Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Panera on Irving Street is closing for good today at 5pm


A reader just sent me this -- Panera on Irving is closing. I liked it pretty well, but it never seemed too crowded. I'd be interested in seeing what's coming next. There are a lot of changes afoot at DCUSA, I'll write a post about that shortly.

This is directly across the street from the incoming Wawa.

Monday, June 18, 2018

That time Anthony Bourdain visited Ben's Chili Bowl and other spots around our area


Anthony Bourdain, the beloved chef and writer, visited many places around the world through his career with No Reservations, Parts Unknown, A Cook's Tour, The Layover and more -- and in 2009, he came to DC for No Reservations, where among other things he visited Ben's Chili Bowl, the Maine Avenue fish market, and hung out with Jose Andres. He chatted with the owners of Ben's, among others.

As always, he had a thoughtful take on Ben's and the city, and also ate at Vietnamese and Ethiopian restaurants around town. You can watch the episode below, Ben's Chili Bowl is the first segment.

Bourdain also visited DC other times outside of his TV show, helping with fundraisers for DC Central Kitchen and giving a talk at DAR Constitution Hall. He will be missed.



Here's the direct link. Photo by DC Central Kitchen.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Columbia Heights Farmers Market now open Wednesday afternoons and Saturday morning til 1pm

If you like food fresh from the farm, you now have two options for the Columbia Heights Farmers Market: they're open on the Civic Plaza on Wednesdays from 4pm-7pm and Saturdays from 9am-1pm. The Civic Plaza is the triangular plaza where 14th, Kenyon and Park meet.

The market, if you haven't been before, has a wide variety of produce, meat, cheese and dairy, coffee, bread and baked goods, plus some snacks like tacos, popsicles and sandwiches. There's also often music or other entertainment plus arts and crafts vendors too. Worth a stop.

There are also markets in Petworth (9th and Upshur), Mt. Pleasant (Mt. Pleasant & 17th) and 14th and U which are all Saturday from 9am-1pm.

Councilmember Todd proposes Office of Nightlife for nightlife and community relations; he answers some questions about it

This is interesting: last year, Ward 4 councilmember Brandon Todd proposed an Office of Nightlife to help with community and nightlife relations. The Post says Todd described it as "a liaison between government, community leaders and business owners to ensure that all residents benefit from the proliferation of bars, restaurants and entertainment venues in the nation's capitol in recent years."

Other cities have similar programs, sometimes called a Night Mayor or Night Czar.

More recently, the office received some money from the city's budget, and Todd has talking about the idea at events and meetings, so I asked for more information. Here's a few questions the councilmember answered via email. The full bill text is here.

What are your goals for it? It seems focused mostly on residential neighbors’ concerns, is that the case?

The purpose of the Office of Nightlife and Culture is to serve as a liaison between nighttime economy establishments, residents living near such establishments, and the District government. This includes a variety of responsibilities. The office will serve as a point of contact for establishments to help them connect with District government agencies on everything from consumer complaints, to problems with District government agencies, to obtaining licenses, permits, or approvals. It will also serve as the intermediary when any issues arise between the District government, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners, residents, and establishments, such as noise, littler, parking, or public safety. The office will also provide input to other agencies on matters important to the nighttime economy, identify and provide information on best practices in the nighttime economy sector, and work with the Commission on Nightlife and Culture (also created by this legislation). The Office of Nightlife and Culture will focus on building a vibrant nighttime economy for the District of Columbia that operates smoothly in the context of each neighborhood. They will serve as a resource to both the community and small businesses for any and all nightlife-related concerns. They will help bring more jobs to the District, and expand opportunities for residents to engage in fun, safe nighttime activities, which is so much more than just bars and clubs, but also restaurants, art, culture, music, and fashion.

How does it benefit owners of nightlife businesses and people who go to them?

The Office will benefit owners by providing a single point of contact on all matters related to their establishment. The Office will be open during nighttime hours when other Government agencies are not open, and will be able to help with obtaining permits or getting other concerns addressed by DC Government agencies. Patrons will benefit from the office advising establishments on safety and security best practices, including training programs to prevent sexual harassment and assault.

What kind of budget would it have?
I am delighted to report that we have secured $291,000 in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget for the Office of Nightlife and Culture. The funds will be set aside until the establishing legislation is passed into law. These funds provide for three full time staffers, including a Director, Staff Assistant, and Community Liaison, plus $60,000 to stand up the office.

Would it have enforcement abilities or legal authority?

No, this office would not have enforcement authority. Those functions would continue to be the responsibility of the respective agency. For example, the Metropolitan Police Department will still be responsible for addressing public safety concerns, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs will still process building permits, etc… The Office of Nightlife and Culture will just serve as a central liaison between establishments, the community, and the Government.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Cuban restaurant Little Havana at 14th and Spring making progress, from Mezcalero owner


Looks like another spot is soon to open on the 14th Street strip where the Red Derby, Lyman's, Mezcalero and Taqueria Habanero are: Little Havana, a Cuban spot from the owner of Mezcalero and El Sol in Shaw. I walked by the other day and it looks like they are making progress, and Eater has an article taking a peek at the inside and at the menu.

