Friday, April 27, 2012

Theft from autos: watch out, and can you help a victim?

Theft from autos is a big problem in our neighborhood -- you should always make sure you don't keep anything of value in your car, and if you do, hide it. Even seeing the brackets for holding MP3 players or GPS units can alert thieves to what's in there. Sometimes crooks will even break in just to steal small change from the dash or console. And sometimes, no matter what you do, you just might get unlucky anyway.

A reader sent me this, can anyone help? If you have any info, email me at newcolumbiaheights(at)gmail(dot)com and I'll pass it on to the reader.

And as always, even if you don't think the police can help, call them. They track all crimes and can use that information to focus on certain areas or types of crimes, even if they aren't able to catch the criminal in your case.

Here's the reader's story:

I think it would be fair to caution to your readers, however trivial or self-evident, that it is really important to keep their personal items out of view in their car, even when parking in a well-traveled, well-lit area. Indeed, my items werent even in view, only a power cord coming out from a backpack under my driver-side seat. 
My car was broken into last night at Newton and Holmead, in front of the church. In front of a house of worship! It seems as though several attempts were made at a back window which they were unable to break, leading me to believe that residents in the area may have heard something or seen something which is why I am writing to you to see if you could broadcast on my behalf.
Along with various electronics (including my a 15in MacBook pro - Serial W8049847AGU), they took a book bag with various items of sentimental value, to include a copy of The Unbearable Lightness of Being which was not mine and several LSAT books (not sentimental, actually hated, but valuable).  
If you, or anyone you know, has any information on this, I would be indebted.

Photography showcase and fundraiser at LAYC's Art + Media House on Saturday

The Latin American Youth Center's Art + Media House, a great spot that offers classes for kids and adults, is holding a fundraiser on Saturday. Take a look. The house has done a lot of great work, like bringing kids together to make the mural on Kenyon Street across from Wonderland, and they also have great classes for adults. I took a printmaking one and really enjoyed it. 

Flash 4 Futures Photography Showcase + Fundraiser! 
Saturday, April 28, 2012
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM 
Latin American Youth Center Art and Media House
3035 15th Street, NW
Washington DC 20000 
As a part of the Wilson High School Future Project, participants from the Latin American Youth Center in Columbia Heights took part in a photography workshop where they took pictures of things that were meaningful to them. The purpose of this was to inspire them to see the beauty within their community. Some of the pictures they took were turned into cards that will be sold to raise money for the LAYC. 
At this event these kids will be sharing the photographs they took and their cards will be sold. Make sure to bring family and friends along with you! Aside from buying cards and having the kids share their photos, there will be appetizers and a raffle for someone to win a camera to take home! 
Drop in any time from 2:00-4:00pm and enjoy awesome pictures of the Columbia Heights neighborhood. 
If you have any questions feel free to contact Natasha Timmons

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

First look at Maple on 11th Street

Maple, the new restaurant with the crowd-sourced concept that we've written about before, is now open. NCH reader @CitizenCassidy took a first look at the spot a few days ago, and here's his thoughts!

Maple feels like a slice of New York-swank plopped down in Columbia Heights. It's just a touch roomier that the Manhattan wine bars that it echoes, but it seems to have stayed true to their wine pricing. ($9 and up.) The food menu is limited, but solid and reasonably priced. Our party enjoyed the lamb ragu over fettucini and arugula salad, which were elegant but simple.  
Despite its upscale aesthetic, Maple smartly lets servers be personable and playful. Both servers were professional, but liberal with one-liners and cute asides. Considering Red Rocks' ambivalent service, Meridian Pint's unimaginative and overpriced menu, Room 11's cramped feel, and Wonderland's B-n-T invasion, Maple is easily the best place to drink and eat on 11th Street's north end.
Sounds pretty good. Have you been? What do you think. So far the spot is getting good reviews on Yelp.

Maple is located at 3418 11th St NW. Here's their website and Twitter.

Kids' film festival at Gala Theatre starting May 5

If you have kids or want to check out some good movies, take a look!

GALita Children’s Theatre


Washington, D.C. – GALita, a program of GALA Hispanic Theatre, is proud to present its 4th Children's Film Festival at GALA Theatre, located at 3333 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20010, just one block from the Columbia Heights Metro Station (Green & Yellow lines). Parking is available at a discounted rate in the Giant Food garage on Park Road, NW (validation at the theater). 

The festival presents classic children’s films from Argentina, Mexico, and El Salvador that capture the imagination of children and parents alike. The films are fun, educational and stimulate children to think creatively. The films are in Spanish.  The films from Mexico and Argentina feature English subtitles. 

