Thursday, October 31, 2013

Free cab rides home tonight with SoberRide

If you go out and get into the Halloween spirit at a bar or restaurant tonight, it's important to have a safe way to get home (especially not one involving driving or biking home drunk.)

Luckily the Washington Regional Alcohol Program is again launching their SoberRide program offering free cab rides home. Here's the details, or click the flyer for more.

AT&T reminds you to leave “scary” off the road this Halloween.

Together with the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) SoberRide initiative, AT&T is proud to provide free taxi rides (up to $30) to anyone over 21 in the greater Washington, DC area this Thursday.

AT&T customers can call #WRAP to get a safe, free ride home, while others can dial 800-200-8294 (TAXI) anytime from 10PM until 4:00AM Friday morning.

For more information, please visit

WRAP's SoberRide provides greater Washington, DC residents a safe way home on high-risk holidays, including the December/January holiday season, St. Patrick’s Day, Independence Day and Halloween. In the last year, the program has removed 2,578 would-be drunk drivers from DC’s roadways.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Big 11th Street Halloween event for kids, families and dogs tomorrow: costume contest, parade, trick-or-treating, more

Halloween is upon us, and the North Columbia Heights Civic Association is putting on what sounds like a really fun 11th Street extravaganza. There will be games, craft tables, costume contests for kids and dogs (separate ones,) music, a parade, and trick-or-treating on the street and more. I bet there will be a lot of cute kids and funny dogs. 

A lot of local businesses are involved too, hosting part of it or helping out. Nice to see this.

Click the flyer for a bigger version.

I hate the 14th Street bus.

I consider myself a pretty easygoing guy. A fair amount of things annoy me (people live tweeting TV shows, duck face, Phillies fans) but I don't really hate that many. I hate the 14th Street bus right now.

This morning I checked Nextbus on my phone and the 14th Street buses (the 52, 53 and 54) were 4, 6 and 8 minutes away. Great. I got to the bus stop at 14th and Spring at 9:07, which still left me 3, 5 and 7 minutes (assuming time is linear, which is a longshot when using Nextbus sometimes.)

Then 13 minutes later, no buses. About 15 minutes later, a 53 shows up, which is not the best because it turns east at L Street and I work near F Street. But I was sick of waiting and angry at Nextbus and Metro for being way off on their estimates/predictions/random numbers posted to the internet so I started to get on and saw that the bus was completely packed. The driver says to the throng of people on and trying to board (who generally don't move back, but that's another annoying issue) that he can't move if he can't see, and another bus is right behind him. Another guy and I get off to wait for that next bus. One minute goes by, then 2, then 5. Still no bus.

At this point I'm tweeting up a storm to @metrobusinfo with no response. Why is Nextbus so wrong? Where is the bus? The only bus that showed up was packed, where's the next one that should have arrived 15 minutes ago? Is there only one bus that serves this entire route, so it has to make a loop? Does it actually exist? Are there buses at all? Do any of us exist? Why are we here? Is this some kind of nightmare? It was like I was in a David Lynch movie, but thankfully a bit less creepy.

Then 26 minutes after the I got to the stop, 22 minutes after the first bus should have arrived, a second (and with it, a third, naturally) bus arrives. It's not packed and I get on. It's going its usual turtle-ish rate to downtown. (According to my calculations from before, the 14th Street bus usually takes about 30 minutes to go the 2 miles to downtown. That's 4 miles per hour. That's how fast a person walks.)

But then it gets slower and slower. Traffic is backed up. People start to get off in droves. I abandon the bus at K Street, about an hour after I got on. It's just sitting there. As I walk down the street I see some of them are closed off, apparently due to the Iraqi prime minister at the Willard Hotel and the mayor at the new Marshall's at 14th and F. I have no idea why the mayor needs as much police protection as I saw at a Marshall's grand opening. Maybe he's afraid he's not going to find the belt he wants and flip out or something.

So anyway, today was a commute from hell. But even when things are going well, in a relative sense, they still suck. Traffic is bad in the mornings starting at DCUSA, sometimes backing up all the way past Spring Road. Why? I don't know. That's crazy. And the bus stops way too often, usually every block -- sometimes the stops are a few dozen feet from each other.

I know there are bigger problems in the world. But why the bus is so terrible so often boggles my mind. A decent bus system needs to be consistent to work properly and serve the people who ride. The riders need to know they can reliably get to X destination if they have Y minutes . That isn't the case with the 14th Street bus, and it is maddening to me. It's almost random whether you're going to get where you need to go when you need to be there. It drives me crazy. I hate it. Some of that randomness happens from being in a city, but I feel like there has to be something Metro and the city can do. Fewer stops. More buses. Fix the blockage at 14th and Irving. I don't know, something, anything.

