Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Heller's Bakery has closed in Mt. Pleasant due to rent increase

Heller's Bakery

A local mainstay is no more. The Post reports that Heller's Bakery, a community stape since 1928, has closed. The bakery, with its iconic mural and cool old metal and neon sign, has served up coffee, pastries, cakes and such for a long time. I often liked to stop by for a donut after going to the Mt. Pleasant Farmers Market.

The Post says that the rent, which was already $7,500, would have increased shortly, and the bakery was having a tough time paying bills already and had fallen behind. The building's owner, Jean Lujan, also owned the bakery in the past, but didn't sound too sad to see it go:
“I like them and, in many ways, they’re fine tenants,” she said of [owners] the Duni brothers. “But I didn’t want to be struggling for the rent. A bakery is a very hard business to run. I’m not sure there’s room for that kind of place anymore.”
A new tenant may want to change the mural, Lujan said, “and I wouldn’t balk, although I don’t know if the neighborhood would balk.”
Despite the lack of sentimentality, it's an interesting point. Le Caprice Bakery at 14th and Meridian is popular and wonderful, but I think most of their business is coffee, sandwiches and pastries to go, rather than bigger things like cakes, which Heller's seems to do a lot. And I've heard mixed things about the cakes and other baked goods from friends and on Yelp. (In fact, I have a few friends who hate Heller's, but I've never fully understood why.)

It sounds like the business is dead, there's no mention of them reopening somewhere else. And it's too bad.

Photo by Afagen

Monday, December 29, 2014

Super weird ads up in bus stops: stop erectile dysfunction, PMS, roaches

This seems legit. The other day I spotted a series of weird ads stuck to bus stops in the area: some are for minerals that will cure pretty much anything, some are for cedar to keep away pests, and some similarly odd ones. 

They're all made in the same style with similar generic email addresses: you know something is legitimate if the emails all end in a number. (That said I think cedar actually can keep away some bugs, though I've never heard of it for mice or rats.)

Always something interesting going on at our bus stops. That said, good for Miss Sydney trying to be an entrepreneur.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Police dressed as elf on a Segway, Santa on a motorcycle spotted in the neighborhood

You don't see this every day. Apparently an elf and Santa have been rolling through the neighborhood on MPD Segways and motorcycles giving candy to kids. They are sometimes wearing uniforms (as least, according to the video's caption) so one would assume these are police officers being nice rather than holiday-themed vehicle thieves, though.

Watch more Police videos on Frequency

Friday, December 19, 2014

Be careful driving around a bus: Metrobus gets in accident with SmartCar at 14th and Irving

This is kind of wild: a couple nights ago I was headed to the 14th Street bus at Irving Street and noticed there was no driver -- that's odd. Then I walked around to the front and saw why: a SmartCar was t-boned by the bus.

There didn't seem to be much damage and I didn't see any ambulances or police, but it's a reminder: be careful when driving around a bus, especially if you are in a little car.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Confirmed: The Heights restaurant has been sold, but will remain with the same concept

The other day, PoP mentioned a rumor that The Heights restaurant at 14th and Park has been sold, and may change to a burger place. Not being content to run with this rumor, I reached out to their press people, and they confirmed that it has in fact sold, but will remain with the same concept (not a burger place.)

Here's what they had to say:
The Heights, Columbia Heights’ neighborhood restaurant, is set to change owners by the start of 2015, with the concept to remain intact. Having gone under contract earlier this week to local restaurateur Ammar Daoud, the deal will transpire once license transfers are complete. Daoud, who has over 20 years of experience operating casual dining brands in the U.S. and internationally, plans to keep the restaurant operational as the neighborhood-centric place it has been for the past seven years, with all staff remaining. 
The Heights is currently under the ownership of EatWell DC, which owns and operates four other neighborhood restaurant concepts: The Pig, Logan Tavern, Commissary and Grillfish. Upon completion of the contract’s transfers, EatWell DC will focus on these restaurants as well as explore future endeavors within Washington, D.C. A priority remains growing its produce farm, EatWell Natural Farm, located in La Plata, Maryland. 
The Heights’ eclectic American fare and emphasis on locally sourced, fresh ingredients and craft beer and cocktails will continue, but Daoud’s vision does include a menu update to in the future to create a more alfresco dining experience. The Heights will continue to honor EatWell gift certificates through March 31, 2015, and this year’s New Year’s Eve offerings will remain as previously publicized.
Sounds good to me. I've always like The Heights for brunch and dinner. 

Do not drink water advisory in Shaw, DC Water suggests Natty Boh instead

It seems like a good day for awesome news (unless you are a Shaw resident.) Last night, DC Water alerted residents in part of Shaw and Logan Circle, from about 7th to 13th Streets north of Rhode Island, that they were under a "do not drink" advisory, due to a petroleum-like smell. They also recommended not to wash dishes or bathe with the water. Concerned people started tweeting at them about it with questions and concerns, and this is where it got funny.

One question came from a Twitter user named @hattyboh, presumably after the Baltimore beer, who asked what they should do if they don't smell anything but they're in the affected area.
Nice. People actually did drink beer rather than water in the past because they believed water wasn't healthy. Despite being well outside this area, I figured I had better follow that rule and have a beer myself. Nice to see DC Water being helpful and funny at the same time.

Hilarious: Lou's City Bar to host "Redskins wake" on Saturday (as in, they are dead)

This is great. Lou's City Bar, the sports bar at 14th and Irving, is hosting a wake for the Redskins this Saturday during their game with the Eagles. As in, the ceremony held in the home of someone who died. The team, as you probably know, has had yet another painfully dismal season. 