The film festival will be presented on Saturdays, May 5 at 3 pm, May 19 at 1 pm and 3 pm, and May 26 at 3 pm. The duration of each film varies between 50 and 90 minutes, and the content is suitable for the whole family. This festival is presented with the cooperation of the Ibero-American Cultural Attachés Association of Washington, DC.
Festival Schedule

Saturday, May 5 at 3 pm
In Spanish with English subtitles
Gaturro, a sensitive and loving house cat, dreams of becoming a superhero or gallant to win the heart of his beloved Agatha. But with the help of his neighborhood friends he becomes a television celebrity, which causes him to lose sight of his bearing and the love of Agatha.   
Origin: Argentina       Year: 2010     Genre: Animation      Length: 80 minutes   

Saturday, May 19 at 1 pm
In Spanish without subtitles
The childhood stories of Salurrué (Salvador Salazar Arrue Ephraim) come to life on the big screen. Full of surprises, the characters amaze, entertain, and make us reflect on life.

Origin: El Salvador       Year: 2009    Genre: Animation    Length:  57 minutes
Saturday, May 19 at 3 pm
In Spanish with English subtitles

This film is based on a children’s song by María Elena Walsh, and was released again in 2005 in Argentina. Manuelita, the main character, is as famous in Argentina as Winnie the Pooh is in the United States.

Origin: Argentina       Year: 1999     Genre: Animation      Length: 86 minutes 
Saturday, May 26 at 3 pm
LA REVOLUCIÓN DE JUAN ESCOPETAIn Spanish with English subtitles

After an unexpected event, Gapo, an11 year old boy from a small mining town in Guanajuato, sets out to find his brother “El Damián”, a hero of the Mexican Revolution. But he won’t be traveling alone. Juan Escopeta, a gunman on a historical mission, will be his companion on the journey.

Origin: México                       Year: 2010     Genre: Animation      Length: 90 minutes
GALita produces children’s theater in both Spanish and English that inspires a sense of joy, discovery, pride and identity in the community’s youngest children. Accessible to both Spanish and English speaking children, GALita’s productions spark their curiosity and tolerance for cultures other than their own.

Admission is $8 per child and $10 per adult. Children under 2 are free. For more information, call 202-234-7174 Monday through Friday between 9:30 am and 6:00 pm. No reservations are necessary.

FOR TICKETS:  Call (202) 234-7174 or visit

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sleepy's mattress shop is now open in the Nash's space

The spot that housed Nash's Sporting Goods, the small local chain that closed a few months ago in the Tivoli building on 14th, is now filled. Sleepy's, the mattress chain, has opened there.

I'm pretty surprised at this: there is already a Mattress Discounters in DCUSA on Park Road, and now there's another mattress store about a block away? Is there really that big a market for mattresses? And I'm also surprised that the Mattress Discounters and the Vitamin Shoppe have managed to stay in business, anyway.

I guess it's good it's not a vacant spot, but this is strange to me.

Your thoughts?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Final Z-Burger community meeting tonight

Z-Burger, the long-delayed burger spot coming to the Tivoli building at 14th and Park, is having their final community meeting today to iron out some of the remaining issues, which have contributed to their delay in opening (they also focused on opening another location first.) Here's more info:
FINAL Z Burger/community meeting
There will be one FINAL community meeting with Z Burger in an attempt to resolve the three remaining issues of contention surrounding Z Burger's sidewalk cafe (NE corner 14th St & Park Rd NW) application to the DDOT Public Space Committee. The issues, in order of concern, are:

1) proposed removal/relocation of an existing granite bench
2) proposed fencing around the seating area
3) number and arrangement of seats 
The meeting will be:
Mon. Apr. 23, 7pm
Park Triangle Apts., rooftop
1375 Kenyon St NW 
Please attend if you can. Your voice is important to helping Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1A - - make the best decision when it votes on the application at its Wed. May 9 meeting.
The community's desired alternative proposal and Z Burger's best counter are attached for your review.
Please contact ANC commissioner Laina Aquiline with any questions.
The complaints about the bench seem a little silly to me. I like benches but for that to delay an entire business? If it's such a big deal, have Z-Burger fund another one somewhere else. I don't see why fencing is a problem either, as other places have fencing -- Alero, Wonderland, Meridian Pint, and so on. Plus the alternative proposal seems to have more seats than Z-Burger's proposal, so I don't see the deal there either. Z-Burger asks for 32 while the community offers 42.

Z-Burger, as you may recall, looks really impressive inside. And they might be haunted!

Food Truck Night in Mt. Pleasant on Thurs., Apr. 26

The DC Empanadas Truck If you like food trucks, or just food in general, get yourself to Mt. Pleasant on Thursday evening:
Join your Mount Pleasant neighbors for an evening of food and fun! Porc, Fojol, Pleasant Pops and DC Empanadas will be in Mount Pleasant for our first ever Food Truck Thursday. Help make it a success for the neighborhood and the food trucks so that we can make this a regular event. 
There has also been talk of having board game night out in the Park to make it a fun evening, and get to know some of your neighbors! 
Come for some food and outdoor fun, stay in the neighborhood and have a drink with some friends at some of the neighborhood establishments afterwards. 
Haydees Restaurant ( has so generously provided 20% off cards that I will have at the food truck event, and they will be having Rock Creek Jazz ( playing that evening from 7 til 11 just down the street. Their food and margaritas are amazing, and I promise that you will love them. A great neighborhood restaurant if you've never been there. 
Don Juan's just off of the park will be having karaoke that evening, and I'm waiting to hear back on any specials they may have for the food truck event. They have wonderful food and drinks, and an amazing outdoor patio whenever the weather is nice! 
Enjoy the great establishments and people of our wonderful neighborhood!
Date:   Thursday, April 26 
Time:   5:30 - 8:30 p.m. 
Place:  Lamont Park (Mt. Pleasant Street & Lamont)
Facebook:  http://www.facebookcom/events/363747047010711/ 
Bring your appetite!  Bring your friends!  Bring your cash! 
(This event is weather-contingent -- rain will unfortunately cancel it.)
Of course, the folks behind PORC are opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant, the Kangaroo Boxing Club, on 11th Street. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Gang intervention course for non-profits and citizens