I'm going to buy a bike helmet and join the growing crowd heading down the 14th Street hill. Hopefully some idiot won't walk into the bike lane while looking the wrong direction.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

District Flea on Florida Avenue: a cool vintage marketplace

Flea market stuff The other day I checked out District Flea, a big, outdoor market at  945 Florida Avenue NW, across from Blind Dog Cafe. It's a fun and bustling, but the flea market name is a bit of a misnomer: it's more like an upscale vintage market.

That said, there's a plethora of vendors and odds are you'll find something you like. Some people sell handmade arts and crafts (I picked up a little painted sign that reads "Columbia Heights," see right) but most booths are of the vintage variety: men's and women's clothes, furniture, accessories, collectibles, knick knacks and antiques. My favorite booth had a bunch of beer paraphernalia and old glasses, and I picked up a couple of cool old metal beer signs, one from a defunct beer called Valley Forge.

There are also some snack places that sell high-end coffee, pastries, charcuterie, pickles and such. It's a little bit Portlandia, but still fun.

The market was originally planned to end earlier, but due to big crowds it was extended until Nov. 30. They're open every Saturday until then from 10am-5pm. Check them out, and see if you can find any other cool Columbia Heights-related stuff.

District Flea

The spookiest places in Columbia Heights, part 1: abandoned Hebrew Home on Spring Road

It's almost Halloween, which usually means scary stuff -- haunted houses, ghosts, and the like. However, with the lack of decorations around this year, I was thinking of other avenues for scary stuff: what are the spookiest, eeriest places in the neighborhood? Old, abandoned buildings, creepy outdoor spaces and the like. So this is the first in a series of posts leading up to Halloween of what I think are those spots: the old abandoned Hebrew Home at 1125 Spring Road NW.

The Hebrew Home building takes up almost the whole block on a quiet stretch of Spring Road. It was opened in 1925 as a home for elderly Jewish people. There was an addition added in 1953, but soon that was overcrowded and the home moved to Maryland, where it still operates.

The Spring Road building was sold to the city in 1968. It seems to have been used for homeless housing various classes after that, and apparently was a mental health center as well. At some point around 2008, the entire building was abandoned. (The Park View DC blog has a bit more.)

There aren't any signs left, just a blank one in front, but there are still some faded stars of David on the facade and some ghostly, scratched out Hebrew lettering on the building as well.

And the inside is weird: a City Paper photographer went inside and took photos of what he saw -- some remnants of classes, religious material, newspapers from 1999, snack machines and furniture strewn about, confusing graffiti. It looks like the city, or whoever was working in the building, just picked up and left one day; things are strewn about like they had just finished some classes and activities. The inside actually looks to be in decent condition, but I think it would be pretty creepy with the lights off.

Something else odd is that that the lights are still kept on sometimes, and I've thought I've occasionally heard air conditioning too when passing by -- maybe that's just the city making sure it doesn't deteriorate. But that means that if you walk by at night, there's this huge, deathly quiet old building just sitting there with dull light shining out of a few windows.

Nothing has been done since it was abandoned, and about a year ago I emailed Councilmember Muriel Bowser about it, as it's in her ward. She said the city was considering uses for it, including workforce housing, and one of her staffers elaborated:
The District owns the building and although it has always had great potential given its character and location, the capital markets were such that private development wasn’t a great option. It seems like a good time now for the District to focus its energies on developing an RFP that will serve the community and use the building to its highest use. As far as I know there are no specific plans for the building—either how it will be used or what form of property interest will be conveyed—but we are encouraged that occupancy is on the horizon.
Hmm. Old abandoned building, mental health center, elderly residents, items strewn about like everyone just all decided to leave one day. That's a pretty good recipe for Halloween spookiness.

Photos from the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington and Google Maps.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Watch the International Space Station tonight (and Tuesday and Wednesday)

Our newest resident
Look up! DCist reports that the International Space Station will be visible above DC tonight, plus tomorrow and the day after -- tonight is the best though. It'll be up there at 7:03 pm for about 6 minutes.

NASA has a handy tool called Spot the Station for finding where to look for space gizmos using parks as your viewing location. From Meridian Hill Park, if I'm reading it correctly, it means it'll be almost straight up towards the northwest heading to the southeast.

No word on if you'll see Sandra Bullock or George Clooney flying with it.

Cat found at Hiatt and Irving: is it yours?

I saw this on the Columbia Heights Yahoo listserve today, have you lost this cat?
This beautiful (and friendly but scared) cat was found huddled in a doorway on the corner of Hiatt Place and Irving Street, NW.  
The Petco just a few doors down is caring for her but can't keep her. Please contact them if you have any info on her. 

Reminder: be careful of the bike lanes -- and don't walk into them without looking

Lane This may seem obvious, but lately I've seen a few people walking into bike lanes without paying attention to bikers. The other day I was on the 14th Street bus and heard a biker crash. When I looked over, the lady on the bike was yelling at a man who was facing the wrong direction (that is, down the street and away from where bikes would come) and didn't even seem to notice her until she yelled at him. The lady didn't seem to be hurt badly, but I'm sure it didn't feel good either..