The spot has 70 seats split between a dining room in the front and a bar in the back, which chef Joseph Osorio says is a way to have the spot be family friendly but also fun for the late night crowd. Osorio's grandmother is Cuban and he's previously cooked at a lot of Clyde's Restaurant Group kitchens. The food will be Cuban and Cuban-inspired, like a planned Cuban sandwich spring roll. They're also looking at ways to use frozen pineapples as glasses for cocktails.

To start they'll be open 4pm-11pm with plans to add brunch on weekends and coffee and pastries in the morning, something sorely needed in that area.

Friday, June 8, 2018

4th of July celebration at the Old Soldiers Home: music, food, beer, kids activities, and watch the fireworks!


The annual Fourth of July celebration at the Old Soldiers Home is happening again, and it's a good time. The campus (officially the Armed Forces Retirement Home) is just east of Rock Creek Church Road NW and Park View and a good spot to watch the fireworks on the Mall, as it's on a big hill. It's a beautiful campus too with rolling hills and lots of trees.

This year's fest has a lot going on! The event is put on by the Friends of the Soldiers Home and a number of sponsors.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Local news site DCist relaunches June 11 run by WAMU, launch party on June 14


Not specifically Columbia Heights-related, but good news for anyone interested in local news: DCist, the long-running news site that was shut down last year by its new owner, is back! WAMU, a local NPR station, bought the site and rehired the previous editors and much of the staff.

The site covers local news, music, arts, local politics, transportation and a lot more, including the weekly Overheard in D.C. column. (Yours truly has written Overheard since 2007, which DCist started running in 2006.)

The closing in November came as a shock to everyone, and happened after New York staff voted to unionize (the parent company, Gothamist, owned a number of local news sites.) The billionaire former owner who closed it, Joe Ricketts, is famously anti-union and basically shut down the entire network to spite them.

If you've read DCist before, you're probably pretty happy, and if you haven't, it's definitely worth a look. I basically used to have it open all day to see what's new.

If you want to celebrate with staff and friends of the site, there's also an opening party on June 14. They also have a Kickstarter to help it get going.

Here's more info!

DCist to Relaunch Local News Site on June 11

After purchase by WAMU, DCist will begin publishing new content, celebrated with a launch party and aided by a Kickstarter campaign.

Three months after WAMU announced the acquisition of beloved neighborhood news site DCist, the station reports that the site will resume publishing content on Monday, June 11 at DCist.com. DCist will continue its tradition of reporting on local District news with the same witty, unique voice it has had since its inception.

“WAMU is thrilled to continue to invest in the local community, and we look forward to giving DCist the resources it needs to produce its distinctive, energetic content,” said Andi McDaniel, WAMU’s senior director of content and news. “It will be the same DCist the community knows and loves, now with new ownership and a wealth of resources at its fingertips.”

WAMU and DCist will host a launch party to celebrate DCist’s return, which will feature an interactive art experience, DJs, food trucks, games and more. The party is set for Thursday, June 14 from 6:30-11:00 p.m. at the Blind Whino art space in Southwest D.C. Tickets are on sale at www.wamu.org/events and are $20 each. Attendees must be 21 years old or older.

“We are committed to connecting our vibrant community here in D.C.,” said Rachel Sadon, DCist editor-in-chief. “In a region that often gets overshadowed by national news, DCist will help fill the essential need for local journalism, and we look forward to hearing feedback from readers as to how we can best serve our community.”

Want to get involved? WAMU launched a Kickstarter campaign to help sustain DCist as an online news outlet and to help bring in freelancers and contributors on a regular basis. The goal is to reach $75,000 between May 22 and June 22. To learn more, visit www.wamu.org/kickstarter.
###

About WAMU
WAMU 88.5 is the NPR station in the nation’s capital and Washington’s source for local and national news, podcasts and smart, thoughtful programming. WAMU produces the nationally acclaimed program 1A, the daily local talk show The Kojo Nnamdi Show, the Diane Rehm: On My Mind podcast and award-winning regional news that spans topics from race and power to business and the arts. WAMU is member-supported, professionally staffed and licensed to American University. Founded in 1961, WAMU reaches an audience of nearly one million listeners on-air, online, and on demand. Learn more about WAMU or listen live atwww.wamu.org.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

What's your favorite parents group/website/meetup/event in our area?

I recently got a good question from a reader who's a new mom: are there any good moms or parents groups in our area? Or how about websites or web forums?

I know there's the DC Urban Moms and Dads forum, but I've heard it kind of turns into troll city sometimes, similar to the PoP or WTOP comment sections.

There are also a lot of great events for kids and parents at BloomBars on 11th and Walls of Books of 14th.

Any other recommendations? Post them below!

UPDATE: on our Facebook page, a reader recommended two neighborhood parent listserves: Columbia Heights New Parents and Petworth New Parents

Monday, June 4, 2018

Columbia Heights Day is Saturday, June 16: kids events, music, beer garden and more; vendors and volunteers needed


Columbia Heights Day, the annual street festival on 11th Street, is upon us: it's Saturday, June 16th from 11am-6pm. Running from Park Road to Irving Street, the fest will have artisans and vendors, two stages with music, dance and classes, plus a kids carnival at Tubman School and a beer garden for bigger kids. And this is the 13th year!