Want to learn more about how to stop gangs and prevent young people from joining? The Columbia Heights Shaw Family Support Cooperative, which does a lot of great work with youth, is holding a training for their Metropolitan Regional Gang Intervention Certification Graduation Program. 

It's Thursday, May 3rd from 10 AM until 1 PM at the Silver Spring Civic Center Main Ballroom, 1 Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910. 

Here's more about it:
Intervention workers have participated in a first of its kind gang intervention certification program that will help to set the standard for gang intervention work in the region. We believe this training will help to not only professionalize gang intervention work but also enhance our intervention efforts in the region. The training has bought together the Columbia Heights Shaw Family Support Collaborative, Montgomery County Street Outreach Network and the Prince Georges County Office of Public Safety. Please come out and support.
Sounds like a great program.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

New and incoming business map is updated

Readers of the blog may remember our new business map, where I track all the businesses that are either coming in or have recently opened. I just added the newest spots, so check it out. And let me know in the comments if I forgot anything.

The blue dots are local places, green are local chains, and red are national chains. A dot means it's a restaurant or bar, no dot means a store or something else.

As you can see, most of the chains are clustered around 14th and Irving, while the local spots are clustering on 11th, parts of Georgia and upper parts of 14th.

View Columbia Heights New Businesses in a larger map

What was your street's old name?

1903 map from Library of Congress, via Ghosts of DC
Ghosts of DC, a fantastic local history blog I've been meaning to write about, has a great post about the old street names in our neighborhood. I've mentioned this a few times before, but not to this detail, and I never knew when or why the names were changed.

A number of the streets originally had names you might not be familiar with: Irving was called Kenesaw and Fairmont was Yale, for example. A lot of the street names, some of which didn't change, were related to colleges (Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Columbia, Kenyon, Dartmouth, etc.) due, I believe, to the presence of Columbian College in what is now Meridian Hill Park. The college later moved downtown and became the George Washington University. And there were also other street names like Steuben, Huntington, Ludlow and Whitney.

 In 1904, Congress gave the District Commissioners the right to rename the streets outside the old city boundary, which was Boundary Street (which we know today as Florida Avenue. The reason it curves is because it follows the bottom of the hilly area -- my theory is it's because it was hard to ride a horse or a horse and buggy up and down a hill.) They chose to name them in accordance with the rest of the city's alphabetical plan -- as you can see above, they weren't alphabetical at all and some even changed names halfway through their run. Even some of what are now numbered streets weren't numbered. Some folks objected, including a judge who "held up for ridicule the A B C system and the lack of sentimentality which the names would possess."

There were some proposed name changes in 1904, and other, more familiar ones in 1905, published in the Washington Post:
Col. John Biddle, the Engineer Commissioner, submitted to his colleagues of the District board yesterday the completed schedule of changes in the names of streets in the suburban territory north and northwest of Florida avenue. The schedule was practically adopted by the board last Wednesday, six names being held under consideration until yesterday. The list of streets and names follows: 
Columbian College Grounds (North part)–Bacon to Harvard, Binney to Girard. 
Columbian College Grounds (South part)–Chapin unchanged, Staughton to Belmont. 
Columbia Heights–Roanoke to Euclid, Yale to Fairmount [sic], Princeton to Girard, Harvard not changed, Columbia street to Columbia road, Kenesaw to Irving, Kenyon not changed, Dartmouth to Lamont, Whitney avenue to Park road. 
Denison and Leighton’s subdivision–Kenesaw avenue to Irving street, Grant to Lamont. 
Gass subdivision–Whitney avenue to Park road, Scott avenue to Newton place. 
Halls’ subdivision–Eighth to Ninth 
Haw’s subdivision–Grant avenue to Barry place. 
Howard University subdivision–Wilson to V, Pomery to W, Trumbull, east of Fourth, to Bryant; Trumbull, west of Sixth, not changed; Howard avenue to Howard place, Lincoln to Fairmount, Sumner to Girard, Colfax street to Gresham place, Morris street to Hobart place. 
Holmead Manor–Rock Creek Church road not changed, Lydecker avenue to Monroe street, Holmead avenue to Holmead place, Eslin avenue to Eleventh street, Morgan avenue to Tenth street, Lamar place to Otis place.
And then Ghosts of DC found this funny little tidbit in a letter to the editor in 1909 from a Columbia Heights resident, which I've been annoyed about too:
Quite a number of years ago the authorities adopted a scheme for the systematic naming of streets added to those already regularly lettered, numbered and otherwise named. Naturally, it was thought that in its future growth the city would be free from the antiquated, unsystematic arrangement with which it was threatened. But it was not to be. At least, it was not to be, so far as Columbia Heights, where I reside, is concerned. For some reason, or no reason, old local names were retained, and in the case of new streets names were fixed according to the sentimental wishes of individuals or the whim of the street-naming expert. 
With no regard for numerical and alphabetical sequence, we find distributed through the Heights Brown, Center, Oak and Pine streets, Hiatt place, Meridian place, Mozart place, Ingleside terrace. And, especially objectionable, there are duplications of names, as in the case of Spring road, Spring place, Park road, Park place, Parkwood place. All this in one neighborhood. 
Perhaps it may be objected that it would be sacrilegious, if not impracticable to systematically rename these and other thoroughfares. But to this writer it seems that the possible temporary dissatisfaction of a few individuals which might be involved in their renaming would be very much more offset in the case of the thousands of citizens who, from month to month, are inconvenienced, irritated and outraged by the present arrangement.
Good stuff. What was your old street called?

