Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Maple expanding into Columbia Heights Coffee space, adding second floor, backyard seating

Maple, the American restaurant with some Italian touches at 3418 11th Street NW, will be expanding into the space that housed the now-closed Columbia Heights Coffee. The expansion will basically double their size, which is good as it was often really, really crowded.

PoP also reports that they'll also have a second floor space which people can reserve for events plus back patio seating.

Sounds like some good additions to a popular and well-liked place (it gets 4 stars from 100 reviews on Yelp) though I do still miss Columbia Heights Coffee.

Acre 121 with Monday Night Football deals, Black Friday specials

Black Friday, the big shopping day after Thanksgiving, is almost upon us. It's generally a completely crazy time in our area, what with DCUSA stores offering lots of specials. I tend to stay away, but there are those folks who want to try to get those deals.

And Acre 121, the southern restaurant on Irving near the Metro, is helping too, offering half off holiday drafts all night, which include Abita Christmas, Sam Winter, Magic Hat's Heart of Darkness and Woodchuck Winter Cider. I know I'd need a beer or three if I braved that holiday shopping madhouse. Reggae funk band the Bullbuckers play at 10 on Black Friday too.

They're also offering a new Monday Night Football deal for the rest of the NFL season called Pork & Pig Skin: $5 pulled pork sandwiches and $5 BBQ mac and cheese (no actual pig skin, only the metaphorical NFL kind.)

Monday, November 25, 2013

It's cold and flu season: what's the best local food if you're sick?

The weather is crummy and germs are going around -- it's cold and flu season. That means folks are getting sick and (hopefully) staying home, which also means they need to eat. What are some local food delivery places you'd recommend for sick folks?

I got sick a couple of weeks ago and didn't have much food in the house, so I went looking to order. The first thing that came to mind was Pho 14, which delivers to most of the area. To me, it's the ideal sick food: hot, herby and (relatively) healthy. I get the large, which is enough food for two meals. And it's good stuff: tasty, salty broth, lots of fresh basil, veggies, and the little cup of red spicy stuff, which helps to open up your sinuses. Add in some tea and you're in business. They also have an order online feature, but the credit card option wasn't working for me, so I gave them a call.

However, that's where my knowledge of good sick food spots ended, so I asked on Twitter and got a few other recommendations. Thaitanic II on 14th was one, @candacearm recommended the Tom Kha Gai (Thai chicken coconut soup.) They deliver, but with a $20 minimum. I bet a lot of their options would be good -- hot curries, soups, and the like.

Another person, @aoadcmetro, recommended the Colombian soup from Fonda Paisa in downtown Silver Spring. It's on the Red line, but doesn't seem to deliver.

So, how about you? Any other ideas? Leave them in the comments. To me, sandwiches and pizza aren't good sick food, but maybe some other folks disagree.

Image from giantmicrobes.com

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

ANC approves TGI Fridays with soundproofing; but are older people left out of Columbia Heights?

Last week I wrote about the opposition to the TGI Friday's coming to 14th and Monroe from some Monroe Street residents and senior citizens who live above the restaurant's planned location. They complained about music and noise from the restaurant, that it's open too late, and increased trash, rats, and traffic.

The Advisory Neighborhood Commission, the local council that basically approves liquor licenses, heard both people opposed and in favor of the restaurant at their last meeting, then voted to approve their liquor license. However, they added one caveat: the restaurant must install soundproofing.

The TGI Friday's issue raised some bigger questions from the Washington Post, however: are older residents being left out in the new development in the area? The Post speaks to a number of local residents who say a lot of the new bars and restaurants are too dark and too loud while clothing stores only have clothes for younger people -- tight fitting and the like. But before it gets to old man yells at cloud territory, there are some good, personal stories: people with titanium knees having to walk farther (in Cleveland Park due to a service lane parking dispute) and a lady who has sleep apnea worried that it will be hard to sleep if TGI Friday's is open late and has loud music. And there are some choice quotes:
“They keep referring to us as ‘the olds,’ and they forget that we were the generation that stopped the Vietnam War,” she said. “So if they thought that they were going to beat us on this little service lane, forget it. They treat us like such ancient people, and they think we don’t know anything. But we were smoking marijuana illegally long before they were a gleam in their parents’ eye. . . . The city is what it is today because all of us old folks stuck around and made it that way.”
It's a good point, to some extent. There are certainly some things that might annoy older residents, and they have been here a long time and worked help this city. They aren't just grumpy people who hate fun, they have some legitimate concerns. Then again, bigger market forces were the main drivers for this neighborhood's recent development. It's not like Columbia Heights was booming in the 80s and 90s.

