Monday, June 30, 2014

Fireworks stand up at 14th and Newton (and already hearing some around)

The 4th of July is almost upon us, and in my opinion Columbia Heights is the best place to be -- if you find a good spot you can see the main fireworks display on the Mall and tons of people in the area shoot of their own DIY fireworks too in every direction -- I've heard it described as Baghdad 1991 for the sheer density of explosions in the sky all over the place.

If you want to buy some fireworks, get yourself to 14th and Newton, where there's a legal stand. They don't sell any that shoot into the air and explode (or the tanks that drive around and shoot sparks, which I like) but do sell lots that spray colored sparks in the air and make noise, plus fun, tamer stuff like sparklers.

DCRA usually posts a list of all the legal fireworks stands in the city, and when they do, I'll post that too.

In the meantime, have fun, and be safe. I already heard some folks shooting off fireworks this past weekend.

New bar with jazz and Jamaican food, The Pitch Tavern, coming to Georgia & Taylor

Looks like another eating and drinking option is coming to southern Petworth: the Pitch, a lounge with Jamaican and American food, is coming to 4015 Georgia Ave NW, above the Petworth Laundromat.

The other day a friend and I spotted a coming soon sign and filings for permits. The bar seems to be where Leila's Restaurant used to be and will have a roof deck plus occasional music, open mic, dancing and DJs. They'll have 50 seats, plus 8 on a sidewalk cafe and 6 on a summer garden cafe (which I assume is the roof, not sure.)

They look to be open Sunday-Thursday from 7am-2am and Friday and Saturday 7am-3am -- though often those hours are reduced by the Advisory Neighborhood Commission. The 7am time is interesting, I wonder if they'll also have breakfast then.

I'm pretty excited about the Jamaican food aspect, I went on vacation to the island a few months ago and had a ton of great food -- not just jerk chicken but also soups, seafood and tasty veggie stuff.

Here's the permit notice below. Sounds interesting.

Washio laundry pickup service: nice idea, poor execution

I'm not a big fan of doing laundry: it takes a while and then folding it takes even longer. So when I heard about Washio, the service that picks up your clothes, washes them and drops them off already folded or on hangers, I was interested. However, in my experience, it wasn't very reliable and kind of pricey.

The service has two rates: wash and fold (think t-shirts, shorts, socks, underwear, etc.) and laundered shirts like dress shirts, slacks, blouses and so on and dry clean items. It's $1.60 per pound for wash and fold and $2.75 for laundered shirts. They bring the bags, you fill them up and that's that -- they take them, clean them, and bring them back. I decided to give them a big order to test it out, with about a dozen laundered shirts and about 25 t-shirts and polos.

The "ninjas" as the delivery folks are called pick up the clothes at a location you specify with a half-hour interval you chose, and then same with delivery. However, I had a lot of problems with both the pickup and delivery drivers  -- the pickup was 1-1.5 hours late, and the dropoff didn't happen at all on the day I specified. They did give a discount, but it was a frustrating experience.

I chose 8-8:30 pm on a Thursday for pickup and dropoff from 8-8:30 on Monday. About 7 pm on Thursday I got a text saying the ninja was on the way, then about an hour later (right about when the pickup window started) I got one saying he was running late due to traffic. They immediately offered 15% off for that inconvenience, which I appreciate. However, by 9:30 the driver still wasn't there, being an hour or 1.5 hours late. I texted back and they said he'd be here soon. When he did arrive, he said it was a crazy day, and he didn't have any bags so I got some trash bags to fill up. Kind of frustrating, but ok, stuff happens. (I had also been one number off on my address when I entered my info, but it was just across the street, so that couldn't have added any time.)

On Monday, I called ahead to ask if I could move the dropoff an hour earlier. They said no problem, and sure enough, I got a text an hour before the updated time that they'd be there in an hour -- so far, so good. I had to go to something at 8, so 7-7:30 would be perfect. However, 7:30 rolled around, then 7:45 and nobody. My roommates said they could grab it (the payment happens via credit card, so they didn't need to pay) and I left. Later on I texted my roommates and they said nobody had showed up. I texted then called the customer service number (to their credit, they are responsive via text and phone.)

The person I spoke to didn't have my dropoff order in her system, so it didn't happen. She thought something about a time change might have been to blame -- they're based in LA, so maybe the person I spoke to changed the time to Pacific rather then Eastern. No other ninjas were available that night, so I had to wait. She apologized profusely and offered to give me a further discount, which was nice, but not as nice as getting my clothes. They were available to come by next morning, earlier than I wanted but still doable, so I scheduled somebody between 7:30 and 8am. The driver came by at 8:15am, but by that time I was just happy to be done with the process.

It's possible I was just unlucky, but two late appointments and one totally missed appointments was enough for me to question the service in general. To their credit, they were very apologetic and also offered a discount on future orders, but I'm not sure I want to try again. The final tally was about $38, but that was after a $20 discount due to the problems I had -- without the discounts, that was $24 for the wash and fold and $36 for the laundered shirts -- $60 for 25 t-shirts and polos and a dozen laundered shirts.

If you want to try the service for yourself, you can use my code, wisemam146h022, to get $10 off. I hope your experience is better than mine.

Friday, June 27, 2014

New Safeway at Georgia & Randolph is open, and they sell beer and wine

At long last, the new Safeway in the condo building at Quincy and Randolph is open, a few blocks north of the Georgia Avenue/Petworth Metro. The store has been under construction for some time, and even had a funny electronic countdown timer. Today that timer is at zero, and it's open.