And do yourself a favor and check out Ghosts of DC, they have a lot of great posts about Columbia Heights and other parts of the city.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Radiance MedSpa closed, to be replaced by Cava Mezze Grill

More food! Radiance MedSpa at 3105 14th Street NW (that place that offered botox) closed recently, but it's going to be replaced by a Mediterranean restaurant, says The 42 Bus. The place is basically a Mediterranean Chipotle: you get in line, choose a base, meat (or veg option), toppings and so on. They also have falafel and a lot of vegan options.

The location in Bethesda gets good reviews, and I always was weirded out by Radiance MedSpa, anyway, so I guess it's a good thing.

Here's their website and menu.

As for the other two spots mentioned in The 42 Bus's post, I've written about them before -- Tasti D-Lite, which is sort of frozen custard, is coming to DCUSA in the spot next to Panda Express, and Lime Fresh Grill, a Mexican fast casual spot (with margaritas!), is coming to the spot between Payless and Radio Shack. Both now have signs up.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Columbia Heights Community Marketplace opens May 12, receives grant sponsorship from Giant

The Columbia Heights Community Marketplace, our great farmers market and artisans' fair, is opening on May 12. I'm definitely looking forward to it, I visited a bunch of times last year and got a lot of good fruit, veggies, bread and sausages, crafts, and more. They also have signed up some new vendors.

In addition, Giant just sponsored the market to the tune of $5,000 for their Festibucks program, where people can use nutrition assistance money, like WIC and SNAP, to buy food at the market, as well as their new Youth Garden project. Here's their press release:

A Giant (Foods) Sponsorship of the Columbia Heights Community MarketplaceGiant Foods, a division of Ahold USA, is generously helping to sponsor entertainment for the Columbia Heights Community Marketplace's 2012 season, which kicks off on Saturday, May 12th and runs every Saturday thereafter through December 17th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Giant's $5,000 sponsorship will help the Marketplace, a 501c3 non-profit organization, sustain operations of our farmers market and build our Festibucks program and Youth Garden project. 
Festibucks are matching incentives, also called bonus bucks, that help DC residents receiving federal nutrition assistance (WIC and Senior benefits and SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps) purchase more fresh, locally grown food at the Marketplace's farmers market than they could with just their federal benefits. The program increases their access to nutritious food that could improve their health and also generates economic opportunities for small farmers and food producers in and near Washington, DC. 
Meanwhile, the Youth Garden project teaches elementary and middle school students in Columbia Heights how to sow, care for, and harvest vegetables in an urban setting. But the project goes further by helping students promote and sell the fruits of their labor at the Marketplace's farmers market. 
But sustaining and building these non-profit efforts and our overall operations would not be possible without the generous support of Giant Foods. With that in mind, we thank Jack Eaton, manager of the Tivoli Giant store on Park Road, his in-store team and Giant's corporate leadership. Thank you, Giant!
The market will run every Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm at the Civic Plaza, 14th/Park/Kenyon.

Photo: Store manager Jack Eaton, members of his team, and some of the Community Marketplace board of directors gathered on the evening of Thursday, April 12, 2012 in front of the mural in the Giant store lobby to officially present the check. Giant, Horning Brothers, and ANC1A supported the Community Marketplace and Bloombars to design and paint the mural in Spring 2011.

What are good wi-fi spots in the neighborhood?

Last weekend, I decided to get out and do some work at a coffee shop. I chose Panera, because I like it and there are lots of seats (though finding one is another matter sometimes.) However, turns out the wifi there is very, very slow. I soon gave up and returned home.

But in the meantime I put the query out on Twitter asking for some other good spots to spend some time with a laptop, and I got some answers. Feel free to provide your own in the comments, though.