Bike lanes are there for a reason, they're a way to give bikers their own path and make it safer for them and for drivers. Pedestrians, please take note of them. Bikes are fast and quiet, so you had better keep your eyes open. And don't walk into them without looking.

In fact, I've seen a few pedestrians doing dumb stuff recently -- this guy in the bike lane, people crossing in front of cars, darting between parked cars into the street, etc. It almost makes me wish that the police would do random jaywalking busts.

(And I know that sometimes bikers are irresponsible too, but seeing that lady fall over was scary. I hope getting some more word out about it will help.)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Howard U. Homecoming is this Saturday: parade, street closings, events and more

Howard University's Homecoming celebration, one of the biggest events of the year on the Hilltop, is this Saturday. That means parades, music, and lots going on, and it also means street closures around the area.

The Washington Post has a good guide to all the events. On Saturday, the parade starts at 10am and a good spot is near Banneker High School. The Pleasant Plains Workshop also invites people to come and watch from their spot, which is at 2608 Georgia Ave NW. There's usually a lot of floats, dancers, bands and more. (Although Complex magazine has a kind of meandering article about some changes this year to the events.)

The actual homecoming football game itself starts a 11am with Howard versus Morgan State. Later on there are block parties, music, and Brandy and Trey Songz performing on campus.

As for the street closures, here's the info on that!

Please note the following streets will be closed for HU Homecoming this weekend:
Yard fest and Homecoming Parade on Friday & Saturday, October 25-26, 2013
600 Blk Howard Place                    Friday & Saturday, October 26th  12am-6pm
600 Blk Girard Street                       Friday & Saturday, October 25th thru 26th  12am-6pm
2100-2700 Blk Georgia Ave           Saturday, October 26th  12am-1pm
600 Blk Florida Ave                         Saturday, October 26th  8am-12pm
1800 Blk 5th St NW                          Saturday, October 26th  8am-12pm
400 Blk T Street NW                        Saturday, October 26th  8am-12pm
600 Blk Fairmont Street NW          Saturday, October 26th  12am- 6pm
1800-2600 Blk 4th Street NW         Saturday, October 26th 12am-1pm
2100-2200 Blk 6th Street NW         Saturday, October 26th     12am-1pm
2300-2700 Blk 6th Street NW         Saturday, October 26th    12am-6pm
400-500 Blk College Street NW    Saturday, October 26th    12am-1pm  

Last Petworth farmers market of the season is today: kids' Halloween events, costume contest, music, more!

It's getting chilly, and the Petworth Farmers' Market is ending their season today. In celebration of a successful year, and for the holiday, they're having a lot of kids' events too. Take a look and go pick up some farm-grown good stuff.

The market is today (Friday) from 4-8pm at the triangle where Georgia Avenue, 9th Street and Upshur Street NW meet.

Here's more info on the kids' events.

PETWORTH COMMUNITY MARKET HOSTS: The Final Market and Halloween CelebrationDate and Time: Friday October 25 from 4:00 – 7:00 PM
Events and details: Parents and friends bring your children and/ or pets dressed in costume from 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. for….
  • A Scavenger Hunt
  • Create your own Trick-or-Treat Bag
  • Coloring
  • Halloween Bucket Ball Toss
  • Mummy Bowling
  • Trick-or-Treating
  • Eminence Band will close out the season from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pumpkin decorating this Saturday with Grace Meridian Hill Church

This sounds like a nice, wholesome event for the kids: punkin time! It's at the 1480 Girard Street Park. Click the fyler for a larger version.

Also my rant the other day about the lack of Halloween decorations in the neighborhood was picked up in the Express, so let's get on it! Target has a good selection of decorations, though the CVS at Georgia and New Hampshire didn't, so stay away from that one.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Do you consider Columbia Heights safe?

Horse cop and kids I often get emails from people who are thinking of moving to the neighborhood or who just moved asking about safety. "Is the neighborhood safe? Are there certain places or times I should avoid?" and the like.

I generally tell them that crime could happen any part of the city, even the nicest ones, and that they should be aware of their surroundings and don't do things like walking around alone at 3 am, or drunk and alone, or on your phone.

But aside from that, I'm kind of stumped. I generally think Columbia Heights is very safe. I've only been hassled once in the neighborhood: in maybe 2007 a very scared kid with what looked like a fake gun held up my friends and I. Of course we didn't want to find out for sure about the gun, and he got about $20 total from us. We called the police and they came but didn't find anybody (and a couple of cabs drove past us while it was happening and didn't seem to call the police or anything, which was frustrating.) Maybe I've been lucky though, and I hope everyone reading hasn't had a similar experience.

Of course, your results may vary, but it seems mostly random. I've had a hard time finding places where lots of bad things happen to bystanders or passersby. There have been shootings, but I think mostly those are targeted or the result of some dispute, not just a random robber shooting somebody they are trying to rob. (This has happened a little bit though, like the sad shooting during a robbery at Sherman Circle in 2010.)