Here's the Facebook invite for the event.

If you'd like to be a volunteer, here is the link to sign up: https://goo.gl/forms/FJTDZFMNeL6ztbuw1 -- you'll get a free t-shirt.

And if you'd like to be a vendor, here's that info: https://goo.gl/forms/OuorbhDgQQopUcH92

Here's more from District Bridges, the organizers (they also run the Columbia Heights-Mt. Pleasant Main StreeT)
The best local DC street party is back and you’re invited!! Join us in celebration of our diversity and community, with the neighborhood’s finest food, drink, and entertainment!

Discover artisans, entrepreneurs, and area businesses in the heart of Columbia Heights. There's fun everywhere and for everyone! 2 stages with live music, dance, and free fitness classes. Kids can play at the carnival on the Harriet Tubman field while adults make their own fun at the Meridian Pint beer garden. See you on Saturday, June 16th! 
Where: 11th Street between Park Road and Irving Street.
When: Saturday, June 16th 11am-6pm
Cost: FREE (Donations welcome!)

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Qualia Coffee's lease is ending late 2019, looking for space in the area


Not great news for coffee fans: the lease for Qualia Coffee at 3917 Georgia Avenue NW ends in late 2019, according to PoP. The owner of the building is putting it up for sale, and Qualia's owner Joel Finkelstein owner confirmed the details.

The other day I chatted with staff, who said they were looking for space in the area. One of the issues they cited was that they need more space -- the current spot is a small townhouse that can get crowded in the mornings, and it's a little worse for the wear. Finkelstein said something similar to Petworth News, adding that they hope to often more food options in the new location, and they won't be roasting coffee on premises. They're also looking for a new place to roast. They have a second location in Eckington too, right across from Sirius XM.

I hope they stay nearby, as it's one of the few coffee shops in the area and I've always enjoyed it there. Hopefully the ground floor retail spaces at one of the new condo buildings along Georgia would be a good space for Qualia.

But don't fret, that's still about a year and a half away.




Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Gussini store in DCUSA is closing, everything is 50% off


Gussini, the discount store which replaced Staples at DCUSA last year, is moving out. There are moving sale signs in the window, plus big signs for 50% off.

I was surprised when the store came in, as I'd never heard of it -- it's based in suburban Maryland and has a few stores around the region. I never say too many people in there when I walked by. Any readers ever shop there?

I hope something good comes in there, maybe a restaurant or other good retail shop. Anybody have something they'd really like to see?

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Howard looking to redevelop empty buildings on Georgia: survey on what you'd like to see


Howard University owns a number of empty buildings along Georgia Avenue between V and W Streets and wants your opinion on what should go there.

The area was planned to be redeveloped into the Howard Town Square development, including a grocery store, which was stalled and eventually canceled after a dispute between the university and developers. Recently, the university won their case and can proceed with the project. (Urban Turf has more about the site and dispute.)

And Howard published a survey, closing today, that includes what you'd like to see for the area. The site includes two big existing buildings on the west side of Georgia from V to W Street: that's the former Washington Railway and Electric Company (the brick building above) at the corner of Georgia and V, and the former Bond Bakery building at Georgia and W (the white building below.)

Some ideas include a 24-hour market similar to Union Market or Reading Terminal in Philly, among other things. Check out the survey and let them know!


Friday, May 18, 2018

Taste of Jamaica now open at 3308 Georgia; formerly on H Street NE


If you like Jamaican food, there's a new option on Georgia Avenue for you: Taste of Jamaica. The spot just opened and has a pretty big menu, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. I haven't been to this spot yet but really like Jamaican food.

This spot moved from 528 H Street NE, which people seemed to really love. This new location has really good reviews over at Yelp.

I'm intrigued by the breakfast, they have ackee, which is a fruit but when cooked tastes and has the consistency of scrambled eggs. It's pretty great.

This space has been empty for some time after being a tax office.



Tuesday, May 15, 2018

You can get a Wendy's Frosty for 50 cents right now! There's a location on Georgia Ave


If you're a fan of Wendy's Frosties, get yourself to the location at 3900 Georgia Ave NW, they're selling them for 50 cents for a limited time. I'm not sure for how long, but they have a contest going until May 31, so maybe that's when.

That's the only Wendy's in town that I'm aware of, aside from the one at "Dave Thomas Circle" where First Street, New York and Florida Avenues meet.

The one at 3900 Georgia is open late too, so maybe a good post-bar option.

Spring carnival and fundraiser for Powell Elementary School on Upshur this Saturday


Powell Bilingual Elementary School on Upshur is a school that serves a lot of kids in our area, and they're having a spring carnival and fundraiser this Saturday at the Roosevelt High School football field.

There will be a lot of games and fun for kids, plus grilling, and snacks from Annie's Ace Hardware, performances, sports and more. Here's the details from Powell,which are also on their website.


