Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Spring festival this Saturday at the Old Soldiers' Home

Spring is here (finally) and the Old Soldiers Home is holding a community festival to celebrate. There will be music, ballet, art, food trucks and local food vendors, games, crafts and art for kids, craft beer for sale, and more.

It should also be a nice time to explore the grounds, which are really beautiful, and also include President Lincoln's summer cottage.

Here's a full list of what's hapening. Sounds fun!

A *Free* Family Festival featuring the music of *Herb Spice & The Cinnamonstix and the vocal stylings of Cecily Bumbray *

*Saturday, May 2, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m*. on the lower grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C. (Enter gate at *Randolph Street and Rock Creek Church Roads NW*; for Navigation use 322 Rock Creek Church
Road N.W., Washington D.C. 20011)

*2 p.m. 60-minute Nature Walk guided by landscape architect Mary Pat Rowan and her husband Philip Blair (Meet at gazebo next to Soldiers Home pond)

*Local food vendors including Captain Cookie, The BBQ Bus, The Lemongrass Truck, and more...

*Craft Beer selections for sale

*Children's crafts with Historic Lincoln's Cottage, Kirov Ballet Academy, Creative Minds

*Face painting & body art

*Children's games

*Beautiful forecast ideal for hiking and biking on the lower grounds

*Friends of the Soldiers Home t-shirts available!

Celebration is a 10-minute walk from the Georgia/Petworth Metro stop on the Green Line; also accessible by H8 Metro bus; $5 charge per car for those who drive in; no dogs please

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Funk Parade is this Saturday on U Street

If you like having a good time, get yourself to U Street this Saturday for the second Funk Parade, a celebration of music (mostly funky) and the street itself.

Founded last year via Kickstarter, the event was a blast, with lots of crafts vendors, food, music and performers, plus the actual parade, which then was down V Street. They since have received a permit to take the parade itself to U and T Street from Florida Avenue to 13th Street.

The event this year has three parts: the "day fair" on and around U Street, the parade itself, and then a music festival at venues around the area.

The day fair runs from noon to 5 and includes all kinds of happenings on and around U Street: last year I bought a t-shirt, barbeque, saw graffiti artists, bands and performers and had tons of great people watching. There's also a ton of bands performing.

The parade itself runs from 5 to 7 with local high school marching bands, Batala Washington (an awesome women's drumming group) and if it's like last year, a generally fun and awesome vibe.

Then the music festival kicks off at 7 at an outdoor venue to be announced, plus lots of bars, restaurants and clubs around U Street and an after party at the Lincoln Theater with Trouble Funk and more.

The full lineup with bands is here, with more to be added.

Images from the Funk Parade's FB

Friday, April 24, 2015

New coffee shop and beer & wine bar open at 3118 Georgia: Colony Club (also with tinned seafood)

Folks looking for some pep or a drink on Georgia Avenue now have another option: a new spot called Colony Club just opened at 3118 Georgia Ave NW. It opened on Wednesday.

The name is a reference to owner Max Zuckerman's family, who used to own a flower shop on Georgia called Dave Zuckerman's Colony -- a pretty cool historical reference.

This spot used to be Mama's Southern Cuisine, a two-story space just south of Kenyon Street (the green building above, now painted white.)

They have all manner of coffee and espresso drinks with beans from Ceremony Coffee Roasters, plus craft beers, fancier beers (think Belgian style and other higher-end ones) and also a nice wine selection. The menu also says "spirits" but I don't see any, maybe they're working on that.

They have some food too: breakfast pastries and quiche plus bar snacks like almonds, olives, charcuterie and "tinned seafood" which is a new one to me: they'll have sardines, tuna and mussels, all served with bread, butter, herbs and lemon. I haven't seen that at a bar before, but it does sound pretty tasty.

Park View DC has some photos of the space, which looks very clean and modern, but cozy, and there's also a ping pong table upstairs. I could see having some beers and knocking around some balls.

They'll be open 7am-11pm Monday-Thursday, 7am-midnight Friday, 8am-midnight Saturday, and 8am-5pm Sunday, with the cafe functioning until 5 each day, then switching to the bar.