Some Twitter users complained that the Post was making this some kind of age war, old versus young, and the blog In My Back Yard, which aims to support new businesses as opposed to the NIMBYs (not in my back yard), has an uncompromising, sarcastic take on it: "NIMBYs concerned tame, corporate, family restaurant will disrupt busy commercial district’s main thoroughfare."

Which is also a good point. TGI Friday's isn't a strip club or one of those huge clubs on New York Avenue. I doubt a Redskins player is going to get stabbed there, like happened at the Park on 14th downtown. In fact, I would be stunned if anyone even moderately famous came to this TGI Friday's, which is not a club at all. TGI Friday's is pretty lame. I bet the vast majority of customers will be couples in their mid-30s and older and maybe some friends and families who are tired from shopping at DCUSA. People don't go to TGI Friday's to party. If they do, they are probably pretty tame partiers.

In My Back Yard goes further, arguing that since the space has been empty for years, the residents of the Samuel Kelsey senior housing above it "have enjoyed all the benefits of living on the commercial district’s main thoroughfare without any of the trade-offs that usually come with a mixed-use building, so I can understand their perspective. But they should also understand that TGI Fridays is about as good of a tenant as they could have hoped for." They argue that it's actually a bad thing for everybody, basically.
"TGI Fridays could also be bad news for the young people the Post is fretting about. It’s exactly the type of bland, suburban restaurant they moved to Columbia Heights to avoid. After a few waves of hip people move to an up-and-coming neighborhood, high-income professionals and families may follow. With the last wave of new residents also comes higher rent and uncool neighbors. Sometime soon, young people may be forced to entirely abandon the neighborhood for hipper pastures in Brookland, Bloomingdale, and H Street NE, only to start the process again. 
The same economic forces and rules that give birth to neighborhoods popular with young people may ultimately cause their demise, at least for the hip crowd."
I had similar worries about just this issue a few years ago, that bigger chains (and expensive condos) were coming in to the neighborhood instead of anything local, small or interesting. You could argue that's happening in a lot of the hipper areas in New York City too -- expensive condos and high end retailers are pricing out the very things that made those areas cool.

Then, thanks in part to some commenters, I relaxed a bit, figuring that 14th Street is for the corny (but often useful) chain stuff, while the rest of the area still had plenty of funky local places: the "Hip Strip" of bars and restaurants on 11th Street and the spots on Georgia Ave and farther up 14th Street. In the very long run, those may be priced out too by bigger chains with broader market segments (see how greasy spoons and record stores in Georgetown have been replaced by froyo and cupcakes), but for now, I'm mostly ok with how things are going. Columbia Heights Coffee closing was a little worrisome though, assuming that competition from the much bigger, pseudo-chain The Coupe led to its demise. I hope it's not the canary in the coal mine.

But back to TGI Friday's: IMBY argues, basically, tough luck: "For the same reason we shouldn’t allow young people to ban families and chain restaurants to preserve their hip enclaves, we shouldn’t let senior citizens control regulatory matters because they don’t want their commercial building to be used as designed."

There are market forces at work here. If there's money to be made in businesses that cater to older people, they will probably open. It's possible that businesses didn't realize this demand existed before, and of course a market system isn't perfect (sometimes things are delayed or not optimal,) but in general the growth here in Columbia Heights is in establishments that cater to young singles and increasingly to young families.

I do hope there are places that also cater to older residents. The Post article makes some good suggestions for balance: maybe restaurants should be brighter and quieter earlier, then louder and darker later on as younger folks show up, for example. But at the same time, if you try to have something for everybody, you get nothing interesting. You get Georgetown or Chinatown at best, the lamest stripmall suburbs at worst.

It's a tricky argument, as the Post article is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy: if we say "sorry, older folks, things have changed," then we become the same entitled and selfish millenials that they and other media outlets complain about. But things are changing. Neighborhoods and cities always change. It's tough to balance that change, to balance services and respect for older residents with both the practical (but boring) things and the new, hip and fun spots that many of us want. I hope we can do it. TGI Friday's doesn't mean we can't.

TGI Friday's is pretty far down the list of things I want to come to the neighborhood, but it's not the end of the world.

