Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Burgers, Steaks and Music Coming to 14th and U

You may have heard rumblings recently of what's coming at the long-neglected corner of 14th and U streets. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Local 16's Salvatore Rosa to learn more about the plans for the building at the NE corner of 14th and U. Although negotiations for a voluntary agreement for liquor licenses for the two establishments (yes, two)--something that is always, as they say, "delicate"--he was able to share some details with me about the plans for the space.

According to Rosa, the basement of the building will be an as-yet-untitled "music and arts" space, which will feature a bar area as well as a performing arts space which will host live music as well as potentially other events, such as fashion shows. (This is not to be confused with the U Street Music Hall, a completely different venture from the ESL guys further down at 1115 U Street.)

Though there will be a bar space (separate from the performing space), Rosa is quick to point out that the venue is not a "nightclub". "There will be a bar, yes, but the focus will be on the performing arts space," he said. Rosa made a point of distinguishing the arts space from a 9:30 Club or Black Cat-type of venue. "We will have bands that perform there, but we also want to open it up to the community--as a practice space for local acts, for charity events and so forth."

Rosa and his team are currently negotiating a voluntary agreement with ANC1B commissioner Peter Raia. 14thandyou will be intrigued to see how this plays out; Raia heads up the ANC's Liquor License Committee and isn't typically confused with someone who is overly supportive of new alcohol licenses in the neighborhood. To that end, Rosa's insistence that the music space is not a "nightclub" may prove to be an important distinction. Although it's difficult to understand how a venture at the corner of 14th and U streets could disturb the "peace and quiet" of the neighborhood, it doesn't mean that some wouldn't try. (After all, apparently some move to the 14th and U area looking for a little peace and quiet.)

Rosa's team doesn't have a lease on the first floor of the building--that space hasn't been finalized, but it looks likely to be a bank--but he, along with Policy owner Omar Miskinyar, do have a lease on the top two floors, which they are looking to convert into an as-yet-unnamed restaurant focused on serving high-end burgers and steaks (the current working name, Cafe Society, is likely to change.)

The unnamed establishment, which Rosa indicated he hopes to have opened by July 2010, will be open Monday to Friday for dinner only, and Saturday and Sunday for brunch and dinner. The most striking feature of the establishment however will be on the third floor, will have a bar and roof deck--providing patrons with views of downtown Washington and well-known landmarks.

Rosa calls the concept "Retro Classic Steakhouse"--even if the prices aren't exactly retro. With burgers in the $16 range (and a wagyu beef and foie gras burger going for $22), this will very much be a contemporary DC establishment. Other items tentatively scheduled to be on the menu include classic steaks such as New York Strip and Hanger ($25 for a 12 oz. NY Strip, $21 for the Hanger), sides such as mac and cheese and mashed potatoes and a selection of appetizers and desserts.

Rosa indicated that the search for an executive chef for Cafe Society remains ongoing, but that they hope to have a decision soon. With an expected opening of July 2010, Rosa and Miskinyar are hoping to have their rooftop deck open for the 4th of July--which is sure to be a hot ticket on U Street.


A couple of other notes to pass along:

Next door to the Music Space/Bank/Steakhouse on U Street, another building is currently undergoing renovation. We've been told that the space is going to be occupied, at least in part, by a restaurant serving Jamaican cuisine. Though the build-out of the space is ongoing, details about the restaurant are scarce at this time.

A block down 14th Street, I learned from Rosa that the previously announced Table 14 has been delayed due to some structural issues with the building. While that's being worked on, the concept for the restaurant remains in development. Rosa recently learned that the space was previously occupied by the Ware's Department Store. According to the District's office of planning:

When it opened in 1915 at 1832 14th Street, NW,Ware’s Department Store was the city’s first African-American owned and run department store. Originally founded as a shoe store by Richard Ware, the specialty store was transformed into a department store as Ware recognized the community’s need for such an establishment.

That's what is so fascinating about the neighborhood--so many buildings have an interesting (and, occasionally, culturally significant) history. Rosa indicated that he's currently searching for ways to incorporate the "Ware's" theme into the restaurant's concept.

Monday, December 21, 2009

MPD Release Statement on Snowball-gate as (Inter)National Media Pick Up the Story

Greetings, fellow 14th and U-ers!  I hope everyone is enjoying the wintry festivities...which, near as I can tell, involve significant amounts of snow shoveling, driving either entirely too fast or too slow, and observing DC police officers brandishing weapons at a snowball fight.