4th Annual Powell Elementary COMMUNITY Carnival fundraiser

Date: May 19, 2018
Time: 11am - 5pm
Location: Roosevelt High School football field (Upshur St across from Annie’s Ace Hardware)
Rain Location:  Roosevelt High School Gym

Fun Activities to Expect:
  • Dunk Tank
  • Moon Bounce & obstacle course
  • Bungee Hoop Run
  • Bungee human hippo chow down
  • Carnival Games and prizes for kids
  • Free Kid Zone sponsored by Xi Omega
  • Balloon Animals sponsored by Elissa Silverman
  • Face Painting
  • Grilling by Annie’s Ace Hardware, Tons of homemade food, Sno-Cones, Popcorn, Hotdogs and other treats
  • Free DC Scores, Super Soccer Stars & Flagstar Football activities for kids (10:00 – 2:30)
  • Free Live performances:
    • CHEC Drum Line (11:30)
    • Teatro de la Luna – Buddies Not Bullies bilingual performance (12:30 – 1:15)
    • Tamika Love Jones (2:00 – 2:45)
    • Baba Ras D (3:00 – 3:30)
Great raffle prizes: $200 cash; iPad; VIP Sports tickets donated by Brandon Todd’s office; DC United Tickets
Purchase raffle tickets online and learn more about the event @https://www.powellpadres.org/spring-carnival

Friday, May 11, 2018

Get on up: the Funk Parade is this Saturday! Music, events, booths, performers, parade, concerts and more


The Funk Parade, one of our area's most fun events, is this Saturday! The event goes all day with a street festival from 1-7pm, the actual parade from 5-6pm, and a music fest starting at 7pm, plus post-event concerts at the Lincoln and Howard Theatres.

Events and the street festival stretch from 14th and U to 6th and U. The parade route is above.

Previous years have been really fun: people in crazy costumes, music everywhere, tons to do and see, booths and vendors, street performers and a lot more. Highly recommended.

The full music schedule is here with lots of outdoor stages around U Street. There's also a musical showcase at the Lincoln Theatre featuring R&B singer Ari Lennox and other artists, and a "True Funk" party at the Howard Theatre with Parliament-Funkadelic guitarist Michael "Kidd Funkadelic" Hampton and his band, plus a P-Funk tribute.

Here's a video of last year's event to give you some idea.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Construction underway at Jewish bagel shop and deli Call Your Mother and Sonny's Pizza, both on Georgia


If you live around Georgia Avenue, it's time to get excited: I just walked by Sonny's Pizza from the Colony Club folks and Call Your Mother, the Jewish deli from the Timber Pizza crew, and both are coming along.

Both places sound amazing. Call Your Mother, in the previous Alfie's/Tchoup's space, will have bagels that aim to be the city's best, plus coffee, Jewish food, bagel sandwiches (which they already offer at some farmers markets) and sandwiches, and an occasional supper club with various themes, like Salvadoran, fried chicken, etc.

Sonny's Pizza is next door to Colony Club in the MARC Clinic space, they'll have house baked bread, garlic knots, "grandma-style" pizza and pepperoni rolls.

Call Your Mother is aiming for spring and Sonny's I'm not sure about, but I saw a lot of kitchen equipment inside.

I am really excited for both. Photos below of the Sonny's location and Call Your Mother:




Images from Google Street View and HapstakDemetriou+, and Call Your Mother's Instagram.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Local kids to travel to Russia for Street Child World Cup; send-off at Bell School Wednesday at 9am


This is pretty awesome: DC SCORES, the great local literacy and sports nonprofit for kids, is helping send nine young women from our area to Russia as Team USA for the Street Child World Cup. The event happens before the World Cup, and the Team USA kids are all DC SCORES participants.

The Street Child World Cup is soccer tournament, art festival and conference for children at risk of homelessness -- often they grew up in unstable situations. The event aims to focus attention on at-rish children and "change the negative perceptions and treatment of homeless youth everywhere," as they describe it.

The team will be leaving at 9am from the Bell School field, heading to New York, and then to Moscow.

I've written a lot about DC SCORES before, they offer soccer programs and literacy tutoring for local young people. They do a lot of great work, and can always use donations and volunteers.

Washington DC Teens Head to Moscow to Represent the USA
at the Street Child World Cup
       
A group of nine young women from Washington, DC will be the only team representing the USA on soccer’s biggest stage in Russia.  While the US Men’s National Team did not qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Moscow, a group of intrepid teenage athletes are donning the red, white, and blue to compete in the 2018 Street Child World Cup.  What makes their journey especially riveting is that each of these young Washington, DC women have experienced or been at risk of homelessness, and each has overcome significant obstacles to achieve this level of success.  The team departs the US on Wednesday, May 9, 2018, where it will join over 200 young people and compete against teams from around the world.

The Street Child World Cup is a soccer tournament, festival of arts, and conference for children at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness across the world.  On the pitch, over 230 girls and boys will represent 24 national teams in the tournament, while also drawing attention to the plight of homeless youth everywhere. Off the pitch, their voices will be heard, calling for the rights of millions of children at risk worldwide.  Street Child World Cup supporter David Beckham said, “I know from personal experience just what power soccer can have to inspire and change young people’s lives whatever their background or nationality. This is what the Street Child World Cup is all about.”