It's also been a while since there has been a big shooting, like the one around the Faircliff building at 14th and Fairmont in 2008 where a number of people were shot, as well as some cars. The Faircliff building management has since done a lot to address crime there and we haven't heard much from it in a while, to their credit.

I also think the neighborhood certainly seems safer than a few years ago, mainly due to increased foot traffic everywhere. Back before DCUSA was built, the area around 14th and Irving was completely deserted at almost all times of the day. Now there are people there constantly and all over the neighborhood -- though I also usually tell people that they should stick to busier streets and that generally as you go north and east, streets get less busy. I'm not sure if that actually results in more crime, but it can be eerie walking alone on Kenyon and Georgia or something at night.

So those are my thoughts, how about yours? Are we safe? Are certain parts more unsafe for people? Let us know in the comments.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fundraiser at DC Reynolds on Wednesday to benefit the Friends of the Soldiers Home

If you want to help out the Friends of the Soldiers Home, the group that works to put on events for the public in the Armed Forces Retirement Home (aka Old Soldiers' Home) just north of Park View, then get yourself to DC Reynolds on Wednesday. The group organizes things like tours of the campus, opens it for the 4th of July, and a lot more. It's an impressive campus with large grassy fields, a golf course, and some really neat old architecture. It's normally closed to the public but is worth a visit when the Friends puts one on!

The happy hour is from 6-9 pm at DC Reynolds, 3628 Georgia Ave NW. There's a $10 suggested donation.

Breakfast hoagies back at Taylor Gourmet!

Good news for breakfast and/or sandwich fans: Taylor Gourmet, which has a location at 14th and W, is again going to sell breakfast hoagies, starting tomorrow at 11 am. The hoagies were stricken from the menu a few months ago after sluggish sales. My theory was that they stopped selling them too early in the day, they were only available from 8am-11am -- on the weekends I sleep in, on purpose or not, and often am not up and running fully with enough time to get there by 11 am. They've addressed that by selling them all day, though they'll open at 11 am everyday.

They're also getting rid of a few hoagies, including the popular Delaware Avenue eggplant one, and adding a couple more to the rest of the menu -- click it above for a bigger version.

And through Sunday, everybody will get a free side salad. Not bad.

Where are all the Halloween decorations in the neighborhood?

Halloween on 13th

It seems Columbia Heights isn't into the Halloween spirit this year. I've noticed very few houses with any decorations, let alone big, impressive displays. I feel like there has been more in the past, but maybe because of the unseasonably warm weather or something almost nobody has put anything up. I don't think it's too early either, Halloween is only 9 days away.

I hope that doesn't mean there will be that many fewer people giving out candy to kids. I've noticed a real uptick in trick-or-treaters in the past few years, which is really nice to see (and fun!)

So come on folks, let's get into the spirit. It's fun for kids, and fun for adults too. (I will also admit that I haven't done anything either, but plan to go to Target and get some skeletons and stuff, as well as lots of candy.)

Above is one of the few displays I've seen, some spider webs up at 13th and Monroe. Are there any other good ones around? I remember often seeing some on Irving, Park and Harvard, but haven't seen those either.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Lost dog: tan Shih Tzu at 14th and Irving

 A reader spotted this today, can you help?

(Note that this picture isn't the dog, just a picture to give you an idea of what a tan Shih Tzu looks like.)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Check out what the TGI Friday's coming to 14th and Monroe will look like inside

As you may recall, chain restaurant TGI Friday's is opening a 290 seat location at 14th and Monroe, in the Samuel Kelsey building. They don't have a date that I've seen

The Park View DC blog reached out about the interior, and the company sent them a video of what interiors look like. Kind of interesting to see. It's not this exact store but an idea of the inside.

I wrote before about how I think this isn't a great use of the space. I'm sure it'll make money and be popular, but I just wish there was something more interesting. I also hope it's better than the one in Foggy Bottom, that one has terrible and slow service.

But maybe I'm a grump. Are you excited about this?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

11th Street Dog Park cleanup this Saturday from 10am-2pm; get 15% off or a free beer at KBC!

Here's a nice opportunity to help out in the neighborhood: a cleanup of the Columbia Heights Dog Park at 11th and Park Rd. There will also be some new fencing for the park and some new soil and such. And you get a deal at Kangaroo Boxing Club afterwards!
This Saturday, October 19, 2013 the Civic Association will be sponsoring a clean up of the Columbia Heights Dog Park at 11th St and Park Rd, NW. We'll be scooping, sweeping, raking and collecting trash from 10am-2pm. Also, thanks to a grant from ANC 1A we have purchased pet friendly fencing/barrier material so we can repair the fence perimeter and prevent little dogs (and balls) from escaping. Finally, if the manpower is there we'll have the topsoil and bark mulch available to freshen up the tree boxes.

If you'd like to volunteer please get in touch via email to to let us know you'll be coming so we can plan accordingly.

Finally, as a thank you, there will be a 15% discounted lunch (or a free beer) at Kangaroo Boxing Club to anyone who helps with the clean up.