Unless you've been living in an igloo during the past 24 hours, no doubt you've heard the story by now about the DC police detective who brandished his gun because his Hummer got hit with a few snowballs during yesterday's snowball fight at 14th and U streets.  There have been some conflicting reports about what precisely transpired, but here's the timeline of events as best we can distill them from the various media outlets now reporting this story.

It seems that the snowball fight, which was widely announced via Twitter and elsewhere (including, I noticed, DCist) was humming along quite well, with the exception of the quality of the snowballs themselves--powder snow doesn't pack, people.  (Unless you bring your watergun, in which case you are just not a very nice person.)  Some cars were hit with snowballs as they drove by, others were helped out of a snowy rut by some of the snowball fight participants (including, it seems a police car).  

But someone finally hit the wrong vehicle--that would be the Hummer driven by an off-duty MPD officer self-identified at the scene only as "Detective Baylor".  It seems Det. Baylor did not take too kindly to having his Hummer struck by some powdery snowballs, so he did what any right-thinking police officer might do:  he stepped out of his vehicle, brandished his weapon, and began threatening to make arrests.  Shortly thereafter, several other patrol cars showed up, apparently responding to reports of a man with a gun (ostensibly Det. Baylor who had not, according to any reports, identified himself as a police officer when he exited his vehicle.

The reason why Det. Baylor pulled his weapon was a matter of some dispute yesterday, until this video surfaced of Baylor angrily proclaiming that he had pulled his gun because he had "been hit with snowballs."  At least one person whom Baylor identified as having been the snowball hurlers were briefly detained and issued warnings

Clearly, this is some bad press for the MPD--and it has been drawing the attention of national news outlets, local blogs, and even international news agencies such as the BBC.  So how does the MPD respond?

By issuing a statement this evening acknowledging the officers who responded for "deescalat(ing) the situation quickly without incident or injury" and barely mentioning the fact that the off-duty officer pulled his weapon at all:

"The Metropolitan Police Department is looking into the circumstances involving the report of officers 'pulling their guns' on a crowd that had been throwing snowballs in the area of 14th and U Streets, NW.

On Saturday, December 19, 2009, an off-duty MPD member was reportedly operating his personal vehicle in the 1400 block of U Street, NW, when the vehicle was suddenly pelted with a barrage of snowballs. The member who was in plainclothes, stopped his vehicle to inspect for any damage that may have occurred. He then reportedly identified himself and went to investigate a crowd that had gathered as being the possible origins of the projectiles. Due to the number of individuals in the crowd and developing traffic conditions, the member called for assistance.

Arriving officers from the Third District responded to the scene for the report of a possible man with a gun incident unfolding at that location. Responding officers cautiously approached the scene as is protocol with a potentially dangerous assignment such as an armed individual, but at this time there is no evidence that they pointed any weapons in the direction of the crowd or at any individuals. Those officers were quickly able to ascertain that the individual in question was indeed a fellow sworn member and were able to deescalate the situation quickly without incident or injury.

The original videotape footage shown yesterday by a local media outlet did not appear to visibly show the off-duty member drawing his weapon during the course of his actions. However, the department has subsequently received additional images and statements that would seem to support the allegation that the off-duty member did pull a gun. The Metropolitan Police Department is intent on conducting a full investigation in determining all of the exact circumstances surrounding this incident.

The Metropolitan Police Department has truly appreciated the cooperation from the community as we all team together to tackle the many challenges encountered during these severe weather conditions."

Now, 14thandYou wasn't there for the fight, and we aren't in a position to take sides here. But there is documented proof that the Detective exited his vehicle and drew his weapon because he had been hit by snowballs. We can all agree that hitting any cars--particularly those carrying MPD officers--with snowballs shows very poor judgment. But does the MPD view the Detective's actions to be an appropriate response? Their statement merely re-states the obvious, so no clues can be drawn from that. Clearly, some at the scene were frightened enough to call the police regarding the Detective's actions. And so, we're left waiting for another statement by the MPD, including an official identification of the officer in charge.