Coffee-wise, Tynan at 14th and Irving and Flying Fish in Mt. Pleasant were suggested, though Tynan has a no-laptop-before-3pm rule on weekends and also a time limit, so that was out for me. I understand why they have the rule though, as it's a small place and you don't want people hanging out for hours with just a coffee if you can't fit anybody else inside. I'll have to try Flying Fish though.

Sankofa, the bookstore and coffee shop at 2714 Georgia, and the new Coffy Cafe were also suggested. Sankofa opens at 9 on Saturday and 11 on Sunday. There's also Columbia Heights Coffee on 11th, the grandaddy of neighborhood coffee shops, which has free wifi but is quite small, and Sticky Fingers on Park. And Starbucks on 14th, of course, but that place is often mobbed on the weekends. The one at Georgia and Bryant might be an option, though, and Starbucks now has free wifi.

As for restaurants, if you were getting lunch or something you could do work at The Heights or Dulcinea, both of which were mentioned by Twitter folks. I presume you'd have to buy a meal though.

So those are my ideas, did I miss any good spots?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Meeting tonight on potential changes to the 14th Street buses

If you ride the 14th Street buses, make sure you check this out tonight, there's an open house from 5:30 to 8 pm on the 14th Street bus lines. As you may recall, there was a survey a few months ago about the problems with the lines potential changes. 

WMATA posted the problems identified and the potential options: predictably, the problems were that the buses are crowded, there's bunching with no buses for awhile then 2 or 3 at once, and the trips are too slow. I calculated awhile ago that it takes about half an hour to go 2 miles from Columbia Heights to downtown, which equates to about 4 miles an hour.

Some of the options to help these include using articulated buses, the long ones that turn in the middle, like the ones that are used on Georgia Avenue, more supervision of the routes, and possibly adding an express bus, the 59, which would only make limited stops. There wasn't any mention of getting rid of stops unfortunately, which I think would help a lot. The buses generally stop about every block, which is crazy. There are places where the stops are only a few hundred feet from each other.

Here's the study's website for more info.
Just a reminder that there will be an “open house” public meeting this evening for the Metrobus 14th Street Line Study of routes 52, 53, and 54.

The meeting is open to everyone, and will be held at the Columbia Heights Community Center, 1480 Girard Street NW.

If you’re interested in seeing preliminary options for improvements to the Metrobus 14th Street Line, please drop by anytime between 5:30 pm and 8:00 pm tonight.  Project team members will be there to talk about the potential improvements, get your feedback, and answer your questions.

Thanks, and we hope to see you there!

The Metrobus 14th Street Line Project Team
Photo by Elvert Barnes

North Korean artist now showing work at The Dunes

Here's something you don't hear every day: a North Korean artist has an exhibit open now until April 30th at The Dunes, the gallery above The Getaway at 14th and Meridian. (The Washington Post says that's "near Columbia Heights." As opposed to what?) 

But anyway, the artist, Song Byeok, is a painter who does satirical propaganda like portraits of Kim Jong Il in a dress. Kim, the now-deceased dictator of the country, was presented in the country as a super-human (it was said he could change the weather, and he was reported to be an amazing athlete: his first bowling game was a perfect 300, his first golf game included five holes in one, and so on) and was painted many times in heroic portraits. 

Byeok has an interesting story: he himself was a former propaganda painter in the country and later fled to China to find food. His father perished in the attempt and Song was captured and held in a prison camp until he almost died. He was released when authorities believed he was about to die, but he recovered and went to China and then South Korea, and later came to the US thanks to a Kickstarter donation campaign. Pretty cool.

See below for a video about the artist.

Forever Freedom : Song Byeok's Art and Story from Song Byeok on Vimeo.

Confirmed: DCUSA Best Buy not closing

Looks like we'll be keeping our local Best Buy. A tipster sent me this, a press release from the company confirming which stores will be closed, and the DCUSA location is not among them. I also spoke to a worker at the store on Saturday and he said they wouldn't be closing.

I think this is a good thing, despite the bad reviews I've seen and heard about the store. I'd rather keep something there than not have anything. Your thoughts?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Earth Day bike swap on April 22 at Lamont and Mt. Pleasant

This sounds pretty neat if you're looking to get a new bike or bike parts.
DC Bike Swap, Sunday, April 22nd, Earth day. Noon until 3PM.

The stage and surrounding plaza. Lamont Plaza in Mount Pleasant DC. Mount Pleasant St. and Lamont St. NW Washington DC 20010

Bring out your bikes, parts, gear for trade, exchange, sale. Complete bikes, bike parts, tools, art, bags, crafts, shirts, trailers, work-stand, food, books.

This year we are scheduling the Spring swap on a Sunday for all the bike house, bike shop folks, bartenders, and waitrons who have been unable to attend in the past.

No need to register, though please drop a note at the Facebook page for the farmers market bike clinics so we can make proper preparations. As always, there is no charge to attend, register or participate.

We will continue rain or shine. I recommend a blanket or small table for display. We will have several guests and are of course promoting all the wonderful bike resources that DC has to offer: All the local shops, Cabi, WMATA, Co-ops, WABA, MPD, etc.

