Thursday, March 31, 2016

Spring e-cycling coming up: recycle electronics, shred documents, hazardous waste at Fort Totten

The city has released the schedule for the next few dates for what they call "e-cycling" where you can take your old electronics, batteries, personal documents for shredding and household hazardous waste: things like cooking oil, pesticides, cleaning fluids and such.

You have to go to the Fort Totten Trash Transfer Station, they won't pick them up from your house, but it's free! Read on for more info.
DPW Offers Options to Dispose of HHW/E-cycling/Personal Documents for Shredding in April 2016Check www.dpw.dc.gov for 2016 drop-off, document shredding schedules.
(Washington, DC) The DC Department of Public Works announced today the April 2016 schedule for disposing of household hazard waste, e-cycling and personal documents for shredding at the Fort Totten Transfer Station*.
Weekly, Saturday HHW and e-cycling drop-off schedule:  April 2, 9, 16, 23 and 26 between 8 am and 3 pm.
Monthly, weekday HHW and e-cycling drop-off: Thursday, March 31. Every month, weather permitting, DPW will accept HHW and e-cycling the Thursday before the first Saturday between 1 pm and 5 pm. 
Monthly, Saturday personal document shredding is April 2 between 8 am and 3 pm. DPW will accept personal documents for shredding the first Saturday of the month only.
District residents may bring HHW items such as cooking oil, pesticides, pet flea control and cleaning fluids to Fort Totten, along with e-cycling items such as computers, televisions and other unwanted electronic equipment. For a list of all household hazardous waste and e-cyclables accepted by DPW, please click on this link www.dpw.dc.gov, and navigate to Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off. DPW does not accept latex paint, which can be disposed of in the trash. Paint must be dried out by adding an absorbent, such as kitty litter or sawdust, to it before it goes in the trash.
On the first Saturday of the month only, residents may bring no more than five boxes of personal documents to be shredded. No business or commercial material will be accepted. Personal documents to be shredded will be accepted only on the first Saturday (except holidays) because these documents cannot be protected until the shredding contractor arrives on the first Saturday of the month. 
DPW reminds residents that certain batteries (lithium-based and batteries greater than 9 volts) should be taped before being brought to Fort Totten. Lithium-based batteries are most commonly found in cell phones, digital cameras and laptops. Also, hearing aids, watches and keyless remotes typically use button cells that contain lithium. To safely dispose of batteries with lithium or batteries of greater than 9 volts, put clear, masking or electrical tape on the batteries' terminals. Flat button batteries can be sandwiched between two layers of tape. Examples are pictured at http://dpw.dc.gov/node/414902. Place these batteries in a separate container from other batteries that don't require being taped, e.g., A, AAA, C, D, 6-volt and 9-volt batteries. 
Under the residential use requirements for Ft. Totten, vehicles with commercial license tags will not be allowed access. Additionally, tag-a-long trailers; stake-body trucks; trucks or rental vehicles longer than 14 feet; and vehicles with side boards, and/or ladders/ladder racks will not be allowed access. 
*Directions to Fort Totten, 4900 John F. McCormack Drive, NE: Travel east on Irving Street, NW, turn left on Michigan Avenue, turn left on John F. McCormack Drive, NE and continue to the end of the street. Directions from additional locations can be found at http://dpw.dc.gov/node/414922.
The Department of Public Works (DPW) provides essential city services in two distinct program areas: environmental services/solid waste management and parking enforcement. Both contribute to making our District streets and public spaces clean, safe, attractive and accessible for all residents, businesses, commuters and visitors.

City's Department of Environment looking for citizen scientists: help map local wildlife!


This sounds like a fun way to get into nature and do some fun volunteering: the city's Department of Energy & Environment is looking for volunteer "citizen scientists" to help map our rabbits and chipmunks in the city. You'll be outdoors, maybe exploring some parks or forests near you, and helping our local wildlife!

Here's more info from the city:
Cottontails and Chipmunks! Oh my! We need your help! The Department of Energy & Environment, Fisheries and Wildlife Division is monitoring the population of eastern cottontail rabbits and eastern chipmunks in the District. You can become a Citizen Scientist by recording your rabbit and chipmunk sightings and sharing them with our biologists. Your efforts will play a vital role in helping protect and conserve rabbits and chipmunks in the city. For more information on the program and how to become a volunteer, please contact Lindsay Rohrbaugh at citizen.science@dc.gov.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Obama lunches at Busboys and Poets on 14th


Whoa! A friend just snapped this photo of the President's security detail at Busboy and Poets at 14th and V. I wonder if he'll buy a book too.

The Obamas love our area, including visits to local schools, Ben's Chili Bowl and a lot more.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Community meeting on old Hebrew Home building on Spring Road on Apr. 9: give your ideas


The city has been talking about the redevelopment of the old Washington Hebrew Home building at 1125 Spring Rd NW for some time -- there were some meetings over the last few years.