There was a ceremony today which my friend said had some military people and guys in suits, kind of odd. Inside the place looks nice, my friend described it as much nicer than the Columbia Heights Giant, but not quite as nice as Whole Foods or Wegman's. There's wood flooring in some places and a big produce section too.

And they also have a big beer and wine selection, including a local section, despite some people's complaints. Nice to see that.

I'm fairly excited about this, as it's really the only grocery store between Park Road and Takoma, as far as I know. (There's also the Yes! Organic Market near Georgia and Taylor but that's fairly small and specific.)

If you recall, this Safeway replaces one that was closed a couple of years ago in the same area.

They're open 5am-Midnight every day.

Photos by Vicky

New yard sale map and finder:

If you're into yard sales, like me, you probably troll Craigslist towards the weekend to see what's going on. Craigslist does have a map, but it's not super thorough and some of those "sales" are really just a person selling one or two things.

But here's a new site: (as in garage sale-r) with a map and a fair amount of listings -- more than Craigslist. There are a few in our area this weekend, plus some farther afield. It's a nice interface too.

Check it out! And if you're having one, put it on there!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Acre 121, Lou's City Bar open for US vs Germany soccer with deals

If you like soccer or just America, get to Lou's or Acre 121 for some deals and watching -- both will have TVs on the patio. Here's more info from them:
Lou's City Bar has $5 Heineken drafts/bottles/tallboys and $18 pitchers & buckets (5x), plus $18 Beers of Mexico buckets and $6 DC Brau The Tradition cans. They will also have 50 cent wings for the 4pm games. 
Acre 121 is opening especially for the game (we normally open at 5pm) and will have a limited lunch menu including pulled pork sandwiches, burgers, and sides.
Sounds like fun! 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Pretty funny: "Ivanabitch" vodka at Lion's

Here's something funny to start the day. Lion's Liquor store, the fancily renovated shop at 3614 Georgia Avenue NW has all kinds of things: growlers for beer, a wide liquor and wine selection, and more. The other day I spotted this Ivanabitch vodka -- as in "I want to bitch," presumably over some flavored vodkas. Pretty amusing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Petworth is top neighborhood for home flipping in the country

Our area has been a popular home-buying destination for a few years, and here's some surprising data behind it: Redfin, a real estate site, published a new report that says Petworth is the top neighborhood in the country for flipping homes.

Defining the neighborhood as the area north of Spring Road and Rock Creek Church Rd and south of roughly Emerson Street, the average flip netted $312,000, more than anywhere else in the country. (They define a flip as selling a house less than 12 months after buying it.) Other neighborhoods in the city make the top 20 too, with Brookland coming in 3rd and Ft. Totten and Stadium/Armory at 6th and 7th.

This could imply a superheated housing market, or people wanting to make a quick buck. Good for the sellers, I suppose, but maybe not good for anybody who wants to live there.

It's not all bad news though -- the site does report that total flips are down since 2012, and Columbia Heights, interestingly, isn't on the list. Maybe house prices are high enough that flipping doesn't result in that much gain.

Crane & Turtle, Japanese-French restaurant from Room 11 folks, opens today on Upshur

Last night I got a chance to swing by Crane & Turtle, the new Japanese-French restaurant coming from the team behind Room 11 and Petworth Citizen. Located at 828 Upshur Street NW, right across from the Citizen, it's a cozy room with 25 seats, including some at the bar like Room 11, and they plan to add 14 patio seats shortly.

Chef Makoto Hamamura worked for the team at Hogo before, the tiki and tropical restaurant, but here he focuses more on his specialty of French and Japanese food. The snacks at an opening reception last night weren't necessarily all going to be on the menu, but one dish of tuna tataki on tempura seaweed was said to be similar to one of Hamamura's dishes, and was fantastic. The restaurant's menu they sent me included starters like a shaved octopus and fennel salad, appetizers like pork cheek ramen and soft shell crab tempura, entrees like artichoke on Japanese potato gnocchi, plus others with duck, striped bass and steak. Entrees are $18-$26 and there are a fair amount of vegetarian dishes too. It all sounds pretty awesome to me.

As for drinks, they don't have a lot of space for cocktails but will be focused on wine, sake and Japanese whiskey. Bar manager Kristi Green, who also manages the bar at Petworth Citizen, says she'sworking to bring in some rare whiskies from Japan. Other Room 11 alums are involved too -- Angelina Dirina will be manager and Nick Pimentel is the designer.

They'll be open only for dinner, from 5-10pm on Sunday and Tuesday-Thursday and 5-11pm on Friday and Saturday, and closed Monday.

The space itself is white and subtle, with a few plants and other decorations, a lot like Room 11's first room too. I feel like that fits the Japanese vibe. One interesting touch is an old dairy bottle -- operating partner Paul Ruppert said they found a lot of old bottles and other artifacts as they were building the place. The name comes from a Japanese folk tale and also the chef's family -- his mother was given the Japanese name Crane and her twin was Turtle.

I'm definitely looking forward to the spot. It seems like Upshur is getting to be a good location for restaurant and bars -- nothing crazy, just nice spots like Domku, Petworth Citizen and now Crane & Turtle.

Monday, June 23, 2014

New yoga studio at 3506 Georgia Ave NW: Yoga Heights

If you like yoga, there's a new option: it looks like Yoga Heights has opened at 3506 Georgia Avenue NW, near Newton. They have a nice space, I walked past the other day -- a big room in one of the new residential buildings there.