Here's the old flower shop from their website -- pretty cool.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Jim Graham wasn't messing around about the male stripper nights at The House

Jim Graham 1

A couple days ago, I was heartily amused by former Ward 1 councilmember's new gig: he's organizing and promoting male stripper nights at The House, the exotic dancer establishment at Georgia Avenue and Otis Place. He promised hot guys, both on "Rock Hard Sundays" aimed at gay men and a Thursday night event aimed at women. And the best part, the strippers would be wearing bow ties from Graham's personal collection.

It sounded like after his defeat in the last election to Brianne Nadeau, Graham decided to something fun -- like when somebody retires and takes a trip around the country or goes skydiving. But he isn't goofing around. To wit, his latest tweet is advertising gay porn star Eric Clark, who promises quite the show on Sunday. (I would not recommend you click the links at work, unless you work somewhere cool.)
It kind of looks like a tweet where you'd immediately say you've been hacked, but no -- that's the new gig. The first night was a fundraiser for the Whitman-Walker Clinic, and according to Twitter folks, it went well. (Also, how did I miss that The House has a Twitter too -- one which you should also definitely not click at work.)

More power to him, although some have noted the irony of Graham, who worked to shut down some bars and clubs in the ward -- he even had a word coined about it, Grahamstanding -- is now promoting a club.

But I'm glad he's keeping things interesting.

Photo by Adam Fagen

Wonderland's Sundress Fest is back for its 11th year on Sun. May 3

Wonderland, our neighborhood institution, has one of their big events coming up soon: the annual Sundress Festival, to be held on Sunday, May 3. The event is a fundraiser for the DC Central Kitchen, which fights hunger and a lot more.

The idea is that anybody who wears a sundress will get happy hour all day -- both dudes and ladies. You can bring your own, but they'll also have racks and racks of them for you to wear in all sizes, from the nice to the ridiculous. There's a lot of camaraderie, and it's a pretty funny sight to see that bartender who only seems to wear black t-shirts in a flowery little number. Here's Wonderland's page about the event.

Plus, happy hour deals. The atmosphere is great and it's one of those times when you'll probably see some neighbors or pals walking by or having a drink too.

The Wonderland Ballroom is at 11th and Kenyon.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Columbia Heights Farmers Market changes name, is back open again every Saturday

It's officially spring in Columbia Heights: you can wear short-sleeved shirts and the farmers market is back at the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza. Closed for the season, the Columbia Heights Farmers Market is open again, every Saturday from 9am-1pm. Get there earlier though, things start to run out at 1.

You might notice the name is different -- they were formerly the Columbia Heights Community Marketplace, but most people I know just called it the farmers market, and they have since adopted that on their Facebook page. It's easier to say, that's for sure.

The market, if you haven't been, has a nice selection of produce, meat, cheese, juices and bread, plus some crafts from local artisans. There's sometimes other food offerings too, like a taco vendor last weekend and Pleasant Pops, the popular local popsicle maker. Grab a coffee at Coffy Cafe or Sticky Fingers and check it out.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Jim Graham promoting male stripper nights at The House strip club on Georgia Ave; they will wear bowties

The other day somebody asked me what former Ward 1 councilman Jim Graham was up to, and I wasn't sure. And now the Blade tells us: he's working with the owner of the House, the strip club on Georgia Avenue, to organize and promote two weekly events: a Sunday gay male stripper night and a Thursday male stripper night aimed at straight women.

The gay night, called Rock Hard Sunday, has its premiere this Sunday the 19th, which will also serve as a fundraiser for the Whitman-Walker Clinic, which focuses on LGBT health issues. Graham was formerly the director of the clinic before running for Council.

Graham says he wanted to try something different and enjoyable, and points out that there aren't any strip clubs aimed at gay men in Ward 1. The Blade says the only one is Secrets in Southwest. He also says that Park View and the surrounding neighborhoods have a lot of gay residents, and he expects many people to walk.