What's interesting is that people are in near-universal agreement over how this situation could have been easily defused: either the officer could have simply continued on driving through. Or, he could have gotten into the spirit of a city that had ground to a halt in light of an historic amount of snow, gotten out of his vehicle, and hurled a few snowballs back. That is, if he could have found some snow of the non-powdered variety.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Homeless At Risk of Hypothermia

I hope everyone is enjoying the snow and staying safe. If you do venture out and happen to see someone at risk of hypothermia, please call the shelter hotline at (800) 535-7252. The hotline provides transportation to shelters with available space. For those who refuse transportation, hotline wokers will offer blankets and do their best to continue to check on the well-being of the at-risk person.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fear the White Death

Update 11:24 AM:  If you're reading this now, you're too late.  Godspeed.

Cover your children! The Capital Weather Gang is calling for anywhere from 7"-14" of snow this weekend to blanket our fair city. As a transplanted Ohioan, all I can say is "Wheeee!"

However, this is DC, and I have noticed that things are done a bit differently here. With that in mind, I present a few items of preparation which you should immediately embark upon in order to ensure the survival of yourself and your loved ones throughout the coming White Plague:

  • A foot of snow might create a mild inconvenience for those attempting to get to the grocery store. Thus, be certain to head out tonight and purchase ridiculously huge quantities of milk, bread and toilet paper. This will be useful for creating milk & TP sandwiches when your power goes off and all of your other food is destroyed.
  • Do you have enough batteries for your flashlight? Do you have a flashlight? Make a beeline for your local hardware store and purchase at least one flashlight for every room in your house, along with 2-3 spares. Then, purchase at least a dozen batteries of every type in order to ensure appropriate periods of light for the inevitable dark weeks ahead.

  • Do not, under any circumstances, expect to rely on candlelight for your home lighting needs during the coming storm. You will need to save your matches in order to ignite the pieces of flooring you will be ripping out in order to make a fire to stay warm. Pine flooring tends to burn quite well, I am told.

  • Have you noticed that people who live in hurricane-prone areas of the country tend to board up and/or tape their windows in advance of an approaching storm? You should do that too. We are, after all, talking about 7"-14" of SNOW, for god's sake. Who cares if you perceive no real risk to your home's insulated windows? The white death can attack in many different ways. Better to be safe than sorry.

  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, please head immediately to your nearest gas station and fill up your tank. For added peace of mind, bring along several gas cans and fill them up, too. After all, with a foot of snow expected, you never know when your local gas station might reopen--and you do not want to be stranded without an adequate supply of milk, bread and toilet paper when the White Death comes.
As for myself, my preparations will include ensuring that I have an adequate supply of Brooklyn Chocolate Stout, and a well-positioned seat on the sofa to watch Armageddon. Flashlights are nice and all, but beer is better.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What Was the Commotion on S Street This Evening?

Anyone walking along 14th or 15th streets at S Street between 7:30 - 9:00 pm this evening no doubt noticed the significant collection of police cards, ambulances, fire engines and other EMS vehicles surrounding S Street.

Based on reports we received at the scene, it seems that an individual was seen breaking into a car along 15th street this evening by a man and woman. The man gave chase while the woman called the police; police responded quickly but were unable to immediately apprehend the suspect, who broke into an unoccupied house along the 1400 block of S Street by crashing through a skylight, and climbed into a crawl space. Police, not knowing whether or not the suspect was armed, and unable to determine with certainty whether or not others were in the house, blocked off the street and broke through the back door of the house with a battering ram. At that point, they were able to successfully apprehend the female suspect.

So, yes...basically the response we witnessed this evening was the result of a breaking and entering. Borderstan has more details.

Image courtesy of Luis Gomez.

Third Thursday Tomorrow: Finish Your Holiday Shopping

If you're anything like me, you're probably just about ready to start thinking about purchasing holiday presents for this year. Or, perhaps you're almost finished and simply need to pick up a couple of gifts to complete your shopping.

Whatever your situation, tomorrow night is the Mid-City Third Thursday event, where you have the opportunity to shop late at local retailers along 14th and U streets. From 6p - 9p, stores along both corridors will keep their doors open, with many providing specials for procrastinators such as myself. For example, Rue 14 will have a live DJ on-site as well as a bin set up to take donations of coats for Martha's Table. At the other end of the spectrum, you can stop into Bang & Olufsen to enjoy a glass of champagne while browsing hideously expensive audio components.

For more information, visit the MCBA's website. See you out and about tomorrow evening.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Shaw Crime Meeting Yields More Finger Pointing Than Results

Howdy, folks. This is Mrs. 14th & You temporarily coming out of blogger retirement. (I’m on break from grad school and need something to do other than study for the two standardized tests I must take in the coming month.)