Commissioner Patrick W. Flynn | Treasurer, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1A | Single Member District 1A06 |
1364 Kenyon Street, NW | Washington, DC 20010 | 202-747-4633 | | @CoHiPat

Sad news: Columbia Heights Coffee has closed

Columbia Heights Breakfast Longtime 11th Street coffee shop Columbia Heights Coffee has closed, according to multiple sources. No one has yet gotten a comment from owners Nadew and Tsege Delnesaw, who have operated the shop since opening it in 2003, back when 11th Street was much different than the one we have today: barely any bars or restaurants (even Wonderland wasn't open then) and much less foot traffic.

I worried that places like the Coupe might affect Columbia Heights Coffee's business, but figured they were different enough, as the Coupe was more like a restaurant. Turns out I was wrong. It's sad to see, I think even with big places like the Coupe (which still has middling reviews) small, neighborhood shops could stay in business.

I wonder if this is something we'll have to get used to? Small, well-liked businesses open and thrive until the area gets more popular and bigger places can come in. Then those big places squeeze out the small ones.

(Then again, since there have been no comments from the owners, something else might have been afoot. Some on PoP speculate about rent increases, which is also a big problem for small businesses in popular areas.)

Columbia Heights Coffee may have been one of the oldest businesses in the area -- most of the other places that used to be there have long since closed and reopened as something else -- like the crummy sandwich shop that Room 11 replaced.

It's too bad to see them go, and I'm going to do my best to keep supporting small businesses in the area. You should too.

Here's a short review I posted in 2008 after my first stop there.

Photo by Mr. T in DC

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Last Exit launches fall cocktail menu: we took a drink

by Vicky Johnson

Last Exit, the year-old cocktail bar inside of Tonic on Mount Pleasant Street has a new fall cocktail menu full of seasonally appropriate walnut, butternut, pumpkin, and maple flavors. The menu is divided into signature and classic craft cocktails. Of the classics, the Bufala Negra (Buffalo Trace bourbon, balsamic vinegar, basil, simple syrup, house made ginger beer) is the standout. It's just a solid autumn drink - full, smooth, and warming. 

On the signature side, the Oh My Darling (Old Overholt Rye, butternut simple syrup, clementine juice, St Elizabeth allspice dram, egg white) is the ideal balance of sweet and tart (and a little nutty). The Great Pumpkin (Pumpkin-infused Old Overholt Rye, maple syrup, orange peel, walnut bitters) actually tastes like pumpkin and not pumpkin spice, which was kind of a refreshing change from all of the pie-spiced stuff this time of year. There are also some cider drinks available, as well as a Negroni flight.

Last Exit is offering, guided by bartender and cocktail historian Luke Johnson, an event called "Chasing Dr. Silvius: The Story of Gin Though Five Cocktails" on Sunday October 27th from 3-5pm. It's $50 per person and covers the 500-year history of sweet and dry gin. That's actually not too bad. I mean, cocktails in this city are typically $8-12 each anyway, and don't generally come with a full background from a cocktail historian. To sign up, contact Elizabeth Lettic at

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Has your commute been affected by the shutdown?

Metro While the shutdown is hopefully ending soon (fingers crossed) I've noticed that it seems to have affected the traffic patterns and the commute. Today the 14th Street bus was virtually empty, though maybe that's also because of the holiday yesterday.

Assuming you are still working (sorry if you aren't! That really sucks) how was it been for you? Faster, the same, slower?

I was pretty happy I could sit anywhere on the bus and it seemed quicker too, maybe because there were fewer people waiting to be picked up. I haven't noticed an effect on Capital Bikeshare and I don't usually take the Metro in the mornings, but has anybody noticed a difference there?

(Someone else mentioned more business at coffee shops in the mornings, maybe from people wanting to get out of the house.)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Need your bike fixed? Have them come to you with Cyclomend -- and free flat fixes this week

If you have a bike and need some repairs, it can be a hassle to go to the bike shop -- especially if the bike is unrideable. I've also found that some folks at bike shops have kind of a snooty attitude if you aren't already a bike expert or have an old bike (of which I fit both categories.) That seems kind of counterintuitive -- if I were an expert I'd fix it myself.

But a new local business is looking to help: CycloMend. You go to their website and enter your info, and a mechanic will come to you where and when you choose -- home, office, whatever. This week they have a special deal, they'll fix a flat from 5-8 pm, as long as you tell a friend or three (just click the orange button on their site.)

It was started by a former bike mechanic and rates are similar to a bike store, the idea being that it's more convenient for you and there's no pretension. They go from a la carte small fixes if you know what you need (installing a light, adjusting brakes or shifters, etc.) to more complete packages to make sure everything on your ride is in good shape. They also offer to assemble new bikes, get a bike ready for shipping, and make sure the bike fits your body properly.