On Sundays, there will be only gay bartenders and waiters. “It’s a gay night,” said Graham. “It’s not going to be a straight club pretending to be gay. It’s going to be gay, and I’m going to make sure of it.”

The House has been working to upgrade over the past few years, which interior and exterior renovations. It was pretty dingy before (I mean, so I hear.)

And as an amusing reference to his trademark bowtie, the Rock Hard Sunday strippers will wear ties from his collection.

“They are going to put them on and at some point they will dispose of the bow ties in the audience,” said Graham. “It’s going to be a lot of fun."

Sounds like it. More power to you, Mr. Graham.

Photo by Adam Fagen

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Vaping in bars and restaurants: yes or no?

E-cigarettes are popular these days, but the city doesn't have any laws about using them indoors. That got a friend and I talking: is it ok to smoke them indoors? Specifically, at bars and restaurants?

I don't smoke myself, so I'm not aware if any Columbia Heights places ban them, but I think Bravo on Georgia allows them (and that's only because I saw a buddy use one there months ago.) Madam's Organ in Adams Morgan, for example, bans them, but I can't find much about other places.

It's also legal on the Metro.

It doesn't really bother me, but then again I only see them in not too fancy bars. I think at restaurants however, you should just step outside -- you wouldn't want anything, even the funky sweet vape smell, to affect the food. My friend, however, thinks you shouldn't use them at all indoors.

What do you think, yea or nay? Have you seen them used in local spots?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Target food section is closed, employees taking food out of carts

This is odd. A reader wrote in at 1:45 pm today to report "Target stopped all food sales, packaged, kiosk, grocery, everything... at noon today. No explanation. Cashiers taking all food items out of carts." Other folks on Twitter posted the same thing.

PoPville reported something similar yesterday, but said it was back open. That doesn't seem to be the case. I would assume it's some kind of health department issue, will try to contact the store and find out.

If you were planning to shop for food today, you might want to try Giant, Streets Market at 14th and Clifton, or Harris Teeter.

UPDATE: I called the store, they said they weren't selling any food today and weren't sure about tomorrow, that I should call back. When I asked why, the woman said she didn't know, "they" just told her to say they weren't selling food. Odd.

UPDATE 2: WUSA's Russ Ptacek reports it was closed by the DC Department of Health due to the presence of rodents and insects and other pests. Gross.

UPDATE 3: The Post reports that the DC Department of Health found " a number of violations throughout the store, including rodent droppings in the back storage area." Not cool.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Five Below in DCUSA bans "student" during the day, groups of students in the evening

Five Below, the discount store on Irving in DCUSA, posted a sign in their window saying that "student" (sic) were banned from coming into the store from 9am-3pm, and that only 5 "student" (sic, again) could be in the store at one time from 3-7 pm.

Presumably kids were goofing around in the store, but it seems odd they can ban a group of people. They also had some typo problems on the sign, it should be "students" and there were some stray semicolons in there.

One would assume that kids should be in school from 9-3, though maybe some have early dismissal.

Twitter user Michael Hechter clued me into this weirdness.

Washington Wizards, Howard U. in talks to build a mixed-use training and practice facility

This is interesting -- the Washington Wizards NBA team are looking to build their own training and practice facility somewhere in the metro area, and they're in talks with Howard University to build it on their campus. Howard is trying to build more commercial and residential properties around their campus to help their finances.

The discussions are early, but one of their ideas is a mixed-use development that would include a training center for the Wiz. According to the Post:
[University President Wayne A.I.] Frederick said that although the discussions were in the early stages, he was interested in using the school’s real estate to help revitalize Georgia Avenue, bring the school revenue and add amenities that would benefit both students and the surrounding communities, such as a health and wellness center, a grocery store or new housing. 
“We’ve been talking to lots of people about different types of things,” Frederick said. “One of my goals at the university is to diversify our revenue streams and looking at real estate assets is a part of that.”
One idea with the development would be to include a health and wellness center with studios, classes and gym space for the campus and possibly new sports facilities, like a new arena for basketball. Their current arena is small and not in the best shape (in my opinion.)