Graffiti advertising somebody's Twitter and Instagram at the Petworth Metro

Graffiti in our area can be interesting or boring -- or, pretty funny, as this quick scrawl on an iPhone ad in the Georgia Avenue-Petworth Metro proves. Whoever it is really wanted the world to know about their tweets and Instagram pictures.

Pretty amusing that this is what people graffiti about now -- not my neighborhood is cool, or this is my gang or here's my graffiti tag name. What's next, Snapchat user name? Tinder profile?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Young people attacking strangers in Columbia Heights: the "knockout game"?

There's a disturbing trend in our area recently: young people seem to be playing something called the "knockout game," where they hit an unsuspecting person with the goal of knocking them out with one punch.

There have been three such attacks in Columbia Heights in the last week, with one occurring on 14th Street on Thursday around 10 pm, one on Friday in the same area, and another on 11th Street near Clifton. This is also a potentially fatal attack, and in the past people in other cities have been killed, with the perpetrators caught and charged with murder. The victims in DC have sustained bloody noses and other injuries, but thankfully nothing more serious than that.

All the attacks were done by a group of young men, though it's not clear if it's the same males each time. In the Clifton Street incident, the victim, a young woman, was riding her bike through a group of men. In the two 14th Street attacks, a group of males on bikes who rode up.

I don't need to say how terrible and despicable this kind of thing is, but please be mindful of your surroundings. Obviously it's sad to say that you should watch out for groups of men, but that seems to be the M.O. here.

I had a personal experience with something similar a few years ago too when a group of kids in Shaw just attacked me out of nowhere while I was walking on the sidewalk. I wasn't badly hurt and the kids were caught after they ran into the Shaw Metro, but it was a scary experience. I also got really mad afterwards: why would somebody do this? What is wrong with people?

There's a MPD 3rd and 4th district meeting Wednesday, which covers Columbia Heights, so I hope concerned people go and point this out to MPD. So far I haven't heard a response from the police.

The meeting is at the 4th District substation at 750 Park Road NW starting at 7 pm.

ANC chair Kent Boese pointed out on the Columbia Heights listserve two contacts with MPD if you have questions about the meetings or crime in general:

PSA 409 (north of Park Road)
Lt. Judith Mack

PSA 302 (south of Park Road)
Lt. Jonathan Munk

Monday, November 18, 2013

Checking out Washington Pizza: solid delivery pizza

A few months ago I wrote about the awesome mural on the Washington Pizza building at 14th and Randolph, and I finally got around to trying them. The result: solid delivery pizza.

They have a fair amount of decent specials for pizzas and subs, but I was feeling hungry so I got a large supreme and garlic knots, for a total of about $20. The knots were delicious, buttery and garlicky goodness, and the pizza was tasty. Decent crust, good ingredients. It's not as good as my favorites, like Italian Kitchen on U or fancier delivery spots like Pete's Apizza, but still solid. Definitely better than Manny & Olgas.

Aside from pizza, they offer a variety of subs and calzones, plus salads and various kinds of fries -- the pizza fries and bacon & cheese fries sound pretty interesting. Oddly, there's a sign on their building for Indian food, but I don't see that on the menu. Maybe that's next door.

You can order on Grubhub and Seamless, or their website, though the times can be a little off -- when I ordered, it said it would take about an hour but actually showed up in half that time. Always a nice problem to have.

They get 3.5 stars on Yelp. I'd say that's about right -- pretty good but not amazing. It does sound like they are responsive to problems, one person who ordered before and didn't receive all his items tried again a month later and they remembered, bringing him the things he didn't get before as a way to say sorry.

Filipino restaurant from Room 11 owners coming to old El Rinconcito Deportivo space on 11th

I don't have too many details, but thanks to ANC commish Kent Boese's Park View Newsletter, I learned that Nick Pimentel of Room 11 and Genevieve Villamora are looking to open a Filipino restaurant called Chitiking -- they are still working on the name, Chikiting is the name of their LLC.

It will be in 3226 11th Street NW, which used to be El Rinconcito Deportivo, a Latin American restaurant that closed a few months ago (note this isn't El Rinconcito II, a different place on Park Road NW.)

I'll be looking for more details, but considering how tasty Room 11's food and drinks are, I'm excited.

Friday, November 15, 2013

El Chucho now serving brunch!