Becky Sauerbrunn, Olympic gold medalist, and FIFA World Cup winner as a member of the US Women’s National Team, is an ambassador of the American team, and said, “I’m honored to support our girls at the 2018 Street Child World Cup.  They will proudly represent our nation, harnessing their love of soccer to raise awareness and dialogue for US youth at risk of homelessness. Their voices matter. Congratulations to America SCORES and the National Network for Youth for partnering to give these girls the platform they truly deserve.”  Added Darla Bardine, Executive Director of the National Network for Youth, “we are honored to take this team to the Street Child World Cup to give these incredible young women a platform to elevate the urgent and unique needs of young people at risk of and experiencing homelessness here in America. No young person should be homeless and hungry.”


Notably, the entire American team is composed of participants from DC SCORES, which creates neighborhood teams that give in-need Washington DC kids the confidence and skills to succeed on the playing field, in the classroom, and in life.  DC SCORES is the flagship affiliate of America SCORES, which operates programs in 12 cities, serving 15,000 at-risk youth annually. Bethany Rubin Henderson, America SCORES National Network President proclaimed, “I couldn’t be more proud of this incredible group of young women.  They are inspiring thousands of children throughout the America SCORES program, who look up to them and now have a reason to believe anything is possible.” The team is being coached by the Open Goal Project, a fiscally sponsored project of DC SCORES. Open Goal Project director Simon Landau added, “this team has really bonded through the training process, and will return home from Russia with amazing experiences, stories and most importantly, personal growth.”    
DC SCORES is the official community partner of Major League Soccer’s D.C. United, which, with the support of Adidas, provided gear for the American team.  “D.C. United are proud to help support the nine amazing women from Washington, D.C., representing the United States at the Street Child World Cup through our community partnership with DC SCORES,” said Tom Hunt, United’s president of business operations.  “We are committed to supporting our community and we wish the team the best of luck in Russia on the international soccer stage.”
The American team will depart from the field at Bell High School (located at 3101 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20010, with the field located behind the school, on Hiatt Place NW) on Wednesday May 9, 2018 at 9:00 AM, and bus to New York’s JFK Airport, where they’ll board an afternoon flight for Moscow, returning 10 days and countless experiences later.  Media opportunities are available in Washington, DC, up to and on departure day; in New York on departure day; and when the inspiring group of young women return to the U.S. on May 19. Later in the year, the team plans to share their experiences at the United Nations.  To learn more about this amazing event and the young women proudly representing America, please contact Michael Holstein (mholstein@dcscores.org / 504-321-5980).

###

About America SCORES: A national nonprofit organization, America SCORES partners with public schools in low-income communities to provide a high-quality, award-winning after-school program to elementary and middle school youth.  Integrating soccer, poetry and service-learning, this innovative approach improves at-risk students’ health, academic achievement and civic engagement by focusing on teamwork, creativity, literacy, school engagement and leadership. America SCORES’ mission is to inspire urban youth to lead healthy lives, be engaged students, and have the confidence and character to make a difference in the world.  Learn more at www.americascores.org

About Open Goal Project: Through financial and logistical support, Open Goal Project is a Washington, DC non-profit that identifies and aids talented youth soccer players from low-income families to overcome costs and lack of resources to make the most of their potential on and off the field.  Since launching in 2015, Open Goal has helped register more than a dozen local players for travel soccer teams, has covered registration and costs for numerous players to attend summer camps and provided free clinics and high-level training for youth players in DC. The Open Goal Project is a fiscally sponsored project of DC SCORES, a 501(c)(3) registered non-profit organization.  Learn more at http://www.opengoalproject.org/

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Recommendation: vote no on Initiative 77 and help tipped workers; basically every bar and restaurant in our area agrees

DC has a primary election coming up June 19 with a number of things on the ballot: the Democratic primaries for Mayor, Chairman of the DC Council, Ward 1, 3, 5 and 6 council, and many other races. The Democratic primaries are generally the de facto election, as there are way more registered Dems than other parties in the city.

However, there's also a question called Initiative 77 that is related to wages for tipped workers, such as bartenders and waitstaff at restaurants. Developed by Restaurant Opportunities Centers, a group out of New York City, it sounds good when you read it: the idea is to get rid of tipped wages and instead gradually give tipped workers the minimum wage in the city. Supporters say it will reduce poverty.

However, both bar and restaurant owners and waitstaff in DC are opposed to it. To me, that is a good reason not to support it, as everyone affected by it are opposed to it, including the people the initiative is supposed to help. There are some bars and restaurants that skirt the law right now and don't pay their workers their fair share or tips, but opponents of Initiative 77 say that is being addressed anyway, and this new proposal won't really help.

Both owners and waitstaff say the bill will make it harder to earn a living and won't address the issues ROC says it will, such as sexual harassment. They think that the initiative will put a limit on what they make currently (currently it's generally higher than the minimum wage) or even lower their wages.

Restaurant owners also say it will be harder for restauranteurs to make money, that items may cost more on menus, they may be forced to have smaller staffs, and it may cause some places to close down or move to the suburbs. They also say it will be harder for lower income people to open restaurants, as they will cost more to open.