Now the process is moving, and the city is hosting a meeting on the building on Saturday, Apr. 9. The meeting is on the "OurRFP", which is the city's request for proposals. It's at 11am at Raymond Rec Center at 10th and Spring. They're going to present about the site and the neighborhood and are asking for your feedback and ideas. You can RSVP here.

Previously, there have been discussions of making the building low income housing, senior housing, or some combination of various types. Opponents of the redevelopment of the Park Morton subsidized housing have suggested using 1125 Spring instead of the Bruce Monroe Park site, but apparently that's not possible as they are different neighborhoods.

In any case, this meeting sounds like a good one to let the city know what you're thinking for that building. To me, living nearby, senior and lower income housing sounds fine. The building has been empty for maybe a decade at least.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Real estate investor seminar this Saturday from Slate Properties


Columbia Heights is a busy area for real estate, and Slate Properties is hosting a seminar on the basics of real estate investing this Saturday. Here's a bit more from Slate's Alex Khachaturian:
The thinking behind this is that there a a lot of seminars out there that cover home buying (esp. for fist timers) but nothing geared towards people interested in learning the basics of real estate investing (i.e. buy and hold and being a landlord, earning rental income, etc.).
Sounds pretty interesting, here's more details. There is no cost and there will be coffee and bagels too. Here's the Eventbrite invitation, or you can email or call.
When:
Saturday April 2 at 11:00 a.m.

Where:
Slate Properties
1810 Florida Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20009

Join us for a seminar on the basics of buy & hold real estate investing at Slate Properties – a full-service real estate brokerage, investment, property management, and development firm based in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC. The seminar will aim to take the uncertainty out of one of the simplest and most stable forms of investment, covering the local real estate market. Highlights include:

Comparison of real estate to other investments
Fundamental real estate investment terms and calculations
Financial benefits to holding real estate investments
Investor “action plans”

Q&A session to follow.

** Refreshments will be provided **

** Please RSVP today to reserve your space by emailing alex@slatepropertiesdc.com or calling 646.295.5179 **

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Survey results released on Bruce Monroe Park redevelopment; you can submit comments via email



If you couldn't attend the meeting on Monday about Bruce Monroe Park, which the city plans to partially turn into mixed income housing, you can still be involved. Lee Goldstein, who works for the city's Office of the DeputyMayor for Planning and Economic Development, is the person to contact -- he's lee.goldstein(at)dc.gov.

In addition, the ANC has released results of a survey of residents asking about what they would like to see at the site: most people supported a park or park mixed with another public use like a school, library or rec center. A plurality (but not majority) of people did not support commercial or residential development combined with a park, which is the current plan.

The plan involves taking at least half of the park and turning it into mixed-income housing which will replace the troubled Park Morton housing nearby. Some people argue that Park Morton needs to close (it's had a lot of problems) and the residents must receive housing, and this represents a good location for it, while others say they should be housed elsewhere.

Park View DC has a brief rundown of Monday's meeting. A planner said the development, which includes townhouses and buildings, would be 20% market rate and the rest a mix of public and affordable housing, which would come at least partially from Park Morton.

Some people at the meeting suggested that the park shouldn't be "surplussed" -- a legal thing where the city says land has no public use, so they can use it for something else. They argue that it's clearly a popular park so it's not surplus, while others suggested the big old Hebrew Home site on Park Road as a better location for the residents from Park Morton. Others supported the city's plan, arguing that it's a good site and the park was temporary anyway.

That seems to match up with a survey released a few weeks ago about the site: There was a roughly even support or oppose split for having the site partially park and partially commercial or residential -- 47% disliked that while 43% liked it. About 84% of people liked using the whole site for a park (what it is now) and 64% of people opposed using the entire site for commercial or residential development. About 70% of people supported a park mixed with public use like a school, library or rec center.

Also, the survey didn't specifically mention the idea of moving the Park Morton residents to the site, even though that was in the planning phase, which may have led more residents to oppose non-park or public development.

Interestingly, the plurality of people (25%) who responded said they didn't use the park.

The full survey report is here, which also includes quotes from respondents. It's pretty interesting.

Park View DC (which is run by ANC chair Kent Boese) also notes that the survey respondents might or might not match the opinions of the neighborhood as a whole. The respondents were 75% white, 9% Hispanic, and 17% African American while they aimed for a roughly opposite survey, which is based on the 2010 Census: 21% white and 63% African American.