Last night Council member Phil Mendelson hosted a forum on crime in Shaw, which was attended by between 30 and 40 residents. Though Mendelson holds an at-large seat, he is concerned about Shaw because he chairs the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary. Also present were representatives of the Metropolitan Police Department, Albert Herring of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Ward Two Council member Jack Evans, ANC 2C Commissioner Kevin Chapple, and ANC 2F Commissioner Mike Bernardo. In the scope of city events, it was a small gathering, but a reasonable cross-section of stakeholders was in attendance.

Here’s the really quick summary of some of the solutions proposed by Shaw residents:

  • Anti-loitering laws
  • Assurances that criminals once caught will stay locked up
  • Accountability of public officials

And the really quick summary of Mendelson’s responses:
  • Anti-loitering laws have not proven effective in other jurisdictions, such as Richmond. In both DC and CA, anti-loitering laws have been limited by the courts so as to not infringe on the constitutional right to assembly.
  • The civil gang injunction legislation was poorly written and almost surely would have violated due process and individual liberties.
  • Current laws and mandatory minimum sentencing have not proven to be deterrents to crime.
  • Whether someone is convicted and incarcerated rests with the United States Attorney’s Office and judges. DC voters and elected officials have no say over U.S. Attorney or judge appointments.
  • He would like Fenty to reinstate the position of Deputy Mayor for Public Safety. Mendelson believes that it is the executive branch that has the greatest power to “knock heads” and hold others accountable.
  • A number of arrests do not result in indictments. Of the indictments that DC does get, a number of those suspects go free. Mendelson would like to study DC arrest, indictment, and conviction rates in order to determine why so many repeat offenders are free. He reports that he and Evans want to work to secure funding for such a statistical study.
Having now attended the meeting, I’m not sure why Mendelson would host it. Perhaps with an election year coming up he’s feeling pressure from Clark Ray, who this September announced his intent to challenge Mendelson. From statements made at the meeting, it also seems that some area residents and members of the blogosphere have been emailing him lately about their crime concerns. In any event, Phil Mendelson is known for having stated previously that there is no legislative solution to crime in Shaw. Yet, the City Council’s role in crime prevention is, by definition, legislative. This quandary did not miss residents. They wanted to hear that someone somewhere in the DC government could control the situation in Shaw and was going to try to do so. Residents requested that the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary subpoena the USAO’s office. (For the record, Mr. Herring states that his office is asked to testify all the time on proposed legislation and someone always appears or provides written testimony.) Another resident also wanted the Committee to lobby the feds to ensure a greater rate of convictions.

As much ire as Mendelson attracted from residents, Jack Evans should have garnered more for his obnoxious behavior. He used this meeting as a chance to dig into Mendelson for not supporting civil gang injunctions, though it sounds like the legislation as introduced was really poorly written. Evans also shouted down USAO representative Herring, demanding answers for crime in Shaw. Well, Mr. Evans, you came to the meeting with no solutions to the problem. How is a non-elected official with no control over funding, departmental coordination, the MPD, social services, or any other factor other than prosecution supposed to come up with an innovative answer in under thirty seconds? It was unfair petty politicking.

Something that was mentioned twice in the meeting, once by Evans and once by Mendelson, is that, though statistics show drops in crime citywide, even in Shaw, residents perceive a higher crime environment. This was not raised to challenge residents’ assumptions about crime, but rather to validate concerned residents. In my next post, I’ll go ahead and critically examine those assumptions because I’m not an elected official.

DC Council Votes for Same-Sex Marriage

Yes, I know this isn't a Logan/14th Street-specific issue, but this is a topic too big to pass up. This afternoon, the DC Council voted 11-2 to approve same-sex marriage in the District. With the vote, the District joins four states as jurisdictions where same-sex licenses can be granted.

Though we don't typically take stands on political and social issues, on this we're more than happy to express tremendous pride in the Council's decision, which once again shows the District to be one of the nation's most socially progressive enclaves. (As a District resident, I take no small amount of pride in the fact that the District has beaten states such as New York and California to the gay marriage alter).

So, in spite of some of the usual rhetoric from the likes of Harry Jackson et al about how this will certainly bring about the end of society as we know it, today is a day of celebration for many in the District.