Oh, man. I'm about to gain 100 pounds. El Chucho, the great Mexican restaurant and cocktail spot on 11th, started serving brunch last Saturday.

DCist reports the dishes are Mexican items with a brunch spin, and brunch items with a Mexican spin: chilaquiles with black beans, salsa, queso fresco in a tortilla, ham and poached eggs hollandaise on a huarache (sort of a fried tortilla), buttermilk masa (corn flour) pancakes with cinnamon butter, agave-maple syrup and fruit, and rum raisin tamales. That all sounds pretty fantastic.

As for drinks (which they're also known for) they'll have red or green Bloody Marys, mimosas and French press coffee.

I'm hungry now. DCist even calls 11th Street (what the New York Times called the Hip Strip) "Brunch Row." I like it.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Get your leaves picked up by the city for free, starting Nov. 18

DC Dept Public Works Leaf Collection in Action One of the city's many services starts soon -- the annual leaf collection drive. For those of us in Ward 1 east of 16th Street, that means the city's vacuum trucks will be coming around and sucking up raked leaves starting Nov. 18 through Nov. 30.

So what can you do to get your leaves taken? It's pretty simple: rake leaves into the treebox spaces on the sidewalk (that is, the places where trees grow or would grow, the grassy areas.) That's it! Make sure not to put them on the street or in the gutters, they can block gutters or be an impediment to parking. Then the city will come around with giant trucks with vacuums and take them up. Pretty simple, pretty cool.

The city's website has a bit more info, plus maps and things if you live outside of the Ward 1 east of 16th Street zone.

Photo by Wayan Vota

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Opposition to TGI Friday's from Monroe Street residents: ANC meeting on Wed. to discuss

The other day I got a couple of messages on Twitter from people with issues with TGI Friday's. When we got in touch via email, I learned that a number of residents of Monroe Street are opposed to the way TGI Friday's is dealing with them and their issues about the coming chain restaurant.

As you may recall, TGI Friday's is planning to open a 300-seat location in the space at the corner of 14th and Monroe, which is under the Samuel Kelsey Apartments for seniors. The neighbors say they've been trying to work with the restaurant on issues about noise, hours, trash and traffic, but the restaurant isn't compromising. The issues will be discussed at today's Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting, which will be at 7 pm at Tubman Elementary (13th and Kenyon.) I expect that it'll be pretty raucous.

The meeting will include a brief presentation from TGI Friday's and also a discussion of the restaurant's "settlement agreement," which is the agreement between the ANC and the restaurant that determines their hours of operation, trash plans and the like. A liquor license has legal limits to what the business can do, like how late they can stay open, how they handle trash, music, sidewalk cafes and so on, but often those limits are wider than what neighbors want. The agreement is a way to change those limits, with the threat that if they don't enter into an agreement, the ANC will oppose their liquor license. Kind of byzantine, but it seems to work. They used to call these "voluntary agreements," but they weren't very voluntary, hence the new name.