It's a tricky question -- the Park Morton building has major problems and residents need something else, the city is required to provide housing for every unit that is demolished from Park Morton, and this land is available. However, there may be other options, and many people love that park.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Registration now open for Bike to Work Day 2016, which is May 20

Fresh off the news that Columbia Heights is one of the most popular places for bike commuting comes word that Bike to Work Day 2016 is around the corner, and registration, which is free, is now open. 

You can learn more about biking and bike commuting, meet others who commute, and even join a "bike convoy": one of which runs down Rock Creek Park.

There are also bike pit stops around the city with refreshments, free t-shirts, drawings for bikes and gear, and more. Like in previous years, there's a pit stop at the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza (14th/Park/Kenyon) for the afternoon, form 4 to 7 pm.

It's a popular event, and here's more from the Washington Area Bicyclist Association.
Bike to Work Day 2016
Free Annual Event Promotes Healthy, Clean, Low-Cost Alternative to Driving to Work

WHO:
Commuter Connections and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA)

WHAT: 
Bike to Work Day 2016––Join more than 17,000 area commuters for a celebration of bicycling as a fun, healthy and environmentally-friendly way to get to work. A record-breaking number of cyclists are expected to participate again this year, so register now at www.biketoworkmetrodc.org.

WHEN: 
Friday, May 20, starting at various early-morning times depending on pit stop location.  Some locations are afternoon events.  Locate specific start/end times for all pit stops at www.biketoworkmetrodc.org.

WHERE: 
Register for free and visit one of 83 regional pit stops throughout Washington, D.C., and surrounding counties in Maryland and Virginia; enjoy refreshments and be entered in raffles for new bicycles. Cyclists must register for one pit stop but are welcome to visit any of the 83 pit stops along their way to work. Free event t-shirts will be available at pit stops for the first 15,000 registrants who attend. 

Bicycle convoys - led by experienced bicycle commuters - will travel throughout the region. All levels of cyclists are welcome to join the convoys.

WHY: 
Bicycling to work is a healthy and cost-effective alternative to drive-alone commuting.  Join Commuter Connections and WABA on Friday, May 20, for Bike to Work Day 2016. Ride with thousands of cyclists, new and experienced, and enjoy a healthy commute that helps improve traffic congestion and air quality in the Washington metropolitan region. There will be free t-shirts, snacks, beverages and prizes for registrants who attend, while supplies last.

MORE INFORMATION: 
For free registration and event details, visit www.biketoworkmetrodc.org. Follow Commuter Connections on Twitter at @BikeToWorkDay and use #BTWDC and #BTWD2016. 
Commuter Connections is a program of the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Commuter Connections promotes bicycling to work, ridesharing and other alternatives to drive-alone commuting, and provides ridematching for carpools and vanpools and offers the free Guaranteed Ride Home program. Commuter Connections is funded by the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia and U.S. Departments of Transportation. www.mwcog.orgwww.commuterconnections.org.

Community Easter Egg hunt this Saturday plus free food & raffle, volunteers wanted


This sounds like fun: the Columbia Heights Initiative, a great local group that organizes events and community-building activities (like Columbia Heights Day and more), has organized a community Easter party including Easter Egg hunts for kids and food from local restaurants and businesses for this Saturday at the Columbia Heights Rec Center, 1480 Girard Street NW.

There are two separate hunts for little kids and bigger kids, as well as a raffle for everyone. And they need more volunteers!

Here's more from them from their Facebook page:
Join the Columbia Heights Initiative in partnership with Grace Meridian Hill and the Columbia Heights Recreation Center (1480 Girard St NW) for a Neighborhood Easter Party on Saturday, March 26th from 11am to 3pm. This beloved event has been hosted by Grace Meridian Hill Church for the past five years and we are excited to join forces this year! We have over 3,000 Easter eggs and will host two Easter egg hunts, one for tiny tykes ages 0-7yrs and one for the big kids ages 8-14yrs. 
The day will be full of fun activities for everyone, music, local partners, and of course, two fabulous Easter egg hunts and a raffle for the big BIG kids! Don’t forget to bring your appetite because many of our Annual Partners and local restaurants will be donating food to share in the fun. Be on the lookout for some fun updates coming in the next few days 
Also, if you are interested in volunteering at the event please follow the link to sign up! http://goo.gl/forms/gnFwTHPhAC 
Thanks to all of our Early Adopter Annual Partners who have already pledged their support of our work this year. It is because of them that we are able to host these great events! 
The Wonderland Ballroom Highland Park The Table Church The District Church Solimar International The Coupe The Heights Grace Meridian Hill The Airedale Lou's City Bar Acre 121 Harriet Tubman Elementary National Symphony Orchestra Giant Food Bloombars Meridian Pint North Columbia Heights Civic Association

Monday, March 21, 2016

Public meeting tonight on Bruce Monroe Park redevelopment plans

Today there's a public meeting about the plans for Bruce Monroe Park -- the park at Georgia and Irving which was formerly a school, then demolished and replaced with a temporary park which has been there a few years. The city hadn't said what they planned to replace it with, and now the plan they've come out with is to replace some of the park with a mixed-income housing complex that will replace the troubled Park Morton housing complex a few blocks away. (The Post has a good rundown.)