Here's what the folks at Lou's had to say:
Washington Wake 
Saturday football is back in the NFL. The Skins will cast a somber tone over the proceedings as they lay in state at FedEx Field vs. the Eagles at 4:30pm. Funeral services will be held at Lou's City Bar. Black attire is suggested, and “Im-peach Snyder” shots will be given out for each nail the Eagles put in the coffin. Following a loss, Lou's will black out next week's purgatorial Deadskins-Cowboys finale.
In addition, Lou's also sent out an email with this subject: "What do New Year's Eve and the Redskins have in common?" The answer, of course, is dropping the ball.

Well done, Lou's folks. This is the funniest thing I can think of a bar doing in a long time.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Black Lives Matter, I'll Ride with You posters and projections in Mt. Pleasant

Last night, designer Carol Summers spotted some interesting activist art in Mt. Pleasant about supporting Muslims in Sydney after the hostage situation there, and about the response to recent police shootings of young black men in Missouri, Ohio and elsewhere.

She spotted a light projection on the wall of the vacant Suns Discount store at Mt. Pleasant Street and Kilbourne reading "I'll ride with you," after the response to the Sydney hostage situation where Australians vowed to ride along with Muslim transit-goers who were afraid of being harassed for their religion.

In addition, the same wall has a number of posters about the recent police shootings in Ohio, Missouri and elsewhere: they read "Black Lives Matter," "Solidarity with Black Moms" and other similar messages.

Interesting to see the spread of these messages. A bit ago I noticed "black lives matter" graffiti on a few construction sites.
A photo posted by Carol Summers (@milangarnet) on

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Bell's beer event tonight at Kangaroo Boxing Club: rare Black Note Stout

If you're into beer, check out the Kangaroo Boxing Club today for their holiday party featuring Bell's Beer, the popular Michigan microbrewery that makes Two Hearted Ale, among lots of other delicious beers.

They'll have a keg of a rare stout, plus a cask of Two Hearted, as well as cookie decorating and lots of swag from the brewery.

Read on for the details, and click the poster for a bigger version.
[Tonight] (12/16) at 8pm KBC is hosting Bell's Brewery: 2nd Annual Holiday Party & Black Note Stout release. We were able to get our hands on one of the only kegs of Black Note Stout in DC. We'll be tapping it tomorrow at 8pm along with their Christmas Ale and a special cask one of their most popular beers, Bell's Two Hearted Ale. Come on in and decorate cookies and then we'll be smashing a Bell's piƱata! Lots of Bell's stuff to give out as well!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Help support 826DC mentor and tutor kids, get funky holiday gifts at the Museum of Unnatural History

Christmas and Hannukah are near, meaning it's time to get some gifts for friends and family. One option is 826DC's Museum of Unnatural History, the funky strorefront on the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza that helps support 826DC, the nonproft that helps tutor and mentor children.

They just published a gift guide, and it seems like a great idea. They always have a lot of neat and wacky stuff. Read on (and click it or the link below for the bigger version.)
The Museum of Unnatural History proudly presents a guide to holiday shopping this season. It's not too late to support our free tutoring, writing, and publishing programs for students by shopping 826. Visit the store in Columbia Heights or online! Or you can always give directly to 826DC here. Your trusty purveyor of unnatural oddities, tools, and treasures would like to wish all friends of 826DC a warm Season's Greetings and a Happy New Year! 
Having trouble viewing this image? Click here to view in a new window.

Friday, December 12, 2014

TGI Friday's is (most likely) not coming to 14th and Monroe

A couple of weeks ago I wrote that Ruby Tuesday at 14th and Monroe has closed, and that there was a rumor that TGI Friday's was no longer going to open on the opposite corner. 

There's a sign that it's for rent and ANC chair Kent Boese said "it's safe to say it's on hold," so I reached out to the company to confirm. After eventually they got back to me, first not answering the question, then when pressed saying "I apologize, but at this time, we do not have information regarding whether or not a location will be open in Columbia Heights."

To me, that's a no. Why would they say they have no information if the restaurant is opening? My first email to them included a link to an earlier post about the location and they responded only with "That is an old article dated from November 20, 2013. There are currently 2 TGI Fridays in the DC area. There is one at the airport and one on Pennsylvania Ave." 

Yeah, no kidding, TGI Fridays, I am able to use Google.

So, it's not happening. And that's ok with me. I hope something good goes into the Ruby Tuesday and TGI Fridays spaces. What would you like to see there?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Little Free Library now installed at 11th and Irving, take or drop off a book!

You may recall a few months ago that two different groups were looking to set up Little Free Libraries in our area -- small boxes where people can take or drop off books for free. One was to be positioned near Tubman Elementary School, the other in Petworth near Grant Circle. Both had Kickstarter pages to buy the materials, and both were fully funded by donors.

And now I hear that the Tubman one is installed -- organizer Kate Robinson tweeted the above pic of the box located at the southeast corner of 11th and Irving Streets NW. The idea is for it to have both childrens books for the Tubman kids, and others for everybody. So if you're in the area, stop by and check out a book or donate your own!

New diner coming to Georgia & Upshur from Paul Ruppert (Room 11, Petworth Citizen etc)

Wow, the folks behind Room 11, Petworth Citizen, Uphsur Street Books and Crane & Turtle are really doing a lot on Upshur: the City Paper and PoP reported a bit ago that they're opening a diner to be called Slim's Diner at Georgia and Upshur, in the neat old Murrel Building.