The spot gets positive Yelp reviews, and seems like a good location considering most other yoga places are on 14th or in Mt. Pleasant.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Creme restaurant, formerly on U Street, reopens July 1 at 14th and Belmont

Just when it seems like northern Columbia Heights was getting some more development, southern Columbia Heights gets into the act too. Creme Restaurant and Bar, a casual fine dining place known for their brunch, is opening July 1st at 2438 14th St NW. That's the Capitol View apartment building.

They used to be on U Street near 13th but closed when the building went under renovation. The spot got a lot of good reviews for brunch items like chicken and waffles, and I'm glad to see another restaurant coming to that area -- especially for brunch, since most brunch spots are around 11th and 14th and Park. It seems like that part of the hood is heating up too with spots like Kapnos and the sandwich shop G by Mike Isabella opening last year. There's also Streets Market, which I have been meaning to check out.

This is also good, as it seemed like the retail spots in a lot of those new buildings were taking a while to fill up. Glad to see some progress. 

Austin Royster Funeral Home at 14th and Quincy to become condos

There will be more residents coming to the area around 14th and Spring: the Washington Business Journal reports that the Austin Royster Funeral Home at 3821 14th Street NW will be converted into nine condos. The building was bought last year by S2 Development.

By my count, this brings to three the number of new condo and apartment buildings coming to that area -- the 20 condos (and 7-Eleven) coming to the site of the burned sketchy hotel at 14th and Qunicy, and the apartments coming to 14th and Spring, wrapping around the corner store.

It seems like northern Columbia Heights is getting busy -- if you recall, Lyman's Tavern just opened a few weeks ago too.

Now if we can only get Bacon Funeral Home to do something with their concrete block abomination farther south. It's sad unfinished and abandoned for years.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Some nice heat lightning last night

 This isn't my finest work as a videographer (plus my phone autocorrected heat to "hear"), but last night's storm provided some impressive light displays due to heat lightning. There wasn't much rain (or any as far as I could tell) but there were some power outages in the neighborhood -- folks reported areas south of Lamont and on 13th near Fairmont to be out.

New Salvadoran and Mexican spot, Ana's Restaurant, opens at Georgia and Keefer

If you like Salvadorian or Mexican  food, there's a new option. Ana's Restaurant opened on Friday at 3311 Georgia Avenue NW, between Keefer and Irving. It's a little hole in the wall joint and they're still working on getting their menu up on the wall (they said it'll be up in two weeks) but they have traditional dishes like tacos, pupusas, burritos and the like.

I didn't get a chance to go, but I plan to soon.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Conflict at Meridian Hill Park drum circle: gay dancer forced to stop dancing?

2014 06 15 - 2028 - DC - Meridian Hill Park

UPDATE: It's maybe not so straightforward. See the comments for this post, especially from "Alpha Master Pimp." (I think that's the first time I've written that in a blog post.) I've also heard from several friends who've seen the dancer before; one said "it's more of a crazy Ru Paul affectation than dancing" and another said he often dances at Metro stops.

Here's a potentially disturbing and homophobic story from this Sunday's Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park drum circle. Local resident Andrew Bossi tweeted that a man was dancing when a drummer told him to stop, that what he was doing was "erotica not African" (presumably because the dancer was homosexual) and told the dancer that dancing was no longer allowed. Some folks there protested and the man kept dancing, but the drummer stood next to him and followed his dancing to get him to stop, then said something quietly to him. Soon thereafter the dancer left. A woman later started to dance and the drummer didn't stop her.

Here's the full story, from Bossi's Flickr feed. You can see his photos in this post, above and below.
A gay man* (with large hair and a green shirt) took to dancing to the rhythms of the weekly drum circle in Meridian Hill Park / Malcolm X Park.

(* I'm making an assumption about sexual orientation here, but I feel pretty confident in my guess. I apologise for repeatedly singling this element out, but it is integral to concisely describing what followed)

As the beats wore down to a pause, another man with long dreads and a visor walked among the drummers collecting signatures, loudly announcing that such dancing would now be prohibited, I quote: "it is not African; it is erotica." 
This drew a mixture of support & opposition from drummers as well as audiencemembers. Swearing, insults, and anger soon followed, primarily sourced from the dreadlock man & a seated drummer wearing a white DC flag shirt and a number of colored arm bands -- these two leading the move against the dancing. The gay man protested peacefully, not raising his voice as he declared his right to dance.

I heard some protests, with several calling out "This park is for everyone". The man in the white shirt eventually gave up on asserting his position & began pounding away on the drums, sparking the next round of the drum circle and drowning out the issue.

The gay man once again took to the center, resuming his dancing. The dreadlock man immediately positioned himself directly beside the dancer, attempting to limit the movements. (Ed: seen above) Eventually the dancer gyrated toward the edge, at which point the dreadlock man moved around and stood directly beside as to block any easy movement back into the center. The dancer wasn't literally trapped in, he could walk out -- but he could not continue dancing without bumping into the dreadlock man.

The two had quietly exchanged words throughout this encounter, ultimately ending in the dancer stepping out of the center and to the side, visibly upset. The dreadlock man subsequently allowed a woman clad in traditional dress take the center & begin dancing, her moves just as provocative as the man's... but my takeaway was that in conforming with gender roles it was deemed "traditional" and therefore acceptable.

