesting, nicely designed tins. I forget the exact prices but they were around $10-$15.

Another interesting feature is that they will offer annual memberships, which will include deals on beer and wine, free unlimited coffee, and other freebies, for $250. He said the idea was kind of like the memberships at Bedrock Billiards, where regulars who come in a lot can join and get deals. I think it makes sense if you plan to go a lot.

I took a bunch of photos, look below for more. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Pretty funny: Mayor Bowser "CONDOS" stickers

Last night at the Columbia Heights Metro, I spotted a funny sticker on the wood construction fence: it's Mayor Muriel Bowser's face with the word CONDOS.

Doing a little research, I found that the stickers are the work of local punk band Jack on Fire, who have songs about gentrification and development, like "Burn down the Brixton" about the huge bar on U Street.

The City Paper wrote a bit about the stickers: bandmembers say it is in reponse to Bowser killing plans for a new contemporary art museum in the Franklin School building downtown, which is beautiful and historic but has been empty for years.

Bowser administration staff said the museum had missed fundraising deadlines, while the organizers of the museum (which would also include a Jose Andres restaurant) and former DC government officials said that's not correct: there were no deadlines. They said the deadlines would only be announced when the City Council approved the project, which hasn't happened for unknown reasons. The developers of the museum also said they never heard from the mayoral staff about fundraising. The city then immediately issued a new request for proposals after canceling the contract for the museum.

To me, that sounds like Bowser never wanted the museum to happen, which was approved under Mayor Gray. Many critics were not happy with her decision. The proposals received so far include offices, a technology center, a Georgetown University arts classroo, and a hotel.

Always neat to see political art around. The sticker reminds me of other stickers like "Andre the Giant has a posse" and is kind of a funny commentary on the mayor of our fair city, and the city's love of condos. Of course, that's not unique to Bowser, the previous mayors also governed over a lot of new condo buildings in the city.

Radio Shack closing June 30, big 60% off sale now

Today I stopped by the Radio Shack in DCUSA to see what they had, and learned they were closing June 30th -- before we heard they were closing as part of a company-wide bankruptcy, just not when. The store had partially been cleaned out already of most of the bigger items, so I wonder what's going to be left come the end of June.

That said, there's a 60% off sale for what's left, which depending on what you are looking for, is an awesome deal. For example, I picked up 24 batteries for about $10 when they normally would have been more than $20, and they have similar deals for all their usual items: cell phone cases, headphones, cords and wires for stereos, computers, and phones, and a lot more. If you're looking for electronics, accessories or whatnot, get there soon, there may not be much left.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Puff Daddy gets NSFW on 14th Street ad

One of the nice things about the otherwise not-nice empty buildings along 14th Street is that there's a lot of plywood for posters. Sometimes the posters are interesting, sometimes funny, but this one is just strange. It's an advertisement for P. Diddy's new perfume, 3AM. I assumed it was an album, but no -- a unisex fragrance.

The ads, are apparently also causing a stir elsewhere with videos that include him having sex. Yes, that's a great way to sell perfume, by showing Puffy doing it.

Maybe he liked Kanye West's video for Bound 2, where he gets it on with Kim Kardashian on a motorocycle, that he had to get in on the act himself. (Instead of linking to that, here's Seth Rogen and James Franco's parody.)

The 14th Street ads are also fairly risque, with a woman taking off Puffy's shirt and another of him covering a woman's breast with his arm.

I mean, he is a bad boy for life.

The only question I have, however, is where is Ma$e?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Electric car charging station at 14th and U, others at 13th and Kenyon, Mt. Pleasant

Today I noticed something neat: an electric Smart car getting charged at a station right outside the Reeves Center at 14th and U. There are a few dedicated parking spots there for electric vehicles, which is a pretty neat thing.

According to Plugshare, a site that has a map for electric vehicle chargers, there are also two around 13th and Kenyon and one in Mt. Pleasant maintained by local residents, which is also a cool thing.

Nice to see some support for alternative vehicles in the neighborhood.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Update on Little Coco's, the Italian spot from El Chucho folks: looking at fall opening

A few months ago, we heard about the plans for Little Coco's, an Italian restaurant from the folks behind El Chucho on 11th Street, plus Jackie's, Sidecar Sidebar and the Quarry House in Silver Spring. It's planned for the old Rib Pit Lounge spot at 14th and Randolph, and I am pretty excited, as El Chucho is awesome.

They were originally hoping for a spring opening, but timelines for restaurants in DC are often nebulous due to permits, plans and such, but things are moving. I just talked to Jackie Greenbaum, the co-owner, and here's what she had to say:
Well our plans are before the permit board for about a month now. Our architect tells us plan approval can take anywhere from one to 5 months, so we're just waiting. Construction will take a couple of months, so we're looking at an opening date in the fall--early or late fall, depending. That's pretty much it!
They described the place previously as an Italian version of El Chucho, with antipasti, pizza, homemade pasta and other Italian entrees, plus frozen drinks like negronis, shaved ice in warmer months, and affordable drinks like wine and Italian beer. Some potential pizza flavors included oolive-oil poached tuna and artichokes, snails and garlic, and butternut squash with pear and taleggio, a type of Italian cheese.

There will be about 70 seats split between inside and outside.

I'm excited!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Funny sidewalk carving: Cuddlebear and Santa loves Tina

I'm a sucker for funny things people carve into the sidewalk: the waffle-eating dinosaur, punk rock lyrics, and so on.  And the other day I spotted a couple of funny ones: "Santa loves Tina" with a heart near 13th and Spring, and "Cuddlebear" which I think was around 14th and Irving (I should have written it down.)

I'm glad for Tina, and hopefully she gets lots of presents. I get the feeling Cuddlebear is related to the dinosaur one too, it's the same style of drawing and general wackiness.

Good stuff, Columbia Heights neighbors. Keep it up!