The building has been empty for some time, and I'm glad it's getting used, it's a neat throwback.

The City Paper reports they are still working on the details, so I don't have any dates or more info, but the address will be 4201 Georgia Ave NW.

It really seems like Paul Ruppert and crew are going all-in on Upshur Street, adding three new restaurants and a shop in the last few years, to go along with existing spots like Domku, clothing store Willow, Bentley's Antiques, and the others. It's almost like Ruppert and crew are to Upshur Street as Joe Englert is to H Street. And that's pretty awesome, if you ask me.

Photo from Google Streetview

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Circulator bus to extend to Howard U, link Columbia Heights with H Street NE & Brookland in the next decade

Looks like there may be some new ways to get around the city via the Circulator bus in the next few years. The city's Department of Transporation, DDOT, is planning some extensions to existing routes from 2015 to 2017, plus some new routes coming from then until 2024.

In the first phase, the Dupont-Georgetown-Roslyn route will be extended to U Street/Howard University or Howard University Hospital. It's tough to tell from the map but it appears to end near 14th and U, though the report doesn't specify where. The later down the road, the Adams Morgan-H Street NE line would run through our area as well -- and that would be a great one to have. Right now there's no great way to get to H Street NE from our area.

Here are the recommended corridors and exensions, and here's the full (very long) report from DDOT which includes some routes they considered but decided against. Click the map for a bigger one!
Recommended Corridors
Phase I: Near-Term (FY 2012-2015)
• Union Station – Skyland – Camp Simms
• Dupont Circle-Georgetown-Rosslyn extension to U St/Howard University
• North Mall—Union Station to Georgetown
• South Mall—Union Station to Arlington Cemetery
• Union Station—Navy Yard extension to NoMa
• Dupont Circle—Southwest Waterfront – Navy Yard 
Phase II: Mid-Term (FY 2016-2018)
• Adams Morgan—H St NE
• St. Elizabeths Campus/Congress Heights—H St NE
• Tenleytown—Brookland  
Phase III: Long-Term (FY 2019-2020)
• Tenleytown—Silver Spring
• Minnesota Avenue to Skyland
h/t DCist

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

9th annual Upshur Street Arts & Crafts Fair this Saturday

If you're looking for gifts for the holidays, or just something cool for yourself, this Saturday is the 9th annual Upshur Street Arts & Crafts Fair. It sounds like fun and another good reason to get to recently booming Upshur Street:
WHAT:  Come celebrate the holiday season with our free outdoor arts and crafts festival sponsored by the diverse community businesses on Upshur Street in Petworth! Shop along the 800 block of Upshur street and discover art and handmade gift items from DC-area artisans. Businesses along the street will be open so that you can enjoy even more shopping and warm up with some food and drink. Local musicians will provide free entertainment throughout the day. New at the fair this year: an open yoga studio with massage and some free classes, a bike tuneup to winterize your bike, and a whole area of activities for the kids! Brought to you by the Upshur Street Business Cooperative. 
WHEN:  Saturday, December 13, 2014 from 11:00am-4:00pmWHERE:  The 800 block of Upshur Street NW, Washington, DC 20011 MORE INFORMATION: . Questions? contact fair coordinator Kieca Mahoney at, or follow us on Facebook.
And here's more about the local businesses on the street, which will be offering deals and events:
If you get chilly, you can pop inside for more shopping at Willow DC or Fia's Fabulous Finds. You can also pick up a new read at Upshur Street Books, find a vintage treasure at Bentley's Vintage Furniture & Collectibles or have a bite to eat at Domku or Petworth Citizen if you need a warm-up. While you shop, you can enjoy music from local musicians courtesy Listen Local First DC.

If your shoulders are getting sore from all the bags you are carrying, Lighthouse Yoga Center is hosting an open house and Petworth Massage will be offering sliding-fee mini-massages. Once you are refreshed, walk across the street to the Petworth Library for their annual used book sale. Then pop over to Annie's Ace Hardware, where you can get a winter bike tuneup, or pick up some holiday decorations and a tree.

Last but definitely not least, visit the kids’ annex we have in the CrossFit Petworth space, right under Annie’s. Glazed Over will be having a special ornament decorating session, there will be games and crafts for the kids, and you can decorate our wish tree with your holiday wishes.

We can’t wait to see you there!

"Black lives matter" graffiti on construction sites 14th Street

The other day I noticed some graffiti reading "Black lives matter," a catchphrase from the recent protests about the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. I spotted this one at 14th and Spring on black plastic on the fence around the new condos under construction there, and I also saw some farther down 14th near Oak on temporary wood fencing on another construction site.

Always interesting to see political speech like this, and I wonder if they chose the temporary fencing so it's not vandalism, or at least not as severe. The wood fences often get wheatpasted ads anyway.

Monday, December 8, 2014

An interview with Harrar Coffee & Roastery: their weekly Ethiopian coffee ceremony, Ethiopian coffee and more

A bit ago I was approached by the folks at Harrar Coffee & Roastery on Georgia Avenue about their coffee ceremony, a traditional part of Ethiopian culture, and about their coffee. I wasn't very familiar with the ceremony, which they do every Saturday (pictuered here) or why Ethiopian coffee is always talked about, and I've enjoyed my visits to Harrar, so we decided to chat. Here's what Ali from Harrar had to say about the ceremony and their coffee.