Here's more on those issues with TGI Friday's from a local resident, who asked to remain nameless.
(...) Everything went great until we questioned them on a couple of issues. They saw our settlement agreement and basically rejected any type of compromise on most of it. Their discourse on willing to do anything to be a good neighbor went out the door when we asked for them to amend their closing hours to around midnight. At that point their bullying behavior became apparent and they immediately shut us down without any room for discussion. the fact of the matter is that they have not shown any action or willingness to go out of their way to appease our concerns We asked for: No DJ/Livemusic band, No sidewalk cafe (there is not enough room either on Monroe or 14 St) Earlier than 2 amclosing time (12am), No dumpster on Monroe St. No deliveries during rush hour 
And so far we've got NONE of it. They said that they don't plan on having parties but then why do you need live music/DJ license until 2am? They are willing to consider not having side walk cafe but its in the plan right now so why would they be willing after all approvals are received to not do it just for us? If their concern was US, they would have already scrapped that from the plan.
The email is fairly long, but to summarize the next part, the restaurant said they'll put up an outdoor trash compactor, but the residents still fear rodents. They also note that Ruby Tuesday across the street closes at midnight. As for the deliveries, here's their take on that:
The impact on local traffic: Maybe here we got something from them by not having deliveries on Monroe but the hours for delivery on 14th St will make traffic just as bad as if they received deliveries on Monroe. We need to not allow deliveries anytime before 9 or9:30 am. Right now they plan on instructing supplier to deliver between 7 and 11 am which will cause a nightmare during rush hour for all that drive through the intersection as you can bet on having their trucks double parked and completely blocking traffics while they deliver. Having the two parking spaces as delivery only will not guarantee that the spaces will be available when deliveries show up.
The writer also mentioned bullying by TGI Friday's -- I asked for more information on that:
...in regards to the bullying, they basically accepted a meeting with ANC reps and us the Monroe St residents but when it came to negotiating any type of compromise so that the nuisance of their presence is not as bad, their position was "We have the permit so we'll do as we please and make as much money as possible" mostly when negotiating the closing hours. Also, when we mentioned the negative impact their business will have on parking for residents, they completely dismissed our concerns. We asked them to offer complimentary parking to their patrons at one of the two parking garages less than two blocks away and their response was "no one else is doing it around here so why should we" we told them that actually a few businesses do it and that would be a sign of good faith when it comes to showing their intentions on being a good neighbor. Again they dismissed us by saying we'll look into it. In regards to rodent control, they'r telling us that by having a compactor they will not cause an exacerbation of the already serious rat infestation problem we have on Monroe St. Any person with some common sense will know that this is not true. I will not even mention the way the building management is behaving with its residents because they asked not to make it public so I will abstain from commenting further and let them pick that battle if they wish to do so.
So, it's going to be an interesting meeting. There are obviously some strong feelings about TGI Friday's coming in, as the writer makes clear. Some of these complaints are at least somewhat justified, to me: the traffic issue, for example, as I've spent 15-20 minutes or more on the bus in the mornings trying to get from about Newton the Irving. If TGI Friday's loading and unloading cargo is planned at the same time and that affects traffic, that would be bad. That's a big if, but traffic is already terrible there, we don't need more things making it worse. Maybe deliveries on Monroe rather than 14th would actually be better, if that's the case.

I also somewhat agree with the concerns about the hours and DJ. I don't expect there to be a huge dance party at Friday's, but I can see how neighbors would be concerned, especially if Ruby Tuesday across the street seems to have always been a good neighbor and agreed to reduce their hours. It doesn't seem fair for TGI Friday's to not do that, and I expect we'll hear a lot about that.

I'll reserve judgement on the other issues, as to me this seems more like a disinterest in compromise rather than actual bullying by the store, since most of these things they are legally allowed to do.

It's also it's important to note that we haven't heard from Friday's in this case either. We will tomorrow.

What do you think? Do these complaints seem reasonable?

Whoa! Just hit two million views for the blog!

So this is a little bit of navel-gazing, but I just noticed that this blog's Google Stats clicked over to 2,000,000 pageviews yesterday. That's pretty amazing! And it may seem cheesy, but honestly, thank you all, the readers, for reading.

I started this blog in early 2008 because there was no one news source for Columbia Heights even though there was a lot going on here -- a lot of change, a lot of new residents and new development, a lot of interesting issues to write about. I wished there were a better place to find all that, and then I figured, why don't I just try it?

The first substantive post (aside from a welcome to this blog post) was about police setting up a checkpoint to stop cars on 13th Street -- and since then, there have been more than 2600 posts, everything from local development news to crime, history, sports, food and drink, booze bottles on the streets, even April Fool's jokes (I think my favorite was Wonderland getting replaced by a Taco Bell) to crazier stuff like a skateboarding bulldog and an alley full of dildos. (You can see all the tags for the posts on the right side of the blog.)

In fact, the Taco Bell and dildo posts are still among the top 5 most popular posts according to the stats, but interestingly, the two most popular by far are a short one about an extremely loud and lengthy boom late one night (turns out it was just thunder, but at the time it sounded like an explosion, and a lot of commenters agreed) and one about a Pizza Hut possibly coming to 14th and Fairmont, which actually ended up being a Domino's. Maybe people in Columbia Heights really like pizza. And loud booms, and dildos.

But whether or not that's true, I want to say thanks to all my friends and neighbors over the years who I've cajoled to write guest posts for the blog. I also wanted to thank my advertisers over the years. I don't do this for the money, but it's nice to be able to keep it running because of the support from local businesses -- and vice versa, I hope all these eyes on your ads has helped you out as well!

But most of all, thanks to everyone for reading and commenting. As always, you all, the readers, are often the best source of news for the blog -- if you hear of anything interesting or new or have some ideas or feedback, please email me.