Their service area includes all of Columbia Heights, Mt. Pleasant, Adams Morgan and Petworth, plus other areas (roughly between about H Street NE to Foggy Bottom, and Brightwood to part of SW DC -- there's a map on the site.) Mechanics will bring tools and parts with them and may call ahead to talk through the fix and make sure they know all the parts and tools they need to bring.

Cyclomend is also looking for mechanics, so if you're a friendly one and would like occasional extra business, sign up on their site and they'll get in touch for an interview (the link is on the bottom.) The idea is similar to Lyft or those other direct services -- you get a service from a (pre-screened) mechanic who joins the network.

Here's more from their press release:

CycloMend brings bicycle mechanics to you. We maintain a network of local, independent, mobile mechanics that work on your bike where you want, when you want. Not only do we help you find the right mechanic, we also streamline the scheduling process, handle payments, source parts and make sure you pay a fair price...all for about the same prices as a bike shop. Our intuitive, streamlined web and mobile sites take the pain out of bike fixes to get you rolling again. You get added convenience at no extra cost, local mechanics get business.

(Full disclosure: A friend runs this business, but I still think it's an awesome idea.)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Heights closing briefly for revamp: new chef, new food and drink menu, new look

 The Heights, the American restaurant at 3115 14th Street NW, is closing on Oct. 27 for a few days to relaunch on Friday, Nov 1. They're also having a celebration on the 27th with 50% off everything, plus a garden party with half off beer and wine on Nov. 2 and 3. The menu will have more local food and new cocktails too.

See below for the full press release. I've always liked The Heights and am curious to try the new place! Sounds like the patio will remain about the same, which is great. What do you think? Sad to see the old stuff go?

UPDATE: I got a bit more info from them on their big indoor space: "It will remain an open layout as it is now, but it will divided in a way that creates a more intimate experience. For example, one change is there will be a row of booths down the center of that room, which will break up the space a bit more."

The Grand Re-Opening Happy Hour on Nov. 1st Follows A 50% Off Closing Sale on Oct. 27th

WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 7, 2013 – David Winer, Principal of EatWell DC LLC, announces the complete refresh of The Heights, the American eatery in Columbia Heights. The neighborhood staple will have an updated look to accompany a new menu created by the recently-appointed Head Chef, Kerry Tate. The Heights will close Sunday, October 27 and offer an all-day Everything Must Go half-off sale. The dining-room and bar will undergo a renovation before reopening five days later on Friday, November 1 at 5:00 p.m. with Happy Hour offered all night at the bar and in the new lounge area. The weekend celebration will follow with a “Beer & Wine Garden Party,” featuring half price beer and wine on the patio, from 2:00 p.m. until close on Saturday and Sunday, November 2 and 3. The changes will offer a warmer and more intimate feel for guests, with a refreshed and more diverse menu.

“The decision to revamp is an exciting one,” says principal Winer, “Neighborhoods are changing overnight, and with so many new restaurants and options in D.C., we wanted to take this opportunity to refresh our dining room and bar, as well as reinterpret the menu and beverage program. Every aspect of The Heights will be executed at a higher level, because we know our guests and neighbors are ready for a more diverse offering.”

The Heights’ changes follow the hire of Head Chef Kerry Tate, who is incorporating new local offerings into the menu, with an emphasis on produce sourced directly from EatWell DC’s EatWell Natural Farm in La Plata, MD. With over 20 years of culinary experience, he was most recently the Lead Chef at Slate Wine Bar, but came to The Heights to develop and evolve the menu to a higher level. A sampling of new menu items include French Fried Oysters with jicama kimchi and a meyer lemon tartare sauce, and Maple Brined Pork Tenderloin, served in a cider-dijon pan sauce with roasted sweet potatoes and apples.

In addition to the menu, the entire beverage program has been updated by Master Mixologist Lisa Weatherhold and The Heights’ Head Bartender Keith Vient, with an emphasis on hand-made cocktails and mixers, unique beers, and an entirely new wine program. Aesthetically, The Heights’ fresh look will offer a more comfortable bar and lounge area as well as more intimate seating and lighting.

These changes will all be offered following a “Closing Sale” where Everything Must Go! All day on October 27, all menu and beverage items will be offered at 50 percent off. The Heights will reopen on the evening of November 1 at 5:00 p.m. and reveal the new offerings with an all-night Happy Hour at the bar and in the new lounge area. The celebration will continue all weekend with a “Beer & Wine Garden Party” on the 80-seat patio. The event takes place from 2:00 p.m. until close on Saturday, November 2 and Sunday, November 3, featuring half price beer and wine.

For news, photos and events follow The Heights on Facebook and Twitter (@HeightsDC).