Tell us how Harrar Coffee & Roastery came about.

Harrar Coffee & Roastery is a local, family-owned business offering a variety of high-quality coffees at a competitive price. We opened our coffee shop with a single vision: to deliver outstanding coffee to our community. We are determined to become a “must-have” and the go-to cafe for the neighborhood’s coffee lovers and local businesses.

What is an Ethiopian coffee ceremony?

As many may not know, Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, we came up with the idea of serving our coffee once a week in the traditional way. The coffee ceremony is a tradition and ancient way of Ethiopian social and cultural life. The way we perform the ceremony is passed on through generations. In Ethiopia, an invitation to join a coffee ceremony is considered a mark of friendship and respect. Performing the ceremony is obligatory in the presence of a visitor no matter the time of the day. We only use fresh roasted coffee to preserve the quality and the taste, which is why we take our time and roast the green coffee in front of the guests to offer them nothing but the best. The ceremony is usually conducted by a woman dressed in the traditional Ethiopian clothing of a white dress with colored woven borders. Harrar Coffee & Roastery offers this tradition and ancient way of tremendous respect, love and hospitality to our customers every Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

How does Ethiopian coffee differ from other coffee?

There are over 200 different types of coffee variety in Ethiopia. However, most people know only a few. Ethiopian coffees are bold and flavorful because of the soil and climate they are cultivated on. If you take the exact same coffee bean and plant it in different countries, the results will differ. Harrar Coffee & Roastery future plan is to bring numerous coffee types from Ethiopia and other African countries and offer it to our customers for an affordable price. Also, in an effort to encourage the small Ethiopian farmers, who produce the coffee through time-honored and traditional farming methods, we would like to one day plant coffee trees in Ethiopia to help fight climate changes in the world.

Can you tell us about your beans and roasting?

We cannot state it enough, but we stand behind our quality coffee. The other thing that makes us unique is that we use Harrar coffee for our espressos drinks. Considered the best coffee in Ethiopia and probably around the world, Harrar coffee is grown in the Harar region of Ethiopia Eastern highlands, and is the oldest coffee beans still produced. It is known for its distinctive fruity, wine flavor. The bean is medium in size with a greenish-yellowish color. It has medium acidity and full body and a distinctive mocha flavor. Harrar Coffee is a dry processed coffee bean with sorting and processing done almost entirely by hand.

We roast our coffee in small batches daily. As we all know fresh is the way to go for the best cup of coffee. We pride ourselves in providing the freshest and flavorful coffee in town. At the moment, we offer Harrar, Sidamo, Yirgacheffe, Amaro Gayo, Limu from Ethiopia, Supremo, Excelso and Decaf from Colombia, Kenya and Peru to name a few.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Here are some places to get a Christmas tree in the neighborhood

It's December, which means Christmas is coming soon, and that means trees and decorations. Here are a few places to get Christmas trees in the area, and if you know more, leave them in the comments!
  • The DC Bilingual Public Charter School is having a sale this Saturday from 9am-3pm at 1420 Columbia Rd. NW, to benefit their school (see flyer.) They're also selling them as I post this, and possibly Sunday if there's trees left.
  • The Columbia Heights Community Marketplace is also selling them each Saturday at the Civic Plaza from 9am-1pm
  • And Target has fake trees (and maybe real ones?)
Got any other suggestions?

Did you go to Columbia Heights Day? Give feedback with a survey from the organizers

The folks behind Columbia Heights Day, the annual street party and festival that was a few months ago, are looking for your feedback.

Did you attend, volunteer or work at a booth? Let them know how it went!

Here's the link. It's only 6 questions, so help them out!

Personally I liked how it went late into the day and the wide variety of food, drink and booths. But like Reading Rainbow, don't take my word for it!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

4th annual Columbia Heights Christmas tree lighting this Saturday

Just got a note for this fun event, the fourth annual Columbia Heights Christmas tree lighting at the Civic Plaza (the triangle at 14th/Kenyon/Park.)

Here's more from the organizers' Facebook page:
The holidays are upon us and Collaborate to Impact (CTI) is getting ready to deck the halls of Columbia Heights for the fourth annual Columbia Heights Tree Lighting Extravaganza! Every year CTI partners with neighborhood businesses, nonprofits and churches to host this spectacular night of holiday fun.

The lighting ceremony will be Saturday, December 6th at 6:30pm. Last year we had over 400 people attend the lighting. The tree is a wonderful way for residents from across the city (not just Columbia Heights!) to come together as a community during the holiday season and we'd love for you to join us.

Please contact Brianne Dornbush at for more info or to volunteer. Look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Beware, package thieves hitting 1400 block of Oak, 1300 block of Spring, others?

I've heard from a few folks lately who have been having problems with packages either going missing from outside their homes or being torn open -- so be careful if you're getting things delivered.

If you've had this happen, please call the police, and let us know in the comments the (general) area. I plan to get in touch with someone at DC Government too.

Here's an email from one reader, and I've also heard of packages simply disappearing from the 1300 block of Spring Rd NW.
I'd like to flag that there are package thieves making the rounds on the 1400 block of Oak St. NW. Our guess is that they are trailing the UPS trucks, as they seem to have stolen packages from multiple addresses, torn apart the boxes, stolen the items inside, and then discarded the boxes in a heap on the street. Please remind people to be vigilant, especially as package volume picks up during the holidays. We've also alerted the police.
One option, if you can, would be the get the packages sent to your work or to a place like FedEx Office (RIP Kinkos.) Or does anyone else have any suggestions? 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Public meeting tonight on transportation plans for the next 6 years: have your voice heard

Do you have something to say about transportation plans for the city? Tonight at the Petworth Library at 4200 Kansas Ave NW (at Upshur and Georgia) there's a meeting to collect public feedback on transportation projects for the next 6 years. Here's the details.