The City Paper has a good rundown, and I've also heard from my friends in the service industry that they don't want this. SaveOurTips.com was set up by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington to oppose the initiative, and has a lot of arguments on it. There's also VoteNo77.com, set up by local bar and restaurant owners, which says the law will result in labor costs being $11 per hour per person higher, which is a lot.

The open letter at VoteNo77 is signed by basically every bar and restaurant owner in the neighborhood: the folks behind DC Reynolds, El Chucho, Little Coco's, Wonderland, Thip Khao, Himitsu, Bad Saint, Ellē, Room 11, Purple Patch, Franklin Hall and Ten Tigers. As you notice that's a lot of small business owners, it's not the big national chains.

So I recommend you vote no on Initiative 77.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Wonderland's Sundress Festival street party is back, this Sunday 10am-2am, benefitting DC Central Kitchen


It's back! Wonderland's annual Sundress Fest: a street party and giant happy hour where you get drink deals if you wear a sundress -- guys and girls alike. If you don't have one, they'll happily sell you a lovely one for a few bucks, with proceeds going to DC Central Kitchen.

The event is a blast, and has evolved from a big party on the patio to closed street hoedown with music, food vendors, booths and general fun times. I highly recommend it if you haven't been before, and you may see yours truly in a sure to be stylish sundress.

Here's more from the Wonder crew from their Facebook event.
The grass is turning green, the birds are chirping in the trees, and sundresses are reappearing on the racks of your favorite thrift store! Lo, SUNDRESS FEST 2018 is just beyond the horizon! 
Sundress Fest, DC's best beer-infused block party, is a celebration of summer that takes place at the Wonderland Ballroom every first Sunday of May with proceeds benefiting DC Central Kitchen.

Mark your calendars for Sunday May 6, and be sure to save this event on Facebook to get all the details on the day's festivities as they become available!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

New Peruvian chicken and grill, Mister Rotisserie, replaces Bell Corner Stop at Park and Georgia


If you like Peruvian chicken, rotisserie chicken or other grilled meats, you're in luck. A new spot called Mister Rotisserie has replaced the Bell Corner Stop convenience store at 3501 Georgia. Bell also had a Caribbean deli but I never got a chance to try it.

The menu in their window has Peruvian chicken (aka pollo a la brasa) with yuca, rice and beans, as well as steak and cheese, burger, salmon, chicken tenders, and ribeye steak. There are a few tables inside as well.

The place has gradually been getting rid of the corner store items, and now there's just a drink cooler or two.

Bell was there since at least 2010, and maybe longer. The same location was previously Park View Pharmacy -- I found an old medicine bottle with a Park View Pharmacy label for "tincture of belladonna" at an antique store. Park View DC has more about the history of the drug store.

That tincture was apparently used for digestive issues, but belladonna is also a famous poison -- it's also known as nightshade.



Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Columbia Heights Farmers Market back open on Saturdays!

Time for fresh food: the Columbia Heights Farmers Market is now open again, every Saturday from 9am-1pm. It will also eventually be open on Wednesdays, but I think that comes in a few months. The market is on the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza, the triangle plaza bounded by 14th, Park and Kenyon.

The Mt. Pleasant Farmers Market is also open, starting early April, also from 9am-1pm. It's in Lamont Park, the triangular park at Mt. Pleasant Street NW & Lamont.  The Petworth Market at Georgia and Upshur, will open in May.

I'm a big fan of all the markets -- Columbia Heights seems to have more stuff, but all of them are nice and worth a visit. I really like the sausage vendor at Petworth and the bread at Columbia Heights. I'd also recommend checking out EllÄ“, the awesome bakery, coffee shop and restaurant, if you're at the MtP market.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Columbia Heights neighborhood cleanups this Saturday, the day before Earth Day


The weather this weekend is looking nice and Sunday is Earth Day: why not get out and help pick up some litter around the area? The "Great CoHi Cleanup" is this Saturday, April 21, from 1-3pm. The event, organized by local resident Jordana Merran and a few ANC commissioners, aims to bring people together and help make our are look tidy.

Here's more details, and there is an invite link too (mostly to remind yourself.)
Columbia Heights has a pretty serious trash problem. Plastic bottles, aluminum cans, straws, lids, and more line nearly every sidewalk. 
But on Saturday, April 21-- the day before Earth Day-- residents and friends will take to the streets and show the neighborhood (and the planet) a little love. Volunteers will go out in teams to pick up trash and litter at The Great CoHi Cleanup. 
Sign up to volunteer on Eventbrite and follow the Facebook page for news and updates leading up to the event. Trash bags and gloves will be provided; but bring a reusable water bottle and wear a green shirt if you have one!

Bad Saint looking to add 10-seat outdoor patio area!


Good news for fans of much lauded restaurant Bad Saint on 11th -- ANC commissioner and Ward 1 council candidate Kent Boese has news that the popular Filipino spot is looking to add ten patio seats. The spot currently has 24 seats and a long wait almost every day, so that's a good sign.