It was at this point I walked off, having other things to do in the day and wanting to have no more part of this vitriol other than reporting and documenting the incident.
2014 06 15 - 2017 - DC - Meridian Hill Park 2014 06 15 - 2025 - DC - Meridian Hill ParkI don't have the drummer's point of view, or the dancer, but this seems absurd to me. The entire point of the drum circle is to let people express themselves.

This man was dancing, like many others do at the drum circle. The drummer had no right to make him stop, especially if he did so only because of what he presumed the dancer's sexual preference to be. I'm surprised more people didn't stick up for him.

Below is Bossi's tweeting of the incident and a  responses, plus two more photos.

I hope this sort of thing doesn't happen again, and that folks who come next Sunday won't allow it. Everybody should be able to dance.

Another wacky commuter in the neighborhood: guy on a Segway

A couple of years ago I regularly spotted a guy riding a Razor scooter down 14th Street in the mornings -- I thought that was interesting and a little funny, but hey, more power to you, guy. He's saving money and getting some exercise on his morning commute.

Then the other day I spotted a guy in a suit riding a Segway down 14th in the morning, presumably on his way to work. I didn't get a chance to take a photo but tweeted it, and got a couple of responses who've seen the same suited, hat-wearing guy for some time. Maybe because he had a suit and no helmet, he didn't look like as much of a goofball as fanny-packed tourists and DC cops who ride Segways -- though I'm not sure I'd recommend no helmet on 14th Street.

Just another interesting thing about our neighborhood -- you always see something unusual.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Introducing the Georgia Avenue Bus Bar Crawl: get some drinks and check out some new places

Do you like bars? Do you like exploring? If so, here's a fun way to check out some new places while having some drinks with your friends: the Georgia Avenue Bus Bar Crawl. The idea is that you take the Metro to Silver Spring, hit a few bars there then hop on the Georgia Avenue bus (70 or 79) and stop at bars and restaurants that serve alcohol along the way. You try to have one drink before the next bus comes (using Nextbus or a similar app or website) then hop back on and ride down to the next spot.

The nice thing about the bus crawl is that within two hours you get a free bus transfer, so you only pay a couple of bus fares, depending on how efficient and speedy you are.

I also recommend getting some food along the way. You'll probably need it.

So without further ado, here's how our test run went. My buddy Brian came up with this idea last year but I saw a similar, also funny idea (the 70 Bus World Cup Bar Crawl, happening Tuesday) so I wanted to make sure he got full credit for his idea Of course, you can pick and choose any venue you'd like along the route, these are just the ones we hit on our trial.

The Crawl

After hopping off the Metro in the wilds of Silver Spring, Maryland, we headed to Quarry House Tavern for our first stop. Quarry House is a neat, divey place (it's literally underground) owned by the same folks who own El Chucho -- a nice connection to our neighborhood. The place has a lot of beers plus tasty burgers if you need to start out with some food -- but to be closer to the crawl idea, I'd suggest eating before meeting. We had a beer there, chatted with the bartender who didn't think our idea was very funny, then walked to the next spot we could find. Silver Spring has a few bars in close proximity.

The next place we planned to visit was Piratz Tavern, the pirate-themed bar where people in pirate gear serve up grog and such (plus beer and food.) However, we were testing the bar crawl on a Sunday, when Piratz is closed. Whoops. Piratz, if you recall, was on the TV show Bar Rescue, where an expert comes in to save a failing bar. The place was losing tons of money and the show changed the concept completely to the Corporate Bar & Grill, but the pirates banded together and revolted, changing it back to the original pirate material. That said, it's reality TV, so who knows.

After Piratz, we walked a little bit to Jackie's/Sidebar, another spot owned by Jackie Greenbaum of El Chucho fame. Jackie's is a restaurant while Sidebar is an adjoining cocktail bar, so we opted for that. In this case the staff and customers loved the bus bar crawl idea and gave us a lot of suggestions for where to go next. I got a really tasty cocktail, though in the intervening months I forgot what it was. It was a nice spot, and I hope to go back soon.

Our next stop just down the road was a place we weren't familiar with, Fire Station 1 Restaurant and Brewery. Located in what was the Silver Spring Volunteer Fire Department, the spot brews their own beer and has a big patio and wide open inside -- it was a firehouse after all. However, on this Sunday they seemed to be out of all of their own beers, so we got something else. This also began the bus portion of our trip via bus into DC.

Into the District: Hunger Sets In

This also took some detective work. We weren't familiar with this part of town, and the folks we chatted with along the way in the previous bars weren't either. Doing some Googling, there were two restaurants, El Tamarindo and Silver Sands near Georgia and Geranium, just north of the closed Walter Reed Hospital, but for whatever reason we didn't go there.

Our next stop then was Haydee's at Georgia & Sheridan. If you recognize the name, you're right, it's the same folks as the popular Haydee's in Mount Pleasant. Being that we'd had 4+ drinks and no food, we decided to stop and eat here, and the food was much the same as the MtP location -- cheesy goodness.

After Haydee's we walked across the street and half a block down to Serengeti, a thoroughly sketchy little bar. The place had a basement bar with a low ceiling and some kind of dance floor upstairs, and even though it was mid-afternoon, the place was odd. The bartender was friendly and said she had just started there a few days ago while a weird dude sat with another waitress at a table, the only other customers there. We got our drink and got outta there.

Petworth and Park View: Options

Our next bus leg was a little disappointing -- Moroni Brothers and Fusion, the great pizza and Indian places in Petworth, had closed, and we chose to skip Macombo Lounge, a strip club, so we went to Chez Billy next. (Since our test run last year, Simple Bar & Grill has opened at Georgia and Military, and I've heard good things.) Chez Billy was fun, there was some kind of jazz night going on and we had a nice drink.