The Wizards are looking to increase their practice space, as the Verizon Center only has one extra court. Other NBA teams are building their own practice and workout facilities, much like the Keller Capitals Iceplex in Virginia, which serves as practice space for the Washington Capitals but also a community hockey rink.

The Wizards training center would be publically financed, perhaps by taxes on any revenue created from it (though I'm not sure what kind of revenue a practice facility would generate.)

To me, this sounds like a great deal for Howard and the Wiz if the financing can be worked out -- Howard would get new facilities, like an arena and health and wellness center for students, the Wiz would get a new practice facility, and presumably the community would get to attend practices for the team.

The facility would be between 8th and Georgia north of W Street, shown in gray below. That area is mostly empty or unused Howard University buildings across from the Howard U. Hospital.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Free empanadas at Pollo Campero today at 14th and Park

Who doesn't like free food? Pollo Campero, the Latin American chicken spot located on the Civic Plaza (14th/Park/Kenyon) is giving away free empanadas today. Here's more info:
Your local Pollo Campero, the Authentic Latin Chicken restaurant, will celebrate National Empanada Day by giving away one of Latin America’s most popular dishes.  
Guests who visit the participating Pollo Campero restaurants on Wednesday, April 8 will receive a FREE hand-made empanada. Campero’s empanadas are made freshly every day with the restaurant’s famous chicken and Latin ingredients.
Sounds good to me. The spot was also recently renovated. It might also be a way to get your empanada fix since Julia's Empanadas on the Civic Plaza closed some years ago.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

New bar with American and French food, Washington Heights, coming to 14th and Spring

Looks like yet another new spot coming to the block of 14th Street NW between Spring and Quincy: Washington Heights Bar & Lounge. The city's DC Register included news that there's a liquor license application for the bar, which is coming to 3714 14th Street NW, two doors down from the Red Derby. That storefront used to be Quik Cash, a pawn shop of some kind, and before that was Salon de Belleza Union.

According to their application, they'll have American and French food and 42 seats.  I don't have more information than that, but it seems like a step up from the pawn shop.

And oddly, the salon that was open before Quik Cash was one of those where Google Streetview went into the business with their cameras, so you can actually look around the space. It's long and narrow, much like the 'Derb. Here's the info from the DC Register, the city's official list of licenses, permits and so on.

Columbia Heights Metro station manager gets into NCAA tourney, makes fun of Wisconsin

Last night was the NCAA basketball championship, with Duke triumphing over Wisconsin. A lot of folks in the area seemed to go to bars to watch the game, but one opinion on the game came from an unusual source: the Columbia Heights Metro station manager. And he didn't seem to be a big Wisconsin fan.

I heard from a friend (and saw corroboration on Twitter) that he made this announcement to the station after the game ended at about 11:45 pm. "Eat" seems to make more sense, but either way it's pretty funny. Keep doing you, station manager.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Radio Shack in DCUSA is closing, big clearance sale now

As part of a company-wide restructuring, the Radio Shack in DCUSA will be closing. There are signs on the store now, which also advertise a big clearance sale. Might be a good time to swing by to pick up a cord or phone charger.

The company had declared bankruptcy with plans to liquidate and close all the stores, but a hedge fund manager launched a plan to keep 1,700 of the 4,000 store open, but focusing more on places where the electronics market isn't saturated -- like, for example, DCUSA, which also includes a Best Buy and Target.

The remaining stores will mainly be in small towns and cities and will be focused more on things people can't wait for, like if they forget or lose a phone charger or hearing aid battery.

Photo by Jacqui

Post confirms Chick-Fil-A coming to DCUSA in late Fall

A few months ago we reported the rumor that a Chick-fil-A was coming to DCUSA: a Virginia store operator said it was going to happen. I reached out to the company a few times and didn't get a useful answer, but now it's been officially confirmed: the Post reports the company tells them they will open at location in late Fall.

They'll be taking over the old Lime Fresh Mex location next to Radio Shack (which is also closing, more on that to come.)