I definitely would like to talk about congestion on 14th Street and buses that stop every block. Any other ideas?

DDOT to Hold Public Meetings for Statewide Transportation Improvement Program


The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will hold two public meetings to present for public feedback the transportation projects included in the Fiscal Years 2015 to 2021 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). The public is invited to participate in one of the following meetings:

When: December 2, 2014 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Where: Petworth Neighborhood Library
4200 Kansas Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20011

When: December 3, 2014 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Where: Department of Employment Services
4058 Minnesota Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20019

The STIP is a statewide prioritized funding program of transportation projects covering a six-year period that is consistent with the long-range statewide transportation plan, also known as moveDC. The STIP includes those projects with federal funding and/or regional significance, but it does not include individual projects with 100% local funding to address local transportation needs (these are included in the District's Capital Budget process). At the meetings, DDOT will present the Draft FY 2015 to 2021 STIP Project List, which includes information on the type of project, project funding, and the estimated project schedule. In addition, DDOT will provide an overview of the STIP and how it was developed. The Draft FY 2015 to 2021 Project List is located here on DDOT's website.

Mt. Pleasant Library book, CD and DVD sale this Saturday & Sunday

If you're looking for some books, or just want to help out the Mt. Pleasant Public Library, here's a great opportunity -- the library is doing their annual sale of books, DVDs and CDs. Here's more info:
Just in time for the holidays, the Mount Pleasant Library is having a book sale this weekend. Saturday December 6 10:00 am – 5:00 pm and Sunday, December 7 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm stop in and find your favorite hardcovers, paperbacks, children’s books, DVDs, CDs and more for reasonable prices. Don’t miss out! Come early for the best selection. 
Mount Pleasant Library is located at 3160 16th Street, NW (at Lamont Street, near Columbia Heights Metro, and 42, H2, H4 and the green Circulator bus). Proceeds go to Mount Pleasant Library Friends group, which supports library programming and events. For more information visit
If you haven't been, the library had a swanky new renovation and looks great.

Photo by digitallydc

Monday, December 1, 2014

Poll: readers think Buffalo Wild Wings will be the next crappy chain to open then close in Columbia Heights

Last week, after the news that Ruby Tuesday was closing and TGI Friday's might leave before they opened, we posted a poll (mostly) for fun: which crappy chain restaurant will be the next to come to Columbia Heights then close? And most readers seem to think it will be Buffalo Wild Wings, followed by the Cheesecake Factory, then Applebee's, Chili's, and Shenanigans from Office Space. There were 72 respondents and 32% said BWW.

It's kind of funny to think about, but then again, one of those chains, or another similar one, could one day be a reality. Big retailers seem to like the area around DCUSA, probably due to lots of other retail activity and foot traffic. That said, Ruby Tuesday didn't do very well, but it was also kind of far from everything else. The IHOP and Panera are crowded frequently and the Chipotle always has a line back to the door. (I've heard a rumor that it's the busiest Chipotle in the world, but I haven't been able to verify that.)

I actually stopped into a Buffalo Wild Wings the other day to watch GW basketball lose a tough one to Seton Hall, and it was... an experience. The place was packed with people and TVs, and was pretty noisy -- like Lou's City Bar on steroids. I didn't have any food, though.

So thanks for taking the time to vote! I'll let you know what I hear about those two retail spaces.

New custom menswear shop at 14th and Florida, Knotstandard now open

It looks like some of the empty retail spots in the residential buildings around 14th and Florida are filling in: Knotstandard, a custom menswear shop, is now open in the Solea condo building on the northwest corner.

Despite looking and sounding pretty fancy, it doesn't seem to be crazy expensive: the website lists shirts for $59, suits for $346 and such -- not cheap, but not as expensive as I'd expect a custom clothing store. The store has 6 locations including DC, which it calls "showrooms," including one in Dubai.

Nice to see more small retail coming in. It seems like there's a little men's clothing cluster around that corner, with Federal, Palace 5ive and now Knotstandard all right there. I'll have to stop in next time I'm looking for a shirt for work. (Forgive my cameraphone pics from a moving vehicle.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Black Friday at DCUSA is almost here: beware (unless you love it)

Being one of the main shopping areas around, DCUSA is often bonkers on the day after Thanksgiving. Unless you enjoy waiting in lines or are bargain crazy, I would suggest you stay far, far away.

It's frequently been bonkers -- huge lines around the building starting going from Irving to Park, people getting in line days before and camping out, and so on. A few years ago the Washington Times wrote about some folks who actually ate Thanksgiving dinner in line -- to me, that's too much.

In previous years they would (smartly) only allow so many people into the building at once, so there wasn't a huge rampage in the doors. There have been musicians and entertainers sometimes as well.

Here's a few other photos and tweets from years past, some from the day before (Thanksgiving Day.) At the very bottom is a good video from the Times as well.

Are you heading to DCUSA this Black Friday, or staying the hell away? If you do, dress warmly!

Wonderland Circus today at Wonderland: music, comedy, burlesque, more

If you're in town this holiday weekend, check out Wonderland tonight for an event. Sounds fun.
A reminder that The Capital City Showcase returns to The Wonderland Ballroom with their latest installment of The Wonderland Circus this Wednesday, November 26th at 8:30pm!