*clink* *clink*

Monday, December 14, 2009

TONIGHT: Councilmember Mendelson Holds Crime Summit

DC Councilmember Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large), who chairs the DC Council's Committee on Public Safety will be leading a forum discussion on crime in the Shaw and Mt. Vernon Square neighborhoods this evening. The event will take place from 7 - 9:30 PM at the New Community Church at 614 S Street.

According to Mendelson: "The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss what the Council has done/can do to improve public safety in the Shaw and Mt. Vernon Square neighborhoods. I have asked that the MPD and U.S. Attorney's office send representatives, and intend that the bulk of the meeting with me devoted to answering questions from those who attend."

This should be interesting, although the cynic in me doesn't think anything substantive will come from this ("Yes, we'll work to bring down gun crime...") and that this is only taking place because Mendelson has an honest-to-god challenger for his seat, in the form of Clark Ray.

Borderstan and Life in Mount Vernon Square have more.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

U Street Neighborhood Association Holiday Party Tomorrow

Looking for something to do on what promises to be a lovely Thursday evening? Plan to join friends, neighbors and local businesses at the U Street Neighborhood Association's Annual Holiday Party and Silent Auction. From the USNA:

The time is here us to celebrate another successful year of working for and in our neighborhood! Join your friends and neighbors at the U Street Neighborhood Association’s Annual Holiday Party and Silent Auction on Thursday, December 10, 7 pm, at Town Danceboutique, 2009 8th Street, NW. Many thanks to Town for their generous support of the neighborhood by hosting this year's event!

More information can be found at the USNA's website.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

ANC2F Notes: Contentious Liquor License for Estadio; Church to Lose Tax Break?

A bit late on the follow-up to last week's ANC2F meeting, I know, but better late than never I suppose. The most contentious issue of the evening dealt with the liquor license for the forthcoming Estadio at the corner of 14th and Church Streets. Estadio, you may recall, is the new restaurant from the team at Penn Quarter wine bar Proof.

Surprisingly (or not), the residents of the building in which Estadio will be located are not thrilled with the idea of a liquor-serving establishment opening beneath them--and they came to the ANC meeting to make this point. Now, I can understand the concern--this is, after all, the former location of the Garden District, which is about as benign a neighbor as you are going to find. So it's understandable that concerned residents would want to ensure that a strong voluntary agreement is put into place to address issues such as noise, operating hours, trash removal and so forth.

However, the aim of the residents was, apparently, to see to it that the ANC not "grant" the license to Estadio. Never mind that the ANC has no liquor license-granting authority. In the end, the issue was resolved in the way these issues typically are--both parties agreed to sign a voluntary agreement that will be negotiated by the ANC. So, wine lovers, never fear...Estadio will be coming. And residents of the neighborhood, plan to enjoy what will most likely be a fabulous establishment opening up near you, and be thankful that we've got paying tenants willing to lease all of this commercial space in this market.

Also on the docket was a liquor license for local chocolate confection purveyors ACKC. The ACKC team plans to introduce wine tastings and similar fare to their location near 14th and Q streets. The ANC also agreed to enter into a voluntary agreement with ACKC; hopefully amaretto-infused hot cocoa is on the way. Mmmmmm.....

Finally, we've received some inquiries regarding the status of the Vermont Avenue Baptist Church property issue; specifically, the revocation of the church's vacant property tax exemption status for the property they hold at Vermont and Q streets. The Church has owned the property for some time, and throughout that time the property has been a dilapidated eyesore. The District has a way of incentivizing owners of blighted properties to either improve the property or sell--the vacant property tax rate.

Basically, if your property gets hit with this tax rate--which is $10 per $100 of assessed value, or 10%--it's bad news for you, because you're going to be paying a lot of money to keep your property in crummy condition. The Vermont Avenue Baptist Church had received a vacant property tax rate exemption for its Q and Vermont property because, it claims, it had started work on rehabbing the structure. However, the Church has run into some economic difficulties, and thus renovating the property has been placed on the back burner. Which brought us to last Wednesday's meeting.

At the meeting, the ANC voted to send a letter to Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) withdrawing its support for the continuation of the vacant property tax exemption for the Church. This now places the matter in the hands of DCRA, which will need to determine whether the Church has met the criteria to obtain the exemption for another year, or whether it has forfeited it.

Without the ANC's support, the Church faces an uphill battle in maintaining its exemption. Then again, a certain church in nearby Shaw has managed to avoid the vacant property designation for numerous properties it owns, so maybe the