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About The Heights
The Heights, located in Washington, D.C.'s Columbia Heights neighborhood, offers eclectic American staples with an emphasis on locally sourced, fresh ingredients and craft beer and cocktails. Part of the EatWell DC restaurant group, The Heights features seasonal produce from the EatWell Natural Farm in La Plata, Maryland. With an 80-seat patio overlooking 14th Street and the lovely park at Kenyon, The Heights provides a comfortable, inviting setting in the heart of one of DC's most historic and diverse neighborhoods.
Location: 3115 14th St. NW, Washington, DC, 20010
Phone: 202-797-7227 Website:
Hours: Monday- Tuesday, 11:30am-10:30pm; Wednesday - Thursday, 11:30am-11:00pm; Friday, 11:30am-11:30pm; Saturday, 9:00am-11:30pm; Sunday, 9:00am-10:30pm

Monday, October 7, 2013

Want to live in a huge former auto garage in an alley off Irving? Coolest house ever?

I don't often write about real estate, but this is pretty awesome: a friend forwarded a listing on Redfin for a 4000 square foot garage located in an alley off the 1000 block of Irving Street NW. Formerly an automotive garage, the place has a lot of really awesome-looking murals (including a Chuck Brown one) and graffiti is wide open inside. As my friend said: "this is the coolest house I've ever seen."

It's listed at $849,900 and I'm sure it would cost a fair amount to make it a liveable space (and to bring it up to code to get whatever permits you'd need) but it looks like it could make for a really amazing warehouse-type living space. The listing says it has 1 1/2 bathrooms, which presumably means there was a shower and toilet in this garage -- I guess that makes sense, mechanics can get messy. It looks like it used to be a business called JC Auto & Frame Repair, but I don't remember ever seeing it open.

It looks like earlier in the year, developers asked to add two more stories and make it a multi-family residence, and the city said no -- this is the result.  Imagine the possibilities for your place -- art studio, band practice space, your own bowling alley or bocce court or mini-golf course, or Josh's loft from the movie Big. Or you know, something tasteful and refined.

So, anybody got $900,000 they want to give a local blogger to make a sweet house? What would you do if this were your place?

How did you like Columbia Heights Day? A recap in photos and tweets

Columbia Heights Day was this Saturday, and from everything I've seen, was a big success and a lot of fun. (Unfortunately I was out of town!) Here's a recap of lots of photos and tweets from In the Capital, what did you think? What was your favorite part? Let us know in the comments!

Personally I like Mayor Gray's "I am essential and so is statehood" t-shirt.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Bad news: Oktoberfest on Oct 6 at the Old Soldier's Home canceled due to the government shutdown

Thanks a lot, Congress. I just got word that the Oktoberfest planned for this Sunday at the Soldiers Home (aka Armed Forces Retirement Home) has been canceled due to the government shutdown, the home being a government organization. You can shutdown our government offices national parks, but shutting down our beer is the last straw.

Here's more info from the organizers. If you are registered to vote in another state, or even from another state, please call your reps and tell them to lay off!

Dear Friends,

I am sorry to report that we must cancel Sunday's Oktoberfest because of the government shutdown. The Soldiers Home has had to suspend all activities except those related to life and safety. This situation is beyond the control of the Home and the Friends of the Soldiers Home.

Our Friends board has spent an exhausting week trying to relocate the event or find some other way to go forward with it. (This is why we are informing you so late in the week.) In the end, nothing worked out.

We are disappointed because we had such a wonderful event planned. However, we keep our disappointment in perspective. Our thoughts go out to Soldiers Home staff, and to friends and neighbors, who have been furloughed or otherwise negatively affected by this shutdown. We are also thinking of Soldiers Home residents, who have lost recreational services because of the shutdown.

This time will pass. We plan many more opportunities to connect the community and the Home in celebration and volunteerism. The future looks bright for the Soldiers Home, the community, and the Friends of the Soldiers Home.


John Hughes
Friends of the Soldiers Home

Friends of the Soldiers Home is a non-profit organization serving to strengthen the bond between the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington and the surrounding community through service, education and engagement.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Oktoberfest at the Armed Forces Retirement Home on Oct. 6

The Armed Forces Retirement Home, located north of Howard University and Park View, is holding another event for the public: Oktoberfest. It's Sunday, Oct 6 from 1-5pm, and you can get in through the gate at the intersection of Rock Creek Church Rd NW and Randolph St NW.

From the looks of it, there will be beer, German music and dance, things for kids, and a lot more. 

Here's more info from them!

Sunday, Oct. 6, 1-5 p.m., southern grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home, Washington, D.C. (Gate entrance 333 Rock Creek Church Road N.W., intersection of Rock Creek and Randolph)

Starring: Washington DC German Band and the Bairisch und Steierisch Dancers*rain or shine*craft beer*food*kids' activities

Friends of the Soldiers Home is grateful for support from the Armed Forces Retirement Home, the AFRH Resident Fund Advisory Board, and DCMTB, DC's only mountain bike team and organizers of the DCCX cyclocross race held at AFRH on October 20, 2013.

Friends of the Soldiers Home is a non-profit organization serving to strengthen the bond between the Armed Forces Retirement Home and the surrounding community**** facebook:friendsofsoldiers**twitter:friendssoldiers

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Government shutdown deals in the neighborhood: burgers, yoga, sandwiches, drinks, more

Here's hoping you aren't affected by the government shutdown. But if you are, some local businesses have deals to ease the pain.