The Wonderland Circus is the variety show where anything goes! See a wide variety of performers do their stuff. Much like any circus, expect thrills, chills, and amazement! The show is Free Admission, though donations will be collected for the artists.

The November Circus will feature (in alphabetical order):

comedian Andrew Bucket
musician Harris Face
comedian Natalie McGill
burlesque artist Hell O'Kitty
comedian Pat Riley

Doors open at 8:00pm, show starts at 8:30pm. Seating is on a first come, first serve basis. Full bar service is also available!

For more info, call 202-431-4704.

Step Right Up!

What: The Capital City Showcase presents The Wonderland Circus
When: Wed Nov 26th @8:30 pm
Where: The Wonderland Ballroom - 1101 Kenyon Street NW, Washington DC 20010
Tickets: FREE ($5 suggested donation)
Info: Call 202-431-4704

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What crappy chain restaurant will open and close next in Columbia Heights?

With the recent news about Ruby Tuesday closing and TGI Friday's possibly never opening, I got to joking around with some friends: it seems like lots of lame chains come and go in our area.

Aside from those two, Richmond supermarket chain Ellwood Thompson's flirted with coming to DCUSA for years, saying they were ever so close to opening many times, then changed their mind and opened in Rockville (of all places.) Lime Fresh Mexican, another chain restaurant, opened and closed in DCUSA, as did Tasti D-Lite, the frozen custard place, and Rita's Water Ice on the Civic Plaza.

So, since it's almost the holiday, I figured it was time for a joke poll: what crappy chain will open and close next in Columbia Heights? (That said, I really liked Lime Fresh and was sad to see them go.)

If you have other ideas, leave them in the comments!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Marion Barry mural goes up at 14th and Randolph

New Marion Barry mural, 14th and Randolph

There's some updated public art in the neighborhood -- soon after his death, Marion Barry was added to the mural at 14th and Randolph on the Washington Pizza and Rib Pit buildings. The mural, titled "Black Rock Star Super Hero," was originally painted by Pahel Brunis for the release of local musician Head-Roc's album of the same name.

It's a modified version of the Washington Pizza mural by Decoy, which featured a person eating pizza, three houses, and a family.

Marion Barry went on top of the houses, some graffiti text reading Head Roc covers the family, and a likeness of Head-Roc, who organized the project, covered up the cool pizza-eating person.

Mercifully, they also covered up the scrawled "Washington Pizza parking only!" text that the owner of Washington Pizza added, and which looked bizarre (and like crap.) 

Here's a few photos I snapped last night, and compare them to the original mural.

New Marion Barry mural, 14th and Randolph

    (the original mural)

New Marion Barry mural, 14th and Randolph

New Marion Barry mural, 14th and Randolph

Ruby Tuesday is permanently closed, is TGI Friday's next?

Looks like some of the chain restaurants in our area are no more. PoP reports that Ruby Tuesday at 14th and Monroe is permanently closed, and when I stopped by last night I saw the sign stating just that. The entire place is empty as well.

Apparently this is part of their plan to close 30 stores around the country that aren't doing well, and this one didn't seem to be -- whenever I walked by, it was nearly empty.

A friend raved about their deals, but that same friend hadn't been in quite some time, and the crowds seemed to have declined signifcantly from when they first opened. It also was also located a little outside the most populous area of the neighborhood -- you wouldn't stumble upon it unless you were looking for it, unlike say Starbucks or IHOP.

At the same time, PoP posted a rumor that TGI Friday's was no longer coming to the corner opposite Ruby Tuesday. Rather than running with a rumor, I reached out to Kent Boese, the chair of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission, who said he thought it was on hold:

"It's my understanding that Fridays is in the midst of some type of corporate restructuring. I'm not sure of all the details and haven't found anyone who can answer my questions. So, I think it safe to say that yes, TGI Friday's is 'on hold.'"

In addition, there is still a for rent sign on the space.

If you remember, the restaurant chain was arguing with residents of the Samuel Kelsey building where the store was to be located, which is a home for the elderly. Those residents were concnered about noise and foot traffic, while others nearby were concerned about garbage. Some of those concerns seemed a little far fetched to me -- this is TGI Friday's, not a bumping nightclub, after all -- but at the same time I can see why living above a restuarant might not be ideal for senior citizens. 

The restaurant reached an agreement with the ANC, but maybe that argument casued TGI Friday's to put the brakes on their plans, or maybe seeing the lack of success of Ruby Tuesday had something to do with it. And that would be fine with me, I thought it was a pretty lame addition to the neighborhood. Maybe people actually do prefer local restaurants like the Heights and Acre 121 to chains?

I've reached out to TGI Fridays, will let you know if I hear back.

But in any case, goodbye, Ruby Tuesday.

Monday, November 24, 2014

What to do on an unseasonably warm day like today?

It's an unusually warm day today, the high getting up to 70. So what's there to do in the area to take advantage, especially since it might be the last warm one in a long time?

For one, there's all the patios and outdoor spots along 11th Street, like Wonderland, Room 11, Red Rocks and the like. They might be crowded, but some let you feel like you're outside while inside, like El Chucho and Meridian Pint with their big windows? There's also more relaxed patios like Looking Glass, DC Reynolds and Mothership on Georgia Ave.