The company is also opening other locations in cities, like the Inner Harbor in Baltimore and 6th Avenue in Manhattan.

They're also offering free chicken sandwiches each time the Nats record a save at home and already give them away if opposing players miss free throws in the 4th quarter against the Wizards.

This is good new for lovers of their sweet fried chicken sandwiches, tenders, waffle fries and Polynesian sauce, though I've heard there are many who will refuse to go because of the company leadership's opposition to gay marriage.

I wrote up a list of LGBT organizations too, if you wanted to donate to them instead or in addition to eating at Chick-fil-A.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Whole Foods planned for Sherman and Florida!

Whoa! People in our area have been wanting Whole Foods for years, but now it looks like that might actually happen.

The Washington Business Journal reports that Whole Foods will be a tenant in a new development near Howard University at the corner of Florida Avenue and Sherman Avenue NW. The development is called the Griffith, and will include 370,000 square feet of residential space, including affordable units, and 50,000 square feet of retail.

We originally heard about this project about two years ago, when the store was originally supposed to be a Harris Teeter. Not much has happened since, though, due to some disagreements between developers and the city, but maybe this news means it will be underway soon. The address of the building is 975 Florida Avenue NW.

The building is being developed by MRP Realty and the JBG Companies, both big local real estate firms. JBG, if you recall, is the firm behind the hip-looking D-City newspapers that attempted to brand the 14th and U Street area "14th and Shaw." They also built Louis, Atlantic Plumbing, the Shay and other big buildings in the area.

But anyway, this sounds awesome. Folks have been asking and hoping for a Whole Foods for years -- when grocer Ellwood Thompson's pulled out of opening in DCUSA, the hope, and rumor, was that Whole Foods would open instead. That didn't happen, but now southern Columbia Heights, Park View and Pleasant Plains will have their own WF at which to shop.

The timeline is unknown for the project.

I'm pretty excited -- except, of course, that Whole Foods is also known as "Whole Paycheck" because it's not cheap. I guess I had better shop in moderation.

Here's one of the early renderings.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Sacred Heart Church's Good Friday procession is this Friday at 8 pm: costumed reenactors, music, more


If you've seen the neighborhood's Good Friday procession before, you're probably excited to know that it's that time again. Good Friday, the holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus, is tomorrow, and the Shrine of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church at 16th and Park holds an annual procession for it.

But that procession is not just a priest and some parishioners, it's a reenactment of the Stations of the Cross, the important points during the day when Jesus was crucified. There are people carrying statues and other artifacts and various people dressed like historical figures: Jesus carrying the cross, the Virgin Mary, the disciples, Romans, and so on. There's music and speeches and more (many in Spanish.)

The procession, which begins at 8 pm at Sacred Heart, goes in a circle down Park, 14th, Irving and 16th. It's a pretty interesting, impressive tradition, and is based on similar traditions common in Latin America, Spain and other Catholic countries.

These photos are from 2007 by Wayan Vota and I've written about it a few times before. Definitely worth seeing.




Slim's Diner applies for liquor license, looking to open this summer

I hope you enjoyed my April Fool's posts yesterday -- now it's back to the real stuff.

Slim's Diner, the much-anticipated new spot coming to the neat old Murrell Building at Georgia and Upshur, is making a lot of progress. They're documenting it on their Facebook page, and one of the biggest steps is now underway -- they've applied for a liquor license. They're aiming for a late summer opening.

The spot, if you recall, is owned by Paul Ruppert and co., of Room 11, Petworth Citizen, Crane & Turtle and Upshur Street Books fame. That crew is really turning Upshur Street into a bustling neighborhood hub, and they have some more plans too, like Bad Saint, a Filipino restaurant coming to 11th Street next to Room 11 (more on that soon.)

Slim's will have traditional diner food along with cocktails and beer -- sounds like a great brunch spot. A few months ago, they also held a survey collecting what people were looking for in decor, seating, and so on -- finding, for example, that most people didn't want TVs.