Don't forget to tell your friends.

Georgia Avenue's Caribbean Festival may be no more

white and red

This is too bad. The annual DC Caribbean Carnival, with its annual parade down Georgia Avenue, may be no more. The parade, which has been in debt $200,000 to the city for years, mostly for added police protection, won't be getting approval this year, nor will the city offer any help, as it has in the past few years.

However, the organizers say the parade isn't canceled, and they're trying to move it to another location.

The parade is a pretty awesome time, but lately there have been a lot of issues: last year, 4 people were shot, with one man killed, and there were also brawls.

Too bad to see it go. Although some argue that the city is too tough on parades like this because they bring in a lot of money, the crime last year, despite the police presence, gives me pause. Then again, you could make the argument that some bad apples shouldn't mean an entire event is cancelled.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Rumor: DCUSA Best Buy to close?

Hmm. Looks like there are rumors that the Columbia Heights Best Buy is among 50 stores the company is planning to close. PoP says somebody told him the store was closing, and a person on an internet forum claiming to be a Best Buy employee has released a list, which does include the DCUSA store.

Not the most reliable sources however, and that may be premature: DCist reached out to the company, which says they won't be releasing the list for some time, but that they would sometime in the future. In addition, they plan to convert some stores to smaller versions called "Connected Stores" which focus more on computers and cell phones. The idea is to increase profit margins by focusing on those items with big margins and saving on rent.

I obviously wouldn't be happy if the store closed, but then again, it gets pretty terrible reviews. I've been there a few times to get some small stuff and thought it was ok. What do you think of the store? And there's always the possibility that if it closed, we'd get something awesome in its place, like Trader Joe's. Or, it could be something else, or would sit empty.

UPDATE: A commenter asked about DSW, the shoe store. They are still coming, but are slated to take a different space, the one behind Best Buy on the second floor, which is only accessible from the first floor. As for Trader Joe's or another grocery store, that's always been more of a hope than anything else. The last we heard, they were in touch with "several grocery operators" about the former Store That Shall Not Be Named space.

UPDATE 2: It's not closing. See the new post here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

ANC commissioner Lenwood Johnson is a jerk

Readers of this blog know this is nothing new: ANC1A10 commissioner Lenwood Johnson is a jerk on the internet. ANC stands for Advisory Neighborhood Commission, these are elected officials who serve to advise the city council on local issues. Here's a map of what Johnson represents: if you live on or around Irving east of 11th, he may be your representative.

One of Johnson's favorite tactics is to forward personal emails to the neighborhood listserves and then insult people -- you may remember when Johnson got into a bicker-fest with fellow ANC comissioners, and when one constituent said he was embarrassed of Johnson's behavior, Johnson called the constituent a "bitchass" and called fellow commissioner Kent Boese a "lowlife." This was after he left an ANC meeting early, meaning there wasn't a quorum and they couldn't vote on something (which in this case was Room 11's expansion plans.) The ANC thought about censuring him after the episode.

There's also the time when Johnson called other commissioners "idiots" after he allegedly paid the ANC phone bill without authorization (which meant it was paid twice).

But he's at it again. Recently on the Columbia Heights listserve, some people were complaining that a dead cat at 13th and Harvard hadn't been picked up by the city, even though it had been reported numerous times. The cat was starting to get bloated and attract flies -- pretty gross.

The first response to the complaint was Johnson:
You should call a local carry-out (any ethnicity). ;)
A couple people complained about this comment, saying it was racist and useless. For example:
Your comment was not in the least bit amusing or funny.  Next time keep your comment to yourself as that could be some child's pet and companion you are talking about.
 And of course, Lenwood flipped out, saying it wasn't racist because he said any ethnicity, and:
My comment was a joke, and if you don't like it, tough! I'm surprised that someone as intelligent as you would get your drawers in a knot over my comment...Go bake a cake or do something else constructive.
The conversation devolves from there. William Jordan somehow brings in Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jim Graham (by implication) and so on and so forth.

This is amazing to me. Johnson is an elected official, and he acts like an idiot, a jerk, and a baby on the internet to constituents. And despite being an elected official, he does nothing to help the situation. He's basically a troll, a person who surfs the internet with the sole purpose of making people pissed off. Which would be ok, except that he was elected to serve his citizens, not act like an ass.

It's my belief that ANC commissioner Cliff Valenti resigned rather than have to deal with his shenanigans (though there may be other issues too.) Johnson was the only ANC commissioner I explicitly suggested you vote against in the last elections. Plus last year he claimed to have an unregistered firearm in his house. I've also heard rumors that he doesn't actually live in his district, or even in the city altogether, which obviously means he couldn't be an ANC commissioner (though those are unverified.) One commenter said this as well.

I'm not sure if Johnson is up for election again this cycle, but if he is DO NOT VOTE FOR HIM. Please. For the love of God.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Coffy Cafe creperie hosting grand opening on Satuday

Coffy Cafe, the tasty little crepe and coffee shop at 3310 14th Street NW, is holding their grand opening celebration this Saturday from 3 to 7 pm. They've been open a few weeks but decided to have a special event.