For some reason that I don't recall, we skipped the places on Upshur, maybe because they were technically on Upshur and not right on Georgia Avenue. If we hadn't, Domku would be a good option, plus Petworth Citizen (and depending on when you go this year, there may be more options open by then.)

Being that we were only about halfway into our crawl if we chose to hit all the spots around the Georgia Avenue Metro and to the south, we decided to skip the Looking Glass and DC Reynolds, as we'd been there a zillion times. Of course, you are free to choose which spots you'd like to hit. Part of the idea for the crawl was to go to new spots, hence Silver Spring and the places like Haydee's and Serengeti. Even if we wouldn't go back, it's an experience.

So given that, next we stopped into the Mothership. The bartender here thought the bus bar crawl idea was hilarious, and we had a couple drinks until the next bus came. At the time, Bravo Bar hadn't opened, but we would have stopped there. Instead, we decided to head to U Street for a final drink as it was getting late. Other options along southern Georgia Avenue are the always fantastic Mama Chuy at Georgia and Fairmont and Dulcinea next door (which I haven't been to yet.)

So we rode on to U Street and walked over to the Brixton as a nice rooftop place to end our crawl. You could continue on into downtown or hit the new Shaw spots on 6th Street, but then it wouldn't technically be the Georgia Avenue bus bar crawl, no? We were sticklers on this test run.

The Result & Recommendations

In short, we had a good time on the crawl -- all the way from Silver Spring down to U Street, mostly by the 70 bus with a small amount of walking. We saw some new spots, spent maybe $5 on transportation, and visited a lot of places we hadn't been -- both alcohol spots and neighborhoods. There are some nice, leafy areas up there. Who knew? (Ok, probably lots of people, but not us.)

I'd recommend Saturday or Sunday as the best days to go and try to start as close to noon as possible. Eating somewhere along the way is probably a good idea, and if you have a big crew, splitting up may is a good option due to people drinking at various speeds -- they said, the idea of a big crew piling on the bus is a pretty fun one. But in short, have a good time and make the bar crawl yours! And let us know if you'd suggest other good spots on Georgia to hit next time around.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Meeting Tuesday night on the redevelopment of the old Hebrew Home on Spring Road

In case you missed it, there are some plans to reuse the large former Washington Hebrew Home at 1125 Spring Rd NW -- the idea is the make it 70-80 units of affordable housing, aimed at people making up to about $65,000 a year (I calculated $68k while Park View DC said $63k.)

Park View DC reports there will be a public meeting to gather comments on Tuesday at the Petworth Library. The "surplus resolution" refers to the city transferring it to the DC Housing Authority, which will do the renovations and operate it. The idea is that it would be finished in 2016 or 2017.

Some folks in the comments on my blog have expressed concern about the building bringing in lots of poor people, while I think it seems like a good thing -- this is a nice, old building that's been empty for years. I even called it one of the spookiest buildings in the neighborhood. Why not put some residents in it?

It sounds like this meeting will be a good opportunity to have you voice heard on it.

Here's the building:

  Old Jewish Home on Spring Rd

Check out this funny dog on the table at Wonderland

I see you table dog

I was at Wonderland on Friday night, always a good time, and I spotted a few pooches running around -- one was under a table and barking at other dogs, and this funny wall-eyed guy was hanging out on the table.

I tweeted the picture and some folks made jokes about health code violations, but this doesn't bother me. In fact, I think it's pretty funny -- and he looks kind of sheepish about it. "Sorry I'm on the table, should I not be doing this?"

Friday, June 13, 2014

Here's where to watch the World Cup in the neighborhood!

The World Cup is upon us, which means lots of folks will be looking for places to watch, eat and drink. Luckily our neighborhood has a lot of places that will be showing games and offering deals -- here's a list I've collected, but if I missed any, let everybody know in the comments.

  • Kangaroo Boxing Club is opening early for noon games and will have $3 PBR tallboys and $12 buckets, plus extended hours for food
  • The Coupe will be showing every game. No deals listed. Could be good for folks working from home or off during the week.
  • The Pinch is showing every match, plus opening early for USA-Germany. They have lots of food and drink specials too like $5 bourbon-based "All-American Punch" for US matches, plus a $12 All American BBQ platter: Wings, Rib Tips, Fries, Cole Slaw
  • Kapnos, the Greek restaurant at 14th and W, has special $9 cocktails at the bar during games and $5 Pilsner Urquells
  • G by Mike Isabella, the sandwich spot next to Kapnos, will be showing the noon and afternoon games
  • Looking Glass is adding some TVs to facilitate more soccer watching, to go with their usual good deals
  • Mama Chuy, the great taco spot on Georgia, is offering $3 beers and $6 margaritas
  • Meridian Pint has lots of TVs and is showing all the games, opening early for noon games
  • Lou's City Bar has Heineken specials during the games
Another option for a more World Cup-ish experience would be the many Latin American bars and restaurants on 14th Street between Park and Quincy -- Honduras is in the tournament this year and a lot of places on that strip are selling national team jerseys. Even before then, there are definitely some Hondurans in the area -- I bought a club team jersey on the street and later some folks recognized it and commented on it. I bet the bars and restaurants are going to be packed and a lot of fun during Honduras games, which start June 15.

Any other suggestions? Leave them in the comments.

More bike racks needed outside the Red Derby/Lyman's

Bikes outside the Derby

 Last Saturday I went to check out Lyman's, the new bar next to Red Derby (a cool spot, more on that later.)