Park Morton desperately needs to be replaced, it's falling down and has a lot of crime, but some neighbors are complaining about the plan destroying the park, which is quite nice.

There's a meeting tonight at Park View Elementary School at 3560 Warder Street NW, a few blocks off Georgia. Here's more from the Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force:

Bruce Monroe Park Surplus Meeting Tonite – Please attend!
The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development has scheduled a public meeting on the proposed surplus of the Bruce Monroe Park on Monday March 21st from 6:30 – 8:30 at the Bruce Monroe Elementary @ Park View school 3560 Warder Street, NW, 20010.  See more at: http://dcnewcommunities.org/post_type=events&p=1332#sthash.sxfdtfbs.dpuf  This is a meeting held in accordance with the DC law prior to surplusing and disposing of public land to gather public opinion on the matter.  Your voice is important.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Jimmy John's sandwiches coming to the Civic Plaza


More fast food is coming the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza, the triangle bounded by Park Road and Kenyon Street at 14th Street: Borderstan reports that Jimmy John's will be opening in the old Julia's Empanadas space, next to FroZenYo.

The space has been empty for some time, so it's good something is going in. What do people think of Jimmy John's? I've had them a few times downtown, they're ok. I'd prefer another sandwich place like White Apron or something, but hey, this is better than a bank, cell phone store or mattress place.

They're aiming at a spring opening. I hope this place and the new &pizza reduce some of the crowding at other places nearby like Chick-fil-A, Cava and Chipotle.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

New Tokyo/Shanghai/Ohio hot dog popup at EatsPlace: Haiyo Dog

EatsPlace, the restaurant incubator on Georgia Avenue, has a new pop-up: Haiyo Dog, a Japanese/Chinese hot dog spot. It sounds pretty awesome, there's a lot of options plus deals, like $12 for a shot, beer and hot dog. They also have soups, pierogis and more. Here's more from chef and founder Katy Chang:
It's housemade milk bread buns with local dogs (including veggie dogs) and Asian-inspired toppings. The name comes from a mash up of some of the places I’m inspired by (Shanghai + Tokyo + Ohio). When I was a very young child and heard people say good morning in Japanese, I always thought they were saying "Ohio" and marveled at how the small the world was. I took the coincidence as a sign to start Haiyo Dog.
Here's the full menu. I'm definitely swinging by.

HAIYO DOG at EatsPlace 3607 Georgia Ave NW Washington DC 20010 Petworth Metro
202-882-EATS (3287)   www.eatsplace.com   walk-ins welcome   catering available

SOUP
carrot miso ginger soup (choice of hot or cold)  5  |  cincinattish soup (meat chili w/ cheddar cheese)  6  |  veggie chili  6

DOGS
Choice of local, amish beef or chicken dog. Or organic veggie dog. Milk bread bun.
                  
#1 avocado and spicy mayo dog  6
#2 pulled pork dog  6
#3 edamame and takoyaki dog  6
#4 seaweed salad dog  6
#5 edamame and avocado dog  6                                   
#6 kimchi and edamame dog  6                
#7 cincin chili dog w/ cheddar cheese  6
#8 shanghai boy  8
#9 dan dan noodle dog  8
# make it a zucchidog (gluten-free; no milk bread bun) +2                                             

PIEROGI                             
tamaributter  4  |  tamaributter and meat chili  5  |  tamaributter and veggie chili  5                              

ROTATO (spiral fries)
tamaributter  4  |  tamaributter and meat chili  5  |  tamaributter and veggie chili  5  

SIDES
kimchi  3  |  seaweed salad  3  |  dan dan noodles  3  |  edamame  3  |  tamari butter 50¢  |  spicy mayo  50¢

DESSERTS

chocolate bread pudding  5  |  sesame buckeye treats  4

Metrorail will shut down all day: some alternatives


As you have probably heard, Metro is shutting down until 5am Thursday for inspections. Thankfully our area has a fair amount of buses, but they're sure to be mobbed -- they're planning to run on regular service, with additional service to the Pentagon.

WMATA has the full rundown of transit options, but doesn't mention a few others I'd suggest (but you'd better be quick): Capital Bikeshare and Car2Go. Or your own bike -- Target has some inexpensive models for adults and kids.

It's probably going to be a mess out there, so walking might be a good option too -- it might take a bit longer but promises to be lower stress and you'll get a bit of exercise. Or try to camp out at one of our local coffee shops -- I like working at Tynan, Qualia and the Coupe, although they can all be crowded even on regular days.