This blog has been a lot of fun to run, and I anticipate it will keep being fun for me and hopefully fun and informative for all of you too. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

WMATA to test SmarTrip recharging stations at 16th street bus stops

Sounds like WMATA is working to think of some ways to make the bus system more efficient -- next June they're going to start testing kiosks to load money on your SmarTrip card at some bus stops on 16th Street.

The idea is that it will make boarding quicker -- right now it takes between 5 and 30 seconds for people to reload the card while boarding the bus, and often that happens once per every 14 or even 7 riders on some routes, meaning there's a lot of delays.

As a person who has both forgotten to add money to their card and a person who's been behind somebody taking forever to add money, I think this is a great idea. Even short delays can result is longer ones -- you wait a few seconds, miss a light, more people show up, buses get clustered, and so on -- it cascades. Everything we can do to make the system quicker would help.

Now if they'd just get rid of half of the stops on 14th Street!

Image from PlanitMetro

Checking out Five Below in DCUSA: kind of weird, good if you need presents

The other day I stopped into Five Below, the newest store in DCUSA (and by my calculations, one of the last open spaces in the building.) The store's idea is that everything is $5 or less. I hadn't been before and a buddy described it as "a teenage girl's dream," which is right to some extent as there's a lot to appeal to teens and pre-teens. I also think it would be a good place for gifts, especially stocking stuffers or secret Santa type presents, or little things for kids or coworkers.

The store is packed with all manner of things, from seasonal items like Santa hats, lights, garlands and such to tons of toys: board games like a build your own Monopoly tower game, knock-off Legos, and lots of balls for various sports. There was lots of candy, including Apples to Apples jelly beans. They had a DVD and CD section and some small electronics, like headphones, phone chargers and such. There was also a small housewares section with garbage cans, kitchen stuff and so on. They have greetings cards too, some $5 t-shirts that seem to be aimed at teens, and a lot of other random items like a Baltimore Ravens wizard hat. You know, in case you were looking for one of those. 

It's kind of a neat store, a little like Big Lots, if you're familiar with that, but without as much random weird stuff. Might be good if you just need some cheap stuff for around the house, as well.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Need a toilet? Go to Kenyon Street

Street toilet

I've written a lot in my series on Street Booze, where I photograph (and often dispose of) alcohol cans and bottles strewn around our sidewalks. However, it's not often you see a toilet.

Last weekend I was out with some buddies walking down Kenyon towards 14th Street and spotted this toilet just sitting there. I presume they have it out for bulk trash pickup, but it's a strange sight. I wonder if any folks took pictures with it after hitting the bars for a few hours.

I haven't been back down that block lately, so I hope it's gone now.

And thankfully, it didn't seem to have been used. I didn't inspect too closely, however.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pants, the best cat ever, is missing -- have you seen him?

It's always sad to see missing pet signs, but this one is especially sweet. An owner is looking for the best cat ever, a roughly 6-year old orange male cat who "sometimes kind of responds to the name Pants."

It has a sparkly black collar. If you've seen him, please give the number a call. Sounds like a nice cat and an owner who really misses him.

Best cat ever missing

Best cat ever

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wash. Post on ShotSpotter: Columbia Heights, Park View, Petworth a hotbed of gunshots

The Washington Post recently published a lengthy and fascinating look at ShotSpotter, a technology the Metropolitan Police Department uses to locate where gunshots were heard. And the news isn't good if you live in Park View or Petworth.

Basically, different sensors around the city listen for gunshots and the attempt to triangulate their location so police can respond quickly. The Post's analysis includes info on how the system works, how the police use it, when shootings happen and more, but one of the most interesting parts is the interactive map of density of detected gunshots. And it turns out that Park View or Petworth and one of the densest areas in the city for gunshots -- the other dense areas are Trinidad, parts of Southwest, and a few areas east of the river.

The densest area in our neck of the woods seems to extend from about 13th and Quincy southeast to Warder and Irving, with less dense (but still fairly high) areas extending radially from there. It's a little scary, seeing as how many there are in our area. Most of Columbia Heights is in the blue area, meaning 200-350 detected gunshots since 2009.

The article also tracks when they happen, which is mostly at night, centered on midnight, and what time of the year.

It's sort of an interesting counterpoint to my post about if you think Columbia Heights is safe. I still think it is safe, and I bet most of these are targeted shootings but it's still very worrisome and something I want to look into further. We should figure out how as a community we can stop this trend.