If you're looking for something that isn't eating and drinking, why not take a walk -- maybe to check out all the murals in the neighborhood? Or just go to a part of the area you don't frequent. I'm always surprised when I stumble on a nice little street I haven't seen before, like Keefer Place near Georgia or the little warren of streets around Meridian Hill Park.

Which suggests another: go to the park! Bring a picnic or bocce or a frisbee. It might be the last time you can do any of them for months. 

If you're looking for something a bit more rugged, the hiking trails at Rock Creek Park are great -- keep in mind it gets dark early though. Or just explore the neighborhood on bike -- yours or Capital Bikeshare.

Unfortunately there isn't a ton of neighborhood retail around, but a walk to the U Street shops could be a nice one too -- there are some vintage shops between 14th and 16th that I like. Or check out the  14th Street strip from Florida to U: there's furniture at Mara, clothing at Federal and Palace 5ive, and more. 

If you haven't been to Upshur Street, check it out: there's the new Upshur Street Books, plus a couple cool and funky vintage shops there too, and the popular Domku, Crane & Turtle and Petworth Citizen.

Got any other ideas? 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Mapping out the murals of Columbia Heights

Bloombars mural

A couple of days ago I wrote about the awesome tin-can telephone mural that went up a few months ago on 13th Street, one of a number of murals in our area.

While researching that mural, I found a great blog post from Curbed DC mapping out 11 other murals in Columbia Heights. Most of them I'm familiar with (like the mural on BloomBars above), but a few I'm not, like Chuck Brown and MCA from the Beastie Boys, both of whom died in the past year, in an alley off Sherman and Columbia -- I'll have to check that one out.

What do you think, are they missing any? The list doesn't include the weird and great Washington Pizza mural at 14th and Randolph by the artist Decoy, but that's a little north. I'm a particular fan of this one at 13th and Park, also by Decoy. Can't beat dad humor.

Spotted: punk lyrics carved into the sidewalk, RIP warm weather

It's super cold out there. So it's kind of funny that I stumbled upon this carved into the sidewalk a bit ago near 13th and Spring: it reads "We've been livin' a thrill in the blink of an eye, but baby, we too are running out of time /  End of summer 2010" with some hearts and a cassette tape. And it's true, we're out of time, warm weather is long gone.

I wasn't familiar with the words, but it sounded like lyrics, and sure enough they're from the song "Running Out of Time" by Dead Moon, a punk band active from the 80s to 2000s. It's not bad: kind of a Cramps meets the Replacements vibe for me.

I always like seeing funny stuff carved into the sidewalk -- I wonder if these folks were also behind the waffle-eating dinosaur I spotted a few years ago.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

First taste at Thip Khao, Laotian restaurant coming in Dec. to 14th Street

A few weeks ago I wrote about Thip Khao, the Laotian restaurant coming to 14th and Parkwood, where Thai Tanic II used to be. The restaurant's chef is Seng Luangrath, who also runs the popular Bangkok Golden Thai and Laotian restaurant in Seven Corners. Thip Khao has had a few soft openings lately and I got a chance to go try the food before their official opening sometime in December.

The food was completely new to me, spicy and tasty, though a little confusing: I hadn't tried Laotian food before and the menu didn't explain many items, and our waiter wasn't too good at it either. Then again, it was a soft opening, and the whole idea of that is to work out some of the kinks.

We started out with sai oua, Laotian sausages. I didn't know there were Laotian sausages, and being a fan of encased meats, I figured we had to get it -- and it was great, herby and a little spicy with lemongrass and ginger and a spicy sauce. They came with a couple of hardboiled eggs too with that same spicy sauce -- the sweetness of the eggs was a nice compliment.

For our main dishes, we got beef laab, a traditional Laotian minced meat salad with mint, fish sauce, lemon and more, and chicken orm, a curry stew. Other dishes included grilled or steamed fish wrapped in banana leaves, grilled pork shoulder, and more. Many come with multiple meat, tofu or veggie options. (You can see the whole menus below.)

This is where we ran into the first confusing part of the menu: some of the items had an option to "go to the jungle" for an extra few dollars. We asked what that meant and didn't really get an answer from the waiter, who did not speak great English; I figured it meant spicy. So I'm not sure if our dishes actually were "go to the jungle" or not. The laab was interesting, it was minced meat with veggies, and was very aromatic and quite spicy. We also were given a plain salad, but no dressing. I asked what it was and the waiter, who did not speak great English, said it was supposed to go with the other dishes. We weren't sure what to make of that -- alongside? Mixed in? We mostly left the salad alone. 

I preferred the orm, which was a curry dish with lots of dill and other veggies. It had a building spiciness but a great flavor (I really like dill.) 

Each dish also came with little woven rice baskets with sticky rice -- the titular Thip Khao are those baskets. They were full of sticky rice, which again we weren't exactly sure what to do with. The waiter made a motion like you use the rice to pick up the rest of the food, but it was sort of tricky to do that, so mostly we just ate some on their own. It was welcome through to cut some of the spiciness of the rest of the dishes. 

They also brought over an avocado rice desert, which was delicious, more like a sweet custard, and also helped our mouths return to normal.

They're in the process of getting their liquor license, so we tried some non-alcoholic drinks. The iced longan juice, a type of fruit, was pretty good, but the sour ice tea was great -- sweet and sour and very refreshing. I'm looking forward to having a Beer Lao or cocktail there in the future, too.