Here's WMATA's full release. Good luck.

All Metrorail service will be suspended Wednesday, March 16, for emergency inspections 
Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld, with support from the Authority's Board of Directors, today announced the full closure of the Metrorail system on Wednesday, March 16, for emergency inspections of the system's third-rail power cables following an early morning tunnel fire yesterday.
The inspections of approximately 600 "jumper cables" will occur along all tunnel segments on the Metrorail system. At the conclusion of the inspection process, there may be a need for additional rail service outages. Any further service impacts will be announced to the public as soon as they are known.
"While the risk to the public is very low, I cannot rule out a potential life safety issue here, and that is why we must take this action immediately," Wiedefeld said. "When I say safety is our highest priority, I mean it. That sometimes means making tough, unpopular decisions, and this is one of those times. I fully recognize the hardship this will cause."
The Metrorail system will close at its normal time tonight (midnight) and remain closed until 5 a.m. Thursday. All six Metrorail lines and all 91 stations will be closed on Wednesday. 
The unprecedented action follows an early morning electrical fire involving a cable in the tunnel outside McPherson Square Station yesterday. There were no injuries; however, service was disrupted along the Blue, Orange and Silver lines throughout the day.
“The investigation into yesterday’s cable fire at McPherson Square is ongoing," Wiedefeld said.  “As a preliminary matter, the conditions appear disturbingly similar to those in the L’Enfant incident of a year ago, and our focus is squarely on mitigating any risk of a fire elsewhere on the system.” 
Metrobus and MetroAccess service will continue to operate on a regular schedule. Limited, supplemental Metrobus service will be provided between Pentagon and Downtown DC (Franklin Square). Parking will be free in all Metro-owned lots and garages for customers who wish to take bus or carpool.
Alternate service options throughout the region will be extremely limited, and severe crowding is expected on buses. Consider the following alternates:
The public is advised to make alternate travel arrangements as early as possible. 
News release issued at 4:35 pm, March 15, 2016.

Bilingual play for kids at Gala ending this week: Titiloco


This sounds like a fun and educational event for kids: Gala Hispanic Theatre at 14th and Park announced that their show for Titiloco, a bilingual clown, is ending this weekend.  Here's more!

Enjoy The World is a Handkerchief with your children! Be part of this magical journey of life-long lessons, laughter, and musical joy. In this bilingual adaptation the clown Titiloco discovers that the world would be a better place when people respect each other, value diversity, and care for the environment. The play runs 50 minutes and is perfect for children ages 5 through 12.

¡Disfruta El mundo es un pañuelo con tus hijos! Sé parte de este mágica aventura llena de lecciones de vida, risas y canciones. En esta obra bilingüe, el payaso Titiloco descubre que el mundo puede ser un mejor lugar cuando la gente se respeta mutuamente, valora la diversidad y cuida el medio ambiente. La pieza dura 50 minutos y es perfecta para niños de 5 a 12 años

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Bikes everywhere: Our area has some of the highest amounts of bike commuters in the city


This is cool: more than 20% of people in parts of Mt. Pleasant of Petworth ride their bikes to work, with big percentages elsewhere in our area.

The data, compiled by DDOT and reported in Greater Greater Washington and the Post, shows big percentages all around Columbia Heights, Petworth, Mt. Pleasant and surrounding areas, up to 15% in southern Columbia Heights and northern Petworth.

It makes sense -- we're uphill from a lot of central areas in the city with lots of bike lanes -- I prefer the 11th Street one to riding down busy 14th, but many people do.

You can dig more into the data at DDOT -- do you ride your bike to work? I've actually found it was a bit scary at first, but you get used to it. Wear a helmet, however!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Rock n Roll Marathon is this weekend: fun to watch, and watch out for road closures


The annual Rock n Roll Marathon comes through our neighborhood again this Saturday. The event, which has rock bands on stages at various spots around the route, is a pretty fun people watching activity -- and it also means there will be some closed streets in the mornings.

In our area, four streets near will be closed:

Columbia Rd NW between Adams Mill and Harvard, Harvard between Columbia and 5th, and 5th and 4th between Harvard and W, and Bryant from 4th to North Capitol, all from 7am to 11:30am.

There will be band stages at 5th and Harvard (right next to McMillan Reservoir) and at North Capitol and Bryant.

In the past, I've found the hill at Harvard from Sherman to Georgia is a good spot: people tend to bunch up there (it's a hill!) and appreciate the encouragement from spectators.

Here's the full list of closures and full course map, which is also below.



Thanks to Park View DC for the heads-up

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

&pizza opens Thursday on the Civic Plaza!