There's a 3 pm ribbon cutting, door prizes, and a free chocolate Nutella crepe for the first 100 people.

I went a few days after opening and really enjoyed it. I think it'll be a great place to go when it's nice out, grab a crepe to go and hang out on the Civic Plaza.

Here's their website.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

PORC foodtruck's restaurant gets a name: Kangaroo Boxing Club

PORC, the Purveyors of Rolling Cuisine who run a pork-based food truck and are opening a restaurant at 3412 11th Street NW, have chosen a name for their establishment: Kangaroo Boxing Club. They spoke to the City Paper to explain the silly name: 
The name, Kangaroo Boxing Club, comes from long-running, drink-infused, late-night bar discussions on the fact that, without technology, man is physically unable to compete with the majority of the animal kingdom.  How would you win a match with a kangaroo?
Kind of reminds me of those discussions you'd have as a kid: who would win in a fight, Batman or Superman? A rhino or an elephant? A giraffe or a panda? (Superman, rhino, giraffe, in my opinion.)

The spot will be taking the place of the Victor Giron restaurant, not Acuario as I reported earlier (my mistake.)

Foodwise, Eater DC reports they'll have the fare from the food truck, like sausages and pork products, plus "other unique selections." They also joked that they'll be open sometime between thing spring and fall 2016.

Sounds good. I like pork.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

New restaurant Maple has picked a concept; or, concepts

You may recall Maple, the new restaurant coming to 3418 11th Street, which used a new website called Popularise to solicit ideas from the public for what they should serve.

While cheesily-written, some of the ideas were good, like panini and a wood-fired grill, while some were dumb: two different suggestions for a French bakery got 10 votes, despite the fact that Le Caprice just opened about 2 blocks away.

But the owners have chosen their concepts: the top two vote-getters wood-fired grill and sandwiches & panini, plus bruschetta, which was 4th. The third-place vote-getter, fancy grilled cheese sandwiches, didn't make the cut.

Here's what owners Eric Gronning and Lori Robertson had to say:
Thanks to the Popularise community for your feedback! Maple is set to open in late March, and we are grateful to everyone who gave us their input as we fine-tuned our plans. 
Our cozy restaurant and bar will serve Italian and modern American food, with panini and bruschetta playing starring roles. (Don’t worry grilled cheese fans, we heard you and we’ve got you covered – how about a three-cheese panini with toasted walnuts and pesto?) We’ll also feature a few pasta specials, and we plan to have the grill up and running for the summer grilling season! 
Your request for late kitchen hours was duly noted: Our kitchen will be open until 11 p.m. during the week and Midnight on the weekend. We appreciate your support and look forward to seeing you all at Maple!
I don't think they're open yet though, despite the note. You can read more here.

UPDATE: It's open now!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Don't forget! Vote tomorrow for At-Large City Council

Tomorrow is voting for a few races in town, namely the At-Large City Council seat currently held by Vincent Orange. It's technically the primary, but since the vast majority of the city are Democrats, this is basically the election.

So, who is running? Incumbent Vincent Orange is running against Sekou Biddle, Peter Shapiro, and E. Gail Anderson Holness. Biddle is a former councilmember, being appointed temporarily to Kwame Brown's seat when he became council chair, serving a few months until the new council was seated. Shapiro is a former Prince George's County councilmember, and Holness is the chair on ANC1B, which serves part of Columbia Heights.

Here's my thoughts: Vincent Orange isn't a bad person per se, but he didn't call for Harry Thomas, Jr. to resign after it was uncovered that he used hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for personal expenses, like buying an SUV and taking golf vacations. He's also a career politician, basically, and just doesn't seem like he does very much.

I think Biddle, Shapiro and Holness would all be much better than Orange. However, I also think that the three could split the vote, so I recommend you vote for Sekou Biddle. Biddle was endorsed by the Washington Post, the City Paper, plus two other local pols: current at-large councilmember David Catania (whose seat isn't up for election this cycle) and well-liked former Ward 1 and at-large council candidate and current school board member Patrick Mara. Here's Biddle's site for more info.

But whatever you do, I recommend not voting for Orange, although in hindsight I should have endorsed him over Kwame "Fully-Loaded Navigator" Brown. Here's what the Post said in their endorsement of Biddle:
By contrast, Mr. Orange, a former Ward 5 council member, is too much a creature of the old way of city governing. We have admired Mr. Orange as a wily student of government, endorsing him over Kwame Brown for council chairman in 2010, but his return to the council has been a disappointment. He betrayed his claim to fiscal responsibility with an ill-advised scheme to tax municipal bonds, proved an uncertain ally of school reform and, for all his talk about improving ethics, failed to speak out against former council member Harry Thomas Jr. and his transgressions. Recent questions about how he managed his own political campaigns and the role played by suspicious contributions from a prominent businessman add to our unease.
Plus, you may remember when he parked illegally while calling for more parking enforcement. Not the most glowing example.

Here's the DC Board of Elections and Ethics site for more info on where and how to vote.