To relax yourself after getting angry about Congress, Past Tense Yoga is offering $10 yoga classes throughout the shutdown.

Z-Burger, our local delicious burger chain, will be giving away free burgers (free!) from 11am-1pm and 5-7pm every day, if you show your government ID. For their sake I hope it doesn't go very long.

Lou's City Bar is offering all-day happy hour with food specials and cheap drinks that vary.

Acre 121 has a special happy hour til 8 pm, and folks with government IDs get a $10 deal for a burger, veggie burger or pulled pork BBQ sandwich with a select draft or bottled beer for $10. (They also note they have a brand new menu and new chef and general manager.)

Taylor Gourmet, the sandwich spot at 14th and T is offering 10%, career counseling and a cookie for federal workers if you buy a hoagie or salad.

Kangaroo Boxing Club has $3 screwdrivers from 12-5pm, and the first is free if you show your government ID. 

And while not a special deal, it's still good: DC Reynolds has buy one-get one free.

If there are any more, leave them in the comments!

Chez Billy now open Mondays, hosting special regional dinners each Monday in October

Chez Billy, the nice French restaurant just north of the Petworth Metro, is now open on Mondays. They're also running new prix-fixe dinners on Monday highlighting regional cuisine from France. The first, this Monday, is on culinary traditions from Lyon. (They also said they'd be closing Sundays from now on.)

Here's more info on the events. Chez Billy is at 3815 Georgia Ave NW.

Starting in October, every Monday at Chez Billy we will showcase a three course meal of regionally-inspired fare from the diverse culinary landscape of France. Each month will highlight a region, city, or province, and the unique cuisine thereof. This month we will feature classic Lyonnaise dishes and wines from the neighboring Burgundy and Rhone regions.

This prix fixe menu is $40 per person for three courses, with three options for each course. Wine is not included, though your server will be happy to recommend appropriate and regional pairings, either by the glass or bottle. A la carte items from the prix fixe menu will be available in the bar area only. Regular menu items will not be available on Mondays.


October's menu options are as follows:

First course:

Soupe à l'oignon gratinée Lyonnaise - classic onion soup
Salade Lyonnaise - bacon, poached egg, frisée, croutons
Oeuf en Meurette - poached egg in Beaujolais, brioche, bacon, mushroom, pearl onion

Second course:

Saucisse Lyonnaise - roasted pork and pistachio sausage, lentils du Puy
Quenelle de Brochet - gently poached pike dumplings with lobster sauce and riz pilaf
Blanquette de Veau Grand Mère - creamy veal stew with potato puree

Third course:

Fromage Saint marcelin - local honey and walnut raisin toast
Crème Caramel
Tart Tatim

We hope you will attend, learn, and most importantly, enjoy. Click here to make your reservation, and rsvp on this space to let your friends in on your plans.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Teen-focused discount store Five Below moving into DCUSA: that means no grocery store.

Get ready for some more discount shopping: a reader emailed me today saying she had spotted a sign that Five Below, a store that sells things under $5, was coming to DCUSA near the Petco.

That seems to mean that DCUSA's large spaces are now full, with DSW taking the second floor spot and Petco and now Five Below taking the first. The efforts to attract a grocery store to fill the space that was supposed to be Ellwood Thompson's (aka the store that shall not be named) looks like it won't happen.

If you recall, Ellwood Thompson's, a Richmond-based organic supermarket, was supposed to open in DCUSA. However, they dicked the neighborhood around for three years, got a tax break, said they were coming soon, that they'd signed a lease, they were so close, almost there, nearly ready to open... and then they canceled the lease and opened in Bethesda. If you want to get angry, read the linked posts above about the store. Pardon my french, but fuck those guys.

But anyway, back to Five Below. I'm not familiar with the store, but their website says
Five Below, Inc. is the leading retailer of trend-right, extreme-value merchandise to the teen and pre-teen market - all for $1.00 to $5.00. 
Five Below's dynamic assortment of merchandise includes everything from sporting goods, games, fashion accessories and jewelry, to hobbies and collectibles, bath and body, candy and snacks, room décor and storage, stationery and school supplies, video game accessories, books, dvds, iPhone accessories, novelty and "gag," and seasonal items. Five Below combines exceptional value with trend-right, quality merchandise in a vibrant shopping environment.
I've also never heard the term "trend-right" before, but I guess it means whatever is currently trendy. The description kind of makes it sound like a cross bewteen Bed Bath & Beyond and Marshall's. They seem to haev a big holiday selection too, like Halloween stuff currently on their website.

Based on their website, the stores look pretty big. They have 280 stores around the country, including a fair amount in Virginia and Maryland. I'm not sure when it will open, and it's not listed on their site as one of the coming soon stores.

The store will go in space 124, I believe, below. 204 is DSW and 125 in Petco. (Note that this graphic is old, some of these stores never arrived or became something else.)