It's almost pizza and beer time on the Civic Plaza: local pizza chain &pizza opens Thursday. They've been in training lately and I heard reports that they were giving away pizza yesterday as a test, but I couldn't confirm.

They're going to have a liquor license for wine and beer, as well as patio seating. However, they tell me that for the time being you can't have the veer or wine outside.

They're taking over the former 826DC space, pictured above -- next to Pollo Campero.

Pizza!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Brief, interesting documentary about local restaurants: the Great American Cooking Story in Petworth and Park View


Here's a fascinating, short documentary about cooking in cities around the US, focusing on how restaurants fit into their communities. The series, called The Great American Cooking Story, is a six-part series by documentarian Clara Ritger, who lives in the DC area. (And was actually filmed during a cross-country train trip!)

Along with other cities, she did one episode on DC, specifically on DC Reynolds and Petworth Citizen in our area. It's an interesting look at how restaurants can be good neighbors, and is pretty inspiring. It really makes you like these places more! (And I can personally attest that these two are good neighbors: for example, I saw DC Reynolds owner Jeremy Gifford using a snow blower to clear numerous blocks of Georgia Avenue sidewalks during the blizzard, and Paul Ruppert of Room 11, Petworth Citizen and more has been great for the neighborhood too.)

I also had an opportunity to talk to Ritger about the series. Read on!

What brought about the idea for the series?  How did you choose cities and restaurants?

The Washington, D.C. episode of The Great American Cooking Story is the sixth episode in the series. Also available at youtube.com/clararitger are the other 5 episodes from the other 5 cities I traveled to: Los Angeles, Austin, San Antonio, New Orleans and Atlanta. Taken as a whole, the series examines the relationships between restaurants and revitalizing neighborhoods, and offers up some ideas for how restaurants can be (and already are) forces for good in their communities. 

I think what really inspired the series was D.C. I live here, and I saw the trend of restaurants being one of the first businesses to move into these types of neighborhoods, and I was curious about how the chefs and restaurant owners felt about the economic change that they were a part of. And I wanted to explore the idea that food is really something that brings people together, and perhaps these chefs can be community leaders bridging the gap between old and new by uniting people over food.

I spent a lot of time doing research to figure out what neighborhoods were most in transition in the six cities across the country. I wanted to make sure I picked the right neighborhood first, and then I found the chefs/restaurant owners from there. I read a lot of local journalism in the cities across the country and looked at Census Bureau data to determine where the most demographic change was happening. And then after I selected the neighborhood, it was pretty easy to find a handful of potential chef/restaurant owner participants. There's always a budding restaurant scene in these neighborhoods. 

Why Petworth and Park View and why those two restaurants in particular?
I did a lot of pre-interviews as well to figure out who to profile for the series. Regarding Paul Ruppert and Jeremy Gifford specifically, I think what drew me to them was their different commitments and interests in their neighborhood, which ended up being a big part of the story I told in the episode. Petworth Citizen and Reading Room isn't Paul's only restaurant in the neighborhood, and he's really thoughtful about the little empire he's growing there. It's not just about money and success for him, and it very well could be. If it was, he probably wouldn't be opening all his restaurants in Petworth. Jeremy's an interesting character too. He's really interested in being the community meeting spot, the place where local politicians can come and talk to people about new neighborhood initiatives. He actually was the one who suggested that Kent Boese, the neighborhood commissioner, be a part of the video

Was the train journey related?

The series was filmed over the course of a 10-day, cross-country train trip in May 2015. The train trip was pre-organized by the Millennial Trains Project, so I already knew what cities I'd stop in. The series was something I'd sort of thought about for awhile, but the train trip gave me an outlet to make it a reality. To get on board the train, I crowdfunded $5,000. The rest of the expenses for the project were out-of-pocket. I work full time at a corporate video production company in the D.C. area, and took vacation time for the train trip, so this was really a passion project for me.

"History sits quietly on a hilltop in Petworth": nice WaPo article on Lincoln's Cottage


The Post has an interesting article about Lincoln's Cottage, the president's former "country" getaway within the bounds of the Old Soldiers' Home. At the time, the area was truly in the country, as the city did not stretch much beyond Florida Avenue (which was then the city boundary, and named Boundary Road.)

Tours, which began in 2008, are $15 and sound pretty fascinating: for example, the Post mentions a possible assassination attempt in 1862 on the way to the house, which is located at 140 Rock Creek Church Rd. NW, a few blocks from the Georgia Ave Metro. (I wonder if the President would have frequented nearby Slash Run or the Hitching Post on Upshur if they were around then?)

There's all kinds of upcoming events too: along with tours, there's a play, a forum about Lincoln's ideas, and something called "Bluegrass and Bourbon" in May, which sounds pretty great. The Soldiers Home (officially the Armed Forces Retirement Home) also has really nice grounds, and is a great spot to watch the 4th of July fireworks.