In short, it's an interesting restaurant and I definitely want to trying some of the other dishes like the fish or the crispy rice salad, which the City Paper and others recommended from Bangkok Golden. I hope they do a bit more to explain the dishes on the menu or have the waiters explain them as well, as it's a new cuisine with a lot of new items, but in all, I'm excited for it.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Awesome new mural on 13th Street: Tin-Can Telephone

Awesome mural on 13th #mural #columbiaheights

The other day I was walking up 13th Street near Otis and spotted this great mural of two kids talking on a tin-can phone. PoP has some more background: the building, which is a small condo, reached out to DC Murals, a group that finds artists to put up murals. And this is the awesome result.

The artist is James Bullough, who is from DC but now lives in Berlin. It's almost photorealistic, aside from the white and turquoise slashes.

I really like it, it's probably my favorite mural around the area. It makes me want a mural, if I ever had a wall for it.

Here's a few other shots from Bullough's site.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Bake sale hosted by local middle schoolers for So Others May Eat at Annie's Ace Hardaware this weekend

Well, this is adorable. This Saturday and Sunday, middle schoolers from the Washington Latin Public Charter School are holding a bake sale at Annie's Ace Hardware (1240 Upshur Street NW) to benefit SOME (So Others May Eat), which works with DC area homeless and poor people.

Proceeds from the sale will go towards compiling boxes full of toiletries, hats, gloves and other necessities for those in need this winter. The kids will be out from 2-5 pm both days serving up hot cider and chocolate, and fresh-baked cookies.

Sounds like a fun thing. It's great to see kids getting involved and doing something good for the community.

Fundraiser, documentary film screening for local boxing gym and mentoring program for youth next week at GALA Theatre

Here's an interesting event, a file screening and fundraiser for Lime Lote Boxing and Fitness, a nonprofit gym that teaches young people boxing and fitness skills and provides mentoring. It sounds like a worthwhile project with two interesting films! Read more below, and check out the two trailers at the bottom.
On Thursday November 20, at 7:30 at Gala Theater (3333 14th St NW), join local filmmakers, boxing stars and musicians for a benefit film screening and after party featuring stories from the world of Lime Lite Boxing and Fitness, a Columbia Heights based non-profit gym and youth program that trains champions and mentors young people.

Into the Lime Lite follows two-time USA Boxing National Champion Malik Jackson as he prepares for a tough match in the Belfast Beltway Classic. Out of the Basement follows Greg Newby as he embarks on a pro-boxing career after a fall from grace. Jackson and Newby train at Lime Lite Boxing and Fitness, a small gym in the heart of Columbia Heights DC that is 100% fueled by local volunteers, grassroots fundraisers and community support. Both films (documentary shorts) feature music from local musicians including Brendan Canty (Fugazi, DeathFix) The Evens and Buildings. The films were made by possible by the Documentary Center at GW and The DC Arts and Humanities Commission.

The after party features food generously donated by The Coupe (Lime Lite Boxing's neighbor) and music from local DJs. Doors at 7:30. Tickets are $10 and all proceeds will benefit Lime LIte's boxing and mentoring program.

Buy tickets or make a donation.
Facebook invite
Watch an Out of the Basement trailer
Watch an Into the Lime Lite Trailer
City Paper Article about Out of the Basement
A folder of photos

50 sec spot Into the Lime Lite from Natalie Avery on Vimeo.

OUT OF THE BASEMENT - 1 Minute Trailer from Natalie Avery on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Biscuit Lab, popup biscuit shop in Lyman's Tavern on Sundays, is pretty awesome

UPDATE: I just heard from them that they'll be at Lyman's for the next two weeks, then taking a break and possibly coming back afterwards. Read on!

If you like biscuits, get yourself to Lyman's on Sundays for Biscuit Lab, a popup biscuit shop.

The past few Sundays at the bar at 14th and Quincy has hosted the popup, and from 11am-3pm, they serve biscuits and gravy, biscuit sandwiches, drop biscuits and grits "brulee," along with Lyman's beer and liquor. And it's pretty great.

A couple of weekends ago I got the sandwich with egg, cheese and sausage for $6.50 ($3 for a biscuit and $1-$1.50 for each item.) The biscuit was tasty and flaky and the rest of the ingredients made for a solid breakfast (in the afternoon) sandwich. I've also heard the "menage a trois" of three small drop biscuits of rotating flavors; when I went they had maple pumpkin, apple cheddar and honey black pepper, all for $4, and last weekend they had other items like a "Gaijin Bao" biscuit, PB&J and Chili Chocolate drop biscuits. The redneck Benedict with biscuit, ham, poached egg and gravy sounds great too.

The shop is continuing at Lyman's for the near future the next two weeks, then taking a break for the holidays, then maybe coming back or going elsewhere, so give it a go. I recommend getting there earlier rather than later: the first time I went around 2:30pm and they were sold out.

Monday, November 10, 2014

What's open Veterans Day: brunch at the Heights, Kangaroo Boxing Club, more

Tomorrow is Veterans Day, honoring those who served in uniform for our country. Being a federal holiday, lots of folks are off work, and some local businesses will be open for those workers. Here's a rundown of what will be open:
  • The Heights will be serving Veterans Day brunch, 11am-4pm
  • Kangaroo Boxing Club is open for brunch from 11am-3pm, with 20% off if you show a military ID.
  • Meridian Pint will be open at 9 am for brunch
  • Red Rocks will be open for brunch
  • The Coupe and Room 11 will be open as usual in the daytime
  • Lyman's and DC Reynolds open at 11am as usual
The other spots I've seen haven't posted whether they're open or not, but if you know of others, post in the comments and I'll update!