And for even more info, the Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force held a candidate forum a few weeks ago and put the answers of each candidate on Youtube. Take a look:

All seven candidates were present who gave opening statements followed by five panel questions, a series of Yes/No questions and three audience questions.  They then gave closing statements.  Their answers to the panel questions, yes/no questions and audience question are on the following Youtube clips.  The panel questions are specifically related to Georgia Avenue issues: 
Forum Question 1: Why do you want this job? 
Forum Question 2: Former Bruce Monroe Site 
Forum Question 3: Lower Georgia Avenue Streetscape and Transportation 
Forum Question 4: Existing small businesses and retail on Georgia Avenue 
Forum Question 5: Addressing the wealth gap in providing housing and employment  
Audience Question 1: Creating one city where no one feels threatened 
Audience Question 2: Quarterly Town Halls 
Audience Question 3: Legislation you are most proud of

Yet another new spot on Georgia: Dulcinea Mexican/Mediterranean Restaurant

Dulcinea, new Mexican restaurantI hope you enjoyed yesterday's April Fool's jokes. And now back to real stuff: there's yet another new restaurant opening on Georgia Avenue, this one at Georgia and Euclid, right next to the really good Mama Chuy.

This place is called Dulcinea, after the character from Don Quixote, and is open now. I glanced in the window and it looks nice, very modern and clean.

Their under construction website (which plays music, so beware) says they serve "authentic Mexican and Mediterranean food" for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I've been by a few times during the morning and they often have a sign out front advertising breakfast specials: breakfast burritos, Mexican omelets and the like. Everything I've seen advertised is Mexican rather than Mediterranean, however, and their sign only says Mexican.

They're open 7am-10pm Monday through Thursday, 7am-11pm Friday and Saturday, and 10am-8pm on Sunday.

They applied for a liquor license the other day too, so they will be serving alcohol.

Dulcinea is located at 2618 Georgia Avenue NW.

UPDATE: I walked past today and they had more traditional breakfast fare: garden omelet, French toast, BLT and the like.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Wonderland getting replaced by Taco Bell

I am kind of torn about this one. I just heard that local watering hole Wonderland is closing, to be purchased by YUM! Brands, the owners of Taco Bell, and a Taco Bell will be opening in its place.

Now I love Wonderland, but I also love the Crunchwrap Supreme. And the Wonderland folks also own Looking Glass, so at least they are still in business. Plus you can always go to Ruby Tuesday at 14th and Monroe, it's got a pretty similar atmosphere and vibe to Wonderland.

I guess this is the trend, (delicious) chains coming to replace local stuff. I mean all local business is kind of underutilized anyway, they don't have the purchasing or marketing power of the big national brands who can charge very little for good stuff like the Doritos Locos Tacos.

What's odd about this, and I don't have any more information, is that the old Wonderland space is two story, but most Taco Bells aren't. Maybe that means they're going to make it a combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, or even the beloved KenTacoHut with KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut under one roof. We can only be so lucky.

Build-a-Bear Workshop coming to Tiovli building

You may recall that local sporting goods chain Nash's Sporting Goods closed a few months ago, bowing to pressure from Modell's, Sports Zone, and I guess Target too.

But now we hear that its replacement will be Build-a-Bear Workshop, the kids' store where you can go in and make your own bear with different clothes, accessories and so on. There's one at Nationals Park now and I must admit it's a pretty fun place, I made a bunch for myself and friends: Screech the Nats' mascot, some other cool bears with funny clothes and stuff. They have lots of funny hats you can choose for them.

I'm glad to see this kind of thing coming in. It should be fun for the kids, and for adults (like I said, building a bear is a good time, especially with your buddies.) It might be a good stop for all the families going to the new Disney hotel at DCUSA too. I hope there are more kids' places like this! We already have the Children's Place store on 14th. That place has pretty nice stuff. Maybe we can get a Chuck E. Cheese instead of Marshall's or something too. 

Whoa! Disney to open hotel in DCUSA!!!

You may recall a few years ago when Disney said they were going to open a hotel at National Harbor in Prince George's County, a resort hotel for families. Then earlier this year, Disney said they were backing out. And now we know why! I just received a bunch of emails from reliable people saying they were going to take the side area in DCUSA that was supposed to be Ellwood Thompson's, on the Irving Street side.

That's pretty awesome, I love Disney and look forward to a bunch of tourist families roving the neighborhood. I'm sure they will enjoy Panera and IHOP next door.

As for a timeline, I'm not sure yet, but they did say the place would have 100 beds, a pool, mini golf, "costumed characters" (i.e. Mickey, Minnie and so on) and more. No rides, since it's a hotel, but they will have lots of Disney themed stuff inside. This also means the parking garage, which is rarely even close to being full (and which the city pays lots of money for) will finally get some use. Apparently they're also thinking of taking one of the remaining DCUSA empty spots for a Disney store.

I am pretty pumped about this. The families will be able to do stuff in our neighborhood and check out our restaurants, and are a short Metro ride from downtown and the Mall and such.

Your thoughts?