Eater confirmed the news with Bad Saint co-owner Genevieve Villamora. They aren't sure of a timetable but they've submitted the paperwork. Villamora told Eater they may have the same menu on the patio, or perhaps other options.
Nice to hear! I've been once and it's fantastic, but you have to get in line many hours before. I've even seen a guy who comes by and offers to sit in line for you (for a fee.)

Photo by Farrah Skeiky, from their Facebook page

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Whoa! Wawa coming to 14th and Irving, replacing Five Guys, Pete’s, Potbelly


If you’re a Wawa fan, you’re probably going to be thrilled — while if you’re a Five Guys, Pete’s Apizza or Potbelly fan, maybe not.

Wawa, the Philly-area convenience store know for their subs (or hoagies if you prefer) is coming the corner of 14th and Irving. It’s replacing Five Guys, Pete’s Apizza and Potbelly. A reader sent me a picture showing that Five Guys has already closed, and I expect the others to close soon too.

The next closest Pete’s locations are in Silver Spring and Friendship Heights. For Five Guys, its’s NoMa and Takoma, and for Potbelly it’s Georgia and Bryant near Howard U. (Oddly, a sign at Five Guys sign says they'll see you downtown, but maybe that's just where the franchisee has other stores.)

I’ve never gotten a hoagie at Wawa but the chain has some serious brand loyalty and hard core fans. This will be the third Wawa in the city, behind one on 19th Street and another coming to Georgetown. The rumor is this one will be open 24 hours.

I contacted the Pete's Apizza folks, they said they're closing Sunday and plan to extend the delivery area of their other locations to try to cover part of the 14th and Irving location's delivery zone, but won't be able to cover it all. They don't plan to open another location around our area. Too bad, I love that pizza.

The news was first reported by PoP and confirmed by the Washington Business Journal; which is good, because a previous PoP story about Wawa coming to 15th and P turned out to be wrong.


What do you think of this news? Hooray Wawa or sad to lose these three spots?


Monday, April 9, 2018

Bagel shop and deli Call Your Mother from Timber Pizza Co. coming to Alfie's/Tchoup's space aiming for summer



In January, we learned that the folks behind Timber Pizza Co. on Upshur were planning to open a Jewish-style deli called Call Your Mother in the space vacated by Tchoup's and Alfie's.

nd now WTOP reports that they're hoping to open in the summer. I walked by the other day and construction is underway.

They plan to have bagels made in a wood-fired oven that are a cross between New York and the denser, smaller and sweeter Montreal-style bagels. WTOP says they've been baking various test bagels for months to perfect them. They're calling them "New Montreal" bagels and jokingly call it "Jew-ish" as it's not all completely traditional.

We previously heard they'll have Jewish deli-inspired food like bagel sandwiches, latke fries and seared Matzoh ball soup. The nagel sandwiches may include egg, smoked salmon or smoked whitefish, and pastrami, egg and cheese. WTOP reports They also plan to have cream cheese made from scratch.

They also plan to have various themed dinners, like fried chicken, Peking duck, and a New York-style pizza night: "big pies, fried calamari, garlic knots — your stereotypical New York-style pizza dinner, but done really well," according to Timber's Andrew Dana. They plan to use the patio as well. Sounds like a nice spot for a morning bagel or lunch sandwich.

If you want to try their bagels in the meantime, they're available at the Dupont and Silver Spring farmers markets. You can also follow them on Instagram.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Howard U's week long student protest and sit-in is over; administration agrees to 7 of 9 demands

Howard University has recently been in the national news: students have staged a week-long protest, occupying the administration building. The protest grew out a recent scandal where university employees stole $1 million out of the school's financial aid budget. The employees were fired but students and others criticized the university for a lack of transparency -- the school learned of the thefts in 2016, which began in 2007, but didn't tell anyone.

The scandal also brought forth a number of long-simmering complaints by the students about poor facilities, a difficult and unclear housing selection problems, a dismissive attitude by administrators, increased tuition, health and safety concerns such as sexual assault, increased mental health services and the desire to disarm Howard University Police, the resignation of the university president, and more student say in decisions on campus. They posted their demands on twitter, and the university president also faces a no-confidence vote from faculty.

And just now, WAMU reports that the protest has ended with Howard agreed to 7 of the 9 demands: all but the president and Board of Trustees resigning were agreed to. Howard also released a statement about the agreement, and in an email, the chair of the Board of Trustees, called the protests "an inflection point" for the university.

Howard agreed to extend the deadline for a housing deposit (which was originally announced one day before it was due), a new student ombudsperson to help address issues, counseling and mental health services, looking at a tuition freeze, a new task force to look at whether the campus police should be armed, a grievance reporting system for conduct for students, faculty, staff and administrators, a sexual assault and gender harassment task force, and a food pantry for students.