UPDATE: Councilman Jim Graham forwarded me an email from MPD Chief Cathy Lanier, who notes that many of the reports were heard but not verified to actually be gunshots -- so some may be false positives. Maybe they were fireworks or some other sound.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Help the Columbia Heights Community Marketplace raise money for needy families

This is great: the Columbia Heights Community Marketplace, our neighborhood farmers market, is holding a Thanksgiving event to donate $50 of credit to the market to needy families. Their original goal was to raise enough to donate $50 to 50 families, but they've already topped that number. Their new goal is to raise enough to donate to $100 to those families -- $5,000!

You can help by going here and donating what you can, and read on for more info from the Marketplace folks:
The Columbia Heights farmers market has already surpassed its goal of raising $2,500 to give 50 needy families $50 each to spend at the market before Thanksgiving. Based on the success, they're now shooting to raise $5,000 with less than 2 weeks to go.

Every year the market matches federal food assistance dollars 2-to-1 to help low-income residents access the fresh local food at the market. That program has been a huge success, so much so that the market runs out of cash every year well before the end of the season. The Farmers Market Thanksgiving campaign came about to extend that program at a time of year when people are celebrating food and family. 
An added bonus: the money goes to the local producers and farmers that make the market so special.

It's not too late to help out. Check out their fund raising page here

New Chinese acupressure and reflexology shop opens near 14th and Monroe

If you're looking for some reflexology or acupressure, there's an option in the area now. My friend sent me a flyer she got on the street the other day advertising Serenity Health & Wellness at 3421 14th Street NW, between Monroe and Newton. They're open 10am-10pm Monday through Saturday and 11am-8pm on Sundays.

For those not familiar, acupressure is similar to acupuncture, the form of traditional Chinese medicine where needles are inserted into certain parts of the body to relieve ailments. However, in the case of acupressure, there aren't needles, just pressure form the hands or other items.

Reflexology is similar, but uses pressure on the feet and hands for a supposedly similar effect.

Anyone try either? How did it go?

Monday, November 4, 2013

First look at Park View Patio, new bar with huge patio in Blue Banana space on Georgia, opening Thurs.

Park View Patio

This weekend a few friends and I checked out Park View Patio, a new bar that replaced the Blue Banana sports bar at 3632 Georgia Avenue NW, between the Looking Glass Lounge and DC Reynolds.

The bar has new owners and a new feel -- there are still a number of TVs, but the inside is a bit more hip with dark colors and mirrors. The main attraction to me though is the back patio, which is huge and filled with picnic tables. The Blue Banana never really utilized their patio area, while Park View Patio has expanded all the way back to the alley (the same depth as DC Reynolds) and took over the next door lot's back area. It's massive, with two bars, and I think it would be great for springtime. I chatted with Scott, one of the owners, and he said they also plan to install a 40 foot retractable tent with clear ceiling, plus heaters, so it could be a good place for the cold weather as well.

As for food, they're currently working on finding a chef and finalizing their selections, but they will have a full kitchen. They might work with a chef or two who has experience from various Food Network TV shows, like Diners, Drive-ins and Dives or one guy who won a show called Cutthroat Kitchen, but it's still up in the air. For now they'll have various food trucks or food vendors -- when we were there, they had Green Eggs Burger's truck set up in the back (you can see that above.)

They'll be open Thursday-Sunday at first and will have buy one-get one free happy hours from 6-9pm each of those days.

The interior space is similar to when it was the Blue Banana, though it looks more open -- they took out the wall that was on the side when you come in. They plan to have DJs often and I get the feeling it'll still be a good place to watch football on Saturdays and Sundays or other sporting events since they still have the TVs.

The owners also own a couple of places in Georgetown and Cleveland Park called George, Mason Inn and Capitale, with which I'm not familiar. Apparently George is members only, but Park View Patio sounds more laid-back than the other spots. Scott also mentioned that he didn't think competition between the bars in the area was a bad thing -- if anything, they have different themes and the more places, the more people will come to the area. I agree with that.

It'll be interesting to see how Park View Patio develops, and nice to see something replace the Blue Banana -- which I sort of liked, but it never really had an identity aside from a place to watch games. The patio and food should change that for this new place. It's a similar idea to DC Reynolds though, so we'll see.

What do you think? Excited? There are a few more photos below.
Park View Patio
The inside

Park View Patio
The second outdoor bar (third total) to be opened in big crowds. That's DC Reynolds through the slats.