If you haven't been, check it out. A cool little history gem right in our neighborhood.

Photo by Eric Langhorst

Monday, March 7, 2016

Slim's Diner at Upshur and Georgia aiming at early April opening!


Good news for diner fans! Slim's Diner, the traditional-style diner coming to the corner of Upshur and Georgia is aiming for an early April opening, according to a job posting for general manager.

The spot, from the folks behind Room 11, Upshur Street Books, Petworth Citizen and the sadly closing Crane & Turtle, will be open early and late, like a true diner: from 7am-midnight Sunday through Thursday and 7am-2am Friday and Saturday. Sounds like a good post bar stop.

The job posting also mentions an in-house baker making "pies, cakes, biscuits, brownies, doughnuts and much more." I'm intrigued.

They'll also have a liquor license so you can have things like beer and cocktails with your diner fare.

You can follow their progress on their Facebook page, which has construction photos, architectural details, and more.

Here's their building. I'm excited for early April. 


Friday, March 4, 2016

Game changer: Pho 14 now has liquor license, lots of local beer, daily happy hour deals: $5 pho!


Great news for pho fans: Pho 14 on Park Road now has their liquor license, and they're starting having happy hour deals. They also have 24 beers on tap, of which 20 are local brews, and they're highlighting those local beers during their Monday through Wednesday happy hours.

UPDATE: They have daily deals -- and you're the first to hear them!
Mon - Fri
3-7:30pm 
Monday: $2 off DC Brau beer (locally sourced) 
Tuesday: $2 off 3 Stars beer (locally sourced) 
Wednesday: $2 off Atlas Brew Works and Right Proper beer (locally sourced) 
Thursday: 1/2 price beer + $ 1.49 single serve egg/garden roll all night!

Friday: 4-8 pm $7-6-5 beers (for 16oz, 12oz, 10oz) + $5 IPA + $5 cider + $5 selected pho all night!

Everyday 3-7:30pm $1.49 single serve egg/garden roll
They're also stocking a lot of beers from local breweries, including seven kinds of DC Brau, which sounds great.

I'll be excited to check it out.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Little Coco's, Italian spot from El Chucho folks, now under construction!


 Awesome news for fans of El Chucho or Italian food: Little Coco's at 14th and Randolph is now under construction. They're adding a second story and popped the front out a bit -- looks a lot like its sister restaurant, El Chucho. They're also adding a rear addition, according to their new Facebook page.

I've been excited about this place for a while, but owner Jackie Greenbaum said permit delays with the city had caused their timeline to lengthen -- which of course, is hardly unusual when dealing with city permits.

A few weeks ago, Greenbaum told me the permits were finally done and they were hoping for a few months of construction.

It will have about 70 seats total, including inside and outside. Dishes will include pizza, entrees and homemade pastas with a similar floor plan to El Chucho. The pizzas may include interesting combos like olive-oil poached tuna and artichokes, snails and garlic, and butternut squash with pear and taleggio, a type of Italian cheese.

They'll also have frozen negronis, shaved ice, and affordable Italian beer and wine.

The building is the former Rib Pit Lounge, next door to the Rib Pit, which was replaced by Golden Paradise, a Mexican/Salvadoran/American place.

Here's a few more photos from their Facebook, including a pizza! Looks like potatoes and greens?



(The back addition)

Apartments with ground floor retail coming to 3700 14th Street, site of Carolina Restaurant


Looks like another corner of 14th and Spring Road is getting redeveloped: developers have purchased the old Carolina Restaurant building on the northwest corner of 14th and Spring  after we heard about the new condo and ground floor retail coming to the southeast corner. The idea is two build a five story building with ground floor retail and four levels of apartments.

On the Spring-Perry listserve, ANC commissioner Michael Halpern posted a bit about the plan. The developers are requesting a parking variance from the city: the building would be required to have a certain number of parking spaces but it may not be possible to fit them, thus the variance request. (This is a similar situation to the southeast corner, I'll write more about that later today.)

Here's what Halpern has to say, in response to the question "Is this the Carolina restaurant?"
Yes. They are going through the permitting process for a building with a ground floor retail level and four floors of apartments. Most of what they want to do they can do by matter of right, but they need to request a parking variance from DCRA, which will consider input from the ANC. This gives us an opportunity to give them feedback on other aspects of the development. 
With regard to parking, my understanding is that because the building will have an address on 14th street, occupants will NOT be eligible for a Residential Parking Permit.  
That feedback process an allow residents to ask for concessions, like improvements to the sidewalk or donations to local charities. The idea is that if someone needs a variance, the ANC can ask for something to offset that, or they can oppose it.