However, I was amazed by the sheer number of bikes parked outside the two bars on 14th between Spring and Quincy: there were at least 20, locked to all manner of things: streetsigns, those metal tree box things, and other things I couldn't even recognize. Considering these two bars, and the coming apartments at 14th and Spring and the condos at 14th and Quincy, there's only going to be more foot traffic in the area -- I think the city should put in some racks. I'll write them as well.

The dancing silver robot guy on 14th Street: yay or nay?

A few times I've seen and mostly ignored the guy who is painted silver and dances on a box at 14th and Irving -- he's sort of unusual. He dances to music coming out of a boombox, but I feel like half the time he's just standing or talking with somebody, or sort of half-assing it -- the other day I passed him and he was kind of dancing to Michael Jackson's "Remember the Time" while drinking a Gatorade. It was pretty funny.

So what do you think? Cool guy or no? I think he adds some interesting local flavor, and I suppose he's better than the Black Hebrew Israelites who yell crazy stuff outside the Metro on their megaphones.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

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“Owning A Piece of the City: A First Timer’s Manual” is a FREE seminar that caters to the specific questions and needs of first time home buyers. 

We all know the real estate world can be frightening, especially if you’re preparing to buy your first home in the city. During this interactive workshop you will interact with an experienced lender and real estate professional that will provide you with the ins and outs of navigating the DC Marketplace. 

 This event will be located at the DCRE Residential office (1405 Rhode Island Ave NW Washington, DC 20005) on Saturday June 21, 2014 from 12-2pm. It will be hosted by DCRE Residentials’ own, Trish Ofori, and our loan officer partner Alex Jaffe, form First Home Mortgage! 

Complementary refreshments are also included. 

All you have to do is RSVP to the Eventbrite posting here:

Hurry…space is limited. We really hope to see YOU there!

by Trish Ofori

Yuh oh -- attempted bank robbery around 10 am at Wells Fargo on 14th

I don't usually write about crime, but this is unusual and just happened -- a friend snapped this picture at the Wells Fargo at 3325 14th Street NW, and a policeman there told her it was an attempted bank robbery. Via Twitter, MPD said there was a black male suspect running west down Monroe Street NW, though their block number on 14th Street must be wrong.
Pretty strange -- it's the first time I've heard of this in the neighborhood.

What's the best street food in Columbia Heights?

The other day I was walking down 14th Street near Parkwood and spotted a lady selling snow cones outside Chickas. It was hot so I went for one, and was pleasantly surprised -- as well as a lot of flavors, she had some tasty strawberry flavored syrup with actual strawberries in it, and it was pretty great. That got me thinking: what's the best street food in our neighborhood?

So I put together this little poll of all the ones I can think of -- the street corn lady who is spotted about 14th Street, the aforementioned snow cone lady, the guy who sells coconuts and other stuff near the Red Derby, who cuts the coconut with a machete, the lady who sells fruit in plastic bags, often with hot sauce, the snow cone guy who pushes the little cart around, and the hot dog stand outside DCUSA. (And an option for "other" in case I'm missing any.)

So vote for your favorite! And leave your suggestions, opinions or folks I missed in the comments!

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

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Yikes! Car crashes into construction hole on Park Road NW

A reader just sent this in with the email subject: #ThingsYouSeeInColumbiaHeightsOnAWednesdayNoon. Sucks for these people.

It appears the car crashed into a construction hole that had been covered by one of those big metal plates on Park Road NW near 13th Street. I'm asking for clarification if the hole was uncovered at the time or how this actually happened, but suffice to say I'll be careful around those things if I see one.

Let's hope nobody was hurt and there's not too much damage to the car or the street. It's also kind of funny how everybody is just standing around: "oh, ok."

Parade to celebrate Pride tonight starting at the Civic Plaza, followed by events at Wonderland

This sounds like fun -- the folks behind Church Night DC, who do a tongue in cheek comedy/music night including "tots-n-shots Communion" the second Wednesday of every month at Wonderland, are hosting a celebration for Gay Pride Month -- a parade starting at the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza (14th/Park/Kenyon) followed by Church Night "services" at Wonderland.

Here's more details from the Church Night Facebook page.
Blessings and Light! June is Gay Pride month and the Lord wants us to rejoice in it! We're celebrating by starting off this service with a CHURCH NIGHT PRIDE PARADE!!! 
At 6:45, meet us in Tivoli square in your rainbow inspired couture. Bring your musical instruments, signs with your own "God Loves the Gays!" slogan, and all of your friends because we want to shake up the neighborhood and let our voices be heard! At 7:15pm, we will walk down Kenyon St. to Wonderland for one of the best Church Night services ever! 
Guest ministers include:
Special Music by Frankie & BettyWitness to Faith by GiGi Holliday
Children's Comedy by Matty Litwack
Benediciton Rock and Roll by The Sea Life 
Pew Seats $9.99/ General Admission $4.99
Parade 6:45pm. Doors 7:30pm. Service 8pm.
Shots-n-tots Communion. Sing-a-long Hymns. 21+
Update: the "Children's" comedy is in quotes, and there will be some burlesque too, so not for the kiddies.

First traffic signal study in 10 years underway -- hopefully will help 14th Street

Readers of this blog (and Twitter) will know that the traffic on 14th Street drives me crazy -- in the mornings it's sometimes backed up from Irving to Spring Road (like pictured at right), and it's not so great during other parts of the day either -- there's often backups around DCUSA.