The Howard statement is below:

Howard University Board of Trustees and Howard Administration Commitments
This Statement of Commitments, dated April 6, 2018, issued by the Howard University Board of Trustees and the University Administration, addresses concerns that have been raised about student life at Howard University. While the commitments may have been discussed with HUResist and HUSA leaders, in light of recent events, these commitments are meant to address the needs, and are for the benefit and welfare, of the entire Howard University community.
•    The deadline for submitting the institution’s $200 housing deposit was extended to May 1, 2018. A community wide announcement of the extension was already shared on April 1, 2018.
•    If the housing deadline extension results in a significant number of students requesting on- campus housing, the Quad renovation will be delayed to accommodate additional occupancy.
•    Howard will engage students in examining the adequacy of on-campus housing to meet Howard’s housing policy that states: “All Howard University first year (0 or 1 completed semesters of post- high school education) and second year (2 or 3 completed semesters of post-high school education) students under the age of 21 will be required to live on campus, unless living at home with a parent or guardian,” and measure against bed availability.
•    Students will have a voice in selecting the student ombudsperson. The ombudsperson will be a graduate student who will be located in the Blackburn Center, and will report to the VP for Student Affairs and is expected to attend the Board Student Life and Affairs Committee meetings to make reports.
•    The health and  well-being  of  our  community  is  of  critical  importance,  and  the  Board  and administration want to be supportive of the well-being of our students.  Howard will implement the Proposal for a Joint Student-Administration Task Force to Enhance Psychiatric and Behavioral Health Services, dated April 1, 2018. Counseling provided under this Proposal will place emphasis on helping students overcome the anxiety of reporting sexual violence to the authorities.  The Task Force will be co-chaired by a student and review the process for intake and will report to the Vice President for Student Affairs.
•    The Board recognizes the cost of tuition is an area of utmost importance to the entire Howard community. Howard will commit to making a recommendation to the Board to consider holding undergraduate tuition at current levels for the academic year 2019-20 while working with the Tuition Rates and Fees Committee, which already includes student representation, to assess tuition and fees for academic year 2020-21. As part of this process, the University will make comparative data used to inform its decisions available to the student body.
•    While Howard’s goal has always been to ensure the safety of our campus community, a separate task force, co-chaired by a student, will be created to undertake a comprehensive review of the Howard Department of Public Safety, focusing on its engagement with the Howard student body, the use of force, training and whether there is a need for armed officers. The task force shall be represented by administration, faculty and student stakeholders, will include experts in criminal justice, and will set forth the process and timeline for its work. The task force will be established by July 1, 2018.
•    The Board agrees to establish a task force, co-chaired by a student, with representation from the Howard student body and Howard administration to review existing grievance mechanisms at the University, and best practices at other universities, and establishing a grievance system that holds faculty, administrators and students accountable in their language and actions towards anyone in the Howard community. Any inappropriate behavior goes against Howard’s core values and will not be tolerated by the Howard community.  Howard will maintain the existing anonymous hotline as a channel to report such grievances. Professors will be reminded of their obligations to advise students of how to avail themselves of the grievance process for questioning grades.
•    The Board is committed to fostering and maintaining an academic and living environment that is free of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and other forms of interpersonal violence.  As part of our commitment, we recently thoroughly assessed our Title IX policies and processes, gathered student, faculty and staff feedback during this process, and unveiled last year a new interim Title IX Policy on Prohibited Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment. To further support this critical area for our campus community, a task force, co-chaired by a student, will be established with representation from the Howard student body, faculty and administration for the purpose of examining the current climate on Howard’s campus around sexual assault, sexual harassment and interpersonal violence and providing feedback to the administration on changes in policy and process as appropriate to improve student safety and prevent sexual assault, sexual harassment and interpersonal violence.  Included in the scope of work of the task force, working with the Office of the Provost, is consideration of instituting a mandatory 1-credit course with a curriculum designed to emphasize prevention of sexual assault, sexual harassment and interpersonal violence.  Every reasonable action will be taken to start up the task force so that it can begin its work before April 30, 2018.  For the sake of clarity, the proposal to establish Howard University Hospital as a site for rape kit examinations of victims of sexual assault is a matter of local law and is not part of this commitment. The University will provide transportation to sexual assault victims to Washington Hospital Center, the location where rape kit examinations are administered.
•    Howard will  support  a  student-led  effort  to  establish  a  food  pantry  in  the  LeDroit-Shaw community and will allocate money for that purpose.  Student volunteer involvement in service to, and fundraising for, the food pantry will be encouraged. Students are commended for the concern shown for the greater LeDroit-Shaw community and at Howard, we always want to be good community stewards. A plan for the food pantry will be submitted by students to the VP for External Affairs by June 1, 2018. While the University has a long history of commitment to and involvement in the community, the University will consider by June 1, 2019 the establishment of a community development organization which might allow for more inclusive community engagement on select real estate projects where no contractual obligations currently exist (not involving existing real estate holdings or immediate core development opportunities).   The University’s Ethics Policy requires that it comply with “the requirements of [all] laws.”  As a party to eight collective bargaining agreements, the University is subject to the National Labor Relations Act relating to fair labor practices. The University will continue to draw on the resources of the School of Law’s Fair Housing Clinic to assist members of the community.
•    Subject to approval of the Board Governance Committee, a Board Committee on Student Life and Affairs will be established on which trustees, including student trustees, the President of HUSA and other appropriate stakeholders, will engage with the student body, providing a forum to convey concerns regarding all aspects of student life to the Board as needed. The Howard administration will create more opportunities for dialogue with students and the Committee will establish a mechanism for such engagement.