The building has been unoccupied for quite some time, at least a year. Nice to see something going there, though I hope the retail is something nice and useful, not a cell phone store or something lame.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Got an issue with sidewalks, trash, graffiti, more? Call 311 or use the city's website


I've long been a proponent of 311, the city's call center where you can report any number of things: trash not picked up, illegal dumping, bad road or sidewalk conditions, and a lot more -- I used it a fair amount to report businesses not shoveling during the blizzard, for instance.

And recently it seems like they've been more responsive: reports on a big pothole on Spring Road and on the damaged park at 14th and Oak have had pretty quick responses.

It's a pretty great system, and you don't have to call: you can also use the city's 311.dc.gov site, as well as phone apps like SeeClickFix, which is what I mostly use and which reports directly into 311.

You really can do anything with 311: request garbage cans, get bulk trash pickup, ask for a dead animal to be picked up, street sign replacement, and much more.

Columbia Heights Farmers Market opens April 16 (plus some new vendors!)


It's spring! Maybe not officially, but according to the farmers market, it is. The weekly market opens Saturday, April 16 and will be open every Saturday after that (the Wednesday markets won't open until June 1.)

The market has produce, meat, cheese, eggs, breads, flowers and plants, plus prepared food, coffee, crafts and also local performers. There are new additions this year too: salmon, veggie burgers, gluten free cookies plus tamales and a Latin bakery.

I often go even if I'm not looking to buy anything, tool around and get a sample or two, maybe a pastry or coffee and enjoy the day.

The market is open 9am-1pm on the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza, the triangle where Park, Kenyon and 14th meet. Here's their Facebook.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Sad news: Crane & Turtle is closing for good April 24


Sad news from Upshur Street: Crane & Turtle, the tasty Japanese restaurant from the Room 11 family of restaurants and shops, will be closing April 24.

According to a press release, the head chef and pastry chef, who are married, are moving to New York and since they were a key part of the restaurant, the owners decided to close. 

The same group, led by Paul Ruppert, own Room 11, Petworth Citizen, Upshur Street Books, and the coming Slim's Diner. Bad Saint is also related as it's co-owned by Nick Pimentel, who is a partner at Room 11.

The Room 11 folks still own the space, so they may do something there in the future.

Here's their press release:
After much careful consideration, Crane & Turtle has decided to close our doors on Sunday, April 24, 2016. 
Husband & wife team, Executive Chef Makoto Hamamura & Pastry Chef Katy Kinch, will be relocating to New York to pursue future career opportunities and to be closer to family. Chef Makoto (whose mother and aunt are named Crane and Turtle, respectively, in Japanese) is so intertwined in the identity and success of the restaurant that no replacement will do. 
We are proud of the work we have done to create a unique dining experience that combined all of our team’s passions: chef-driven inventive cuisine, engaging service, exceptional wines & beverages, thoughtful design, and most importantly, camaraderie & community. 
We feel truly honored to have been a part of special moments in our guests’ lives ranging from engagements to birthdays to a memorable night out with dear friends. We hope that you will look back on an evening spent at Crane & Turtle with same fondness as we all will. 
We would like to especially applaud all of our remarkable staff that has worked so diligently everyday. Crane & Turtle could have never accomplished the high degree of critical acclaim without each and every one of you. 
We cannot thank Petworth enough for welcoming us with open arms and not only being loyal patrons, but becoming our friends. This is an incredible neighborhood with so much heart. We feel very privileged to have called it “home.” 
We are looking forward to the next few weeks of service. We see this time as a period of celebration. We certainly hope that you will be a part of it. 
Thank you all & cheers, The Crane & Turtle Family
Crane & Turtle was a tasty, small spot, which also held interesting events like the Bar Otsukare Japanese whisky pop-ups. They will be missed!

Columbia Heights, Georgia Ave. Metros near the worst in escalator outages


It's a running joke in our neighborhood: the Metro escalators aren't working. It's mostly been anecdotal though, every time you go, they're turned off, broken or closed for repair. People have to carry big suitcases up and down, or just trudge their tired bodies up and down after a long day.

I even created a joke Twitter account about this problem which just tweets various versions of "no" to the question "are the Columbia Heights Metro escalators working?"

But now we know for sure that our escalators are among the worst. The Washingtonian published a chart about the worst performing Metro escalators, and Columbia Heights and Georgia Ave are 4th and 6th worst out of 91 stations, respectively. To no one's surprise. Thanks, Metro.

And that's even before the many months of repairs that are coming up: some escalators at Columbia Heights and Georgia Ave. Metro will be closed for 35 to 45 weeks! That means you can get pregnant now, gestate a human baby to full term, and the escalators will still be under construction. If they actually finish when they say they will.

The data comes from DC Metro Metrics, a site that takes open data from Metro and logs it.