It turns out the city might be working on it -- especially since the last study on traffic signal timing was done more than 10 years ago. Considering how much has changed in Columbia Heights since then, with much more traffic, residents and shoppers, it's about time.

A few weeks ago I emailed incoming Ward 1 councilmember Brianne Nadeau about the traffic and she said she'd get right on it. Soon thereafter she said she talked to DDOT, who said they're working on traffic signals in the city. Here's what they told her:
Traffic Signal Timing:
DDOT traffic engineers are now working on a major overhaul of the District’s coordinated traffic signal timings. The 5-year project is well underway, and DDOT has already implemented small changes at nearly 600 intersections to date. These small changes are Phase 1 of a critical first step in developing a solid foundation to enable more extensive changes to come in Phase 2 of the project over the next 3 years at all 1600 traffic signals in the District. This city-wide comprehensive signal retiming effort of this nature has not been done in over 10 years. DDOT’s goal for the project is to make DC traffic signals safer and friendlier for pedestrians, reduce traffic congestion, improve bus travel, and reduce harmful emissions.
Fingers crossed, and thanks to Nadeau for already getting to work on these issues! 

City wants comments on Georgia Avenue streetcar routes, meeting Thursday

It's been a little while since we've heard about the plans for the Georgia Avenue streetcar. Officially called the North-South Corridor, the idea is that a streetcar like the kind on H Street NE will go from near Nationals Park to Takoma. While the timeline is up in the air, especially after the DC Council voted to cut funding, the city is still pressing forward with plans, and they need your comments.

DDOT has proposed four routes, two going up Georgia Avenue and two up Sherman Avenue in our area, with various destinations and end points (click the map at right for a bigger version.) They're having a public meeting on Thursday form 4-7pm at the Emery Rec Center at 5701 Georgia Avenue NW.

The routes all have something good in them, though I would prefer the Georgia Avenue ones rather than Sherman, mainly because Georgia is a bigger street and a commercial corridor, and Sherman is not -- plus the city just finished a long streetscape improvement project for Sherman, which looks fantastic -- it would be silly to tear that up again. I prefer the first option, which is relatively straight as well, and the second, which pops over the 14th Street between about Thomas Circle and U Street, thus hitting all of the bars and restaurants in that area.

That said, one of the Sherman options ends near the Fort Totten Metro, while the rest end at Butternut Street or Eastern Avenue, not really near other transit hubs. Maybe they can include that end part on one of the Georgia routes.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments, but more importantly, go to the meeting on Thursday!

(h/t DCist)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Outdoor movie tonight: All the President's Men in Adams Morgan

So it's outside Columbia Heights, but it's close: All the President's Men, about Woodward and Bernstein and Watergate, is showing tonight in Adams Morgan at the Marie Reed field.

It's a great flick and there will also be snacks for sale from Pleasant Pops and goodie bags. Sounds like a fun time.

Here's more from their press release:
Our second film in the series, All the President's Men, starring a young Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, screens tonight. 40 years ago our country was obsessed with the Watergate scandal that forced Nixon to resign, but we thought the abuse of power theme of the film is still as important as ever with the Snowden saga in the news recently. 
Where: The plush new Marie Reed School Soccer field @ 18th and California Streets, NW
When: 30 mins after sunset, tonight, weather permitting. Check for cancellation info. Rain date is next Tuesday. 
What: The quintessential DC story of Washington Post reporters bringing down a President. This political thriller won 4 Oscars and has made AFI"s list top of 100 films. 
Why: Mandatory political education dressed up as entertainment. Plus Pleasant Pops will be there and some awesome screen printed goodie bags put together by Meeps and Violet Boutique will be handed out to early birds.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Newly renovated Pollo Campero donates $10k to Big Brothers Big Sisters & Central American charity

Well, this is a nice story to start your week. I got a press release that Pollo Campero, the Latin American chicken chain with a location at 3229 14th Street NW, has donated $10,000 to a few charities -- Big Brothers Big Sisters of the National Capital Area, which gives kids mentorship and friendship, CAFRED, a Central American educational development charity, and Big Brothers Big Sisters for an area near Richmond.

The restaurant has also been renovated and has a new sign (at right), which looks pretty nice -- though I do miss the silly cartoon cowboy chicken thing.

Pollo Campero, founded in Guatemala, is pretty darn tasty. It's also super popular south of the border -- there's a big one right near the main airport in El Salvador and tons of people coming to the US buy big bags of it to bring back. It's basically an additional carry-on there.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Today is National Donut Day; go eat donuts

For some reason, today is National Donut Day. While I usually think these national ____ days are bogus, this one involves donuts so I'm in favor of it (plus this one actually has some history.)

So where can you get donuts in our area? Dunkin Donuts at 14th and Fairmont is giving away a free donut with beverage purchase while supplies last, so you had better get there.

Sticky Fingers on Park just east of 14th also has vegan donuts, though they aren't giving away freebies. However, they look pretty fantastic (see the picture at right, that's from today.)

7-Eleven has donuts too, but in my experience they're often stale.

That's all I can think of, do you know of other donut options in Columbia Heights or nearby?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Argentine and Uruguayan tango shows open this week at GALA Theatre

If you like tango, or just are interested in seeing some experts do their thing, check out the GALA Theatre starting this week at 14th and Park.
GALA Theatre's latest production, Puro Tango 2, opens this Thursday! Join us for opening week festivities and save:

Thurs, June 5 at 8 pm - Opening Night! $15 Community Night Ticket*

Friday, June 6 at 8 pm - Date Night! $20 Tickets*- Bring a friend!