Slim's Diner is at 4201 Georgia Avenue NW. Here's the building from Google Street View.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

DCUSA parking garage to house luxury micro-unit condos

I've written a lot about the DCUSA parking garage -- Target and other big box stores demanded a large number of parking spaces before they would agree to open, which turned out not to be needed. After all, the complex sits on top of a Metro station and numerous bus lines, and people use public transit in DC.

Since then, it's been expensive for the city, who maintains it, and is often largely empty. There have been a few ideas for re-use, such as parking for local churches, for a Mt. Pleasant shuttle bus, for WMATA employees, for commuters, and so on. But for whatever reason, none of those took off.

And now we have another proposal: to convert part of the garage into luxury, micro-unit condos. The plan, from a consortium of New York and San Francisco developers, envisions 50 luxury units of 375 square feet, to be priced from $3,500 a month.

The units will include the current pipes, concrete and such as "industrial finishings" which will be renovated, polished or otherwise made to look more homey. Since there isn't much natural light in the garage (it's underground, after all) there will be an elaborate series of mirrors, much like the Egyptians supposedly did with the pyramids.

There will also be en-suite Keurig and Sodastream machines, delivery services for laundry, a private shuttle bus to H Street NE, and other amenities like a rooftop yoga studio that will be opened on top of DCUSA.

The units will have what is being called a state-of-the-art artisanal air filtering system to take out any toxins from car exhaust in the building.

There will also be several affordable units included; those start at $3,000 a month and have a separate entrance.

Target to start selling marijuana seeds, paraphernalia

Whoa, didn't expect this. After the decriminalization of marijuana in the District, Target has gotten into the act. I recently received a press release that the location in DCUSA will begin selling marijuana seeds and the paraphernalia associated with marijuana.

While the law says no one is allowed to sell marijuana, Target appears to be getting around that by selling the bag that the marijuana seeds come in, rather than the marijuana itself. This is actually how the Jack Daniel's Distillery in Tennessee is able to sell whiskey, as it is located in a "dry" county where alcohol is illegal -- they say you are buying a commemorative bottle, rather than the whiskey that is inside. I have been there, it is pretty cool.

I guess we'll see if this interpretation holds up, but the company is big enough that presumably they have lots of lawyers who have analyzed the issue.

In addition, the DC law states that no one under 21 is allowed to have marijuana, and no one is allowed to carry more than 2 ounces, so they are making sure not to sell more than that to any one person. However, with each friend you bring, you can buy an additional two ounces -- so if you are shopping with one person, you could buy 4 ounces, and so on. I hope this doesn't result in huge lines as people bring tons of friends shopping with them, the lines there are bad enough already.

The 2 ounces also only count as one item, so you could still use the express lanes.

They will also be selling marijuana paraphernalia in a special seasonal section, which is going to replace the Easter aisle. This will include paraphernalia like pipes, bongs, one-hitters, rolling papers, screens, black lights, Girl Scout cookies, Planet Earth DVDs, and those lights that change colors or whatever.

Banneker Pool opens May 25, to be operated by CrossFit and personal training gym

The Banneker Pool at Georgia and Euclid has an opening date, and there will be some changes this year. A San Francisco-based gym company, Intense Artisan Fitness, which focuses on CrossFit and personal training, will be funding improvements to the pool, in exchange for operating it.

The new venture will keep the pool free and open to the public for an hour a day, 9 am to 10 am every day. At other times, only members will be able to use it, with rates starting at $100 a month. Seems a little steep to me.

The name of the pool will change too, to Intense Artisan at Banneker.

The improvements will include full-time personal lifeguards, Crossfit fitness implements where the baby pool used to be, renovated shower rooms (which were getting a little grungy), waterproof USB ports, and a juice bar which will sell fresh juices like wheatberry and ginger, cucumber and lemongrass, and other ones designed to replenish electrolytes and nutrients. They start at $14. The company will also replace the missing diving board -- previously the second one was broken.

They will also offer classes, which are free for members and $50 for non-members, such as outdoor CrossFit, water yoga, and hot water yoga.

I guess we'll see if the fitness improvements make the changes worth it.