Other Special Events

Sat, June 7 Noche de GALA and Press Night at 8 pm. Mingle with the artists, director, designer and crew after the performance. Purchase your ticket now!

¡MiĆ©rcoles de milonga! Dancing after the show! Wednesdays, June 11 and June 18 at 8 pm.

For more information and reservations, visit the web site or call 202-234-7174.

*To receive your discount ticket, you must mention special at time of purchase.

GALA Hispanic Theatre
3333 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20010

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tonic abruptly closes, to be replaced by Goodall's Organic Bistro

Well, this is a surprise. After 10 years, venerable Mt. Pleasant bar and restaurant Tonic (along with Last Exit, the cocktail spot inside) has closed. They posted on Facebook on Monday that they were closed, and it seemed to be a total surprise to folks who worked there, at least according to some former staff I know posting on Facebook. Apparently the location had not been doing well, which jives with what I've seen -- there didn't seem to be very big crowds for some time. The other location of Tonic, in Foggy Bottom, will remain open. That one always seems packed.

But the space doesn't look to be dormant for long: the 42 Bus reports that Goodall's Organic Bistro, a family-friendly restaurant with a rotating menu of locally-sourced food, will replace it. MtP resident Will Warren is the owner, and he'll be advised on food by Dave Duffy formerly of Great Sage and Danielle Sharkey from Tabard Inn and Girard's, and Nick Pimentel from Room 11 will advise on interior design.

Here's what Tonic had to say on Facebook:
To our wonderful patrons:
After ten great years, Tonic of Mt Pleasant (and Last Exit) has closed.
Thank you for all your support over the years.
Please join us at Tonic at Quigley’s located at 2036 g street NW
And here's what Goodall's has to say about their plan, in an email to the 42 Bus:
Goodall's Bistro will feature a seasonally rotating menu of the freshest foods from locally sourced organic farms, and free range ranches in the Mid-Atlantic region. We will serve dinner seven days a week from 5-10pm, and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am-3pm, with the option of expanding our services down the line.

Our drink menu will highlight organic spirits as frequently as possible, craft microbrew beers from our region, and a phenomenal wine list recommended by the top Wine Director in the city. While emphasizing a healthy approach to food, we would be remiss if we forgot to include scrumptious desserts in our mix. Despite having a slightly more refined menu, Goodall's promises to still celebrate the gregarious, family-friendly nature of this wonderful neighborhood.
What do you think? I'm sad to see Tonic go, but I must admit I hadn't been in years probably. Goodall's sounds interesting.

Georgia Avenue Task Force, DDOT streetcar meetings on Monday; also minutes, more happenings

There's a lot going on this week! Sylvia Robinson of the Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force has updates on a meeting about streetcars, the most recent Ga. Ave meeting, and more:

The next meeting of the Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force will be Monday June 9th at 7:00pm – location TBA.
In Other News:
DDOT Public Meetings
The final public meeting in this area for DDOT’s public transportation improvements in the north-south corridor will be: Monday, June 9, 2014 from 3:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m with presentations at 4:00pm and 7:00pm at the Banneker Recreation Center 2500 Georgia Ave NW
Park Morton Discussion at Park View UNC Meeting
At the June 4th 7pm monthly Park View UNC meeting at the Park View Rec Center, representatives from DC Housing and the MPD are invited to discuss the Park Morton development and ongoing efforts to control crime, manage the property, and implement long-term re-development plans.
WOOK Radio Monthly Mixer
WOOK-LP Radio invites you to its FREE monthly mixer and small business networking event, 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 4 at Safari Lounge, 4306 Georgia Avenue NW in Washington.
Town Hall on Underage Drinking
The DC Prevention Center for Wards 1 and 2 is holding an Alcohol Town Hall on Underage drinking next week! at the Urban Village Community Center 3403 16th St. NW Tuesday June 3rd from 5-7pm.  Youth 12+ and their parents are invited

Monday, June 2, 2014

Oh snap, Lyman's Tavern opens tonight next to the Red Derby

If you're like me, you've been waiting hopefully for Lyman's Tavern to open up -- the rustic, relaxed neighborhood bar with no theme that's coming next to the Red Derby at 14th and Quincy. And today is that day -- they posted on their Facebook page that they're opening today, Monday at 6:30. The pinball machines are set up, and if you happened to get a wooden nickel from them for a free beer, you can redeem it.

Great to see, I'll definitely stop by soon.

Here's our preview of the bar from a couple weeks ago.

Freecycle free yard sale on Saturday

Here's a yard sale with a twist: everything's free. Freecycle is a website where people swap things with each other for free, and this Saturday there's a Freecycle Fete at the Civic Plaza (14th/Park/Kenyon). Here's more:

What: Freecycle Fete

When: Sunday, June 8th from 12pm-2pm

Where: Columbia Heights Civic Plaza/ Tivoli Square on the corner of Park & 14th (Columbia Heights)

Cost: Free

What’s Happening: Think of it as a garage sale where everything is free. Have stuff around your house you don’t need anymore? Bring it on down and set up “shop” on one of our tables. Looking for new treasures to furnish your pad? You’ll be sure to find them here. This is a chance to cleanse your closets without wasting what could be a friendly neighbor’s newest treasure. As if that wasn’t enough, we’ll have karaoke, pie eating contest, games, prizes, music (ahem- dancefloor, anyone?), and onsite food trucks.

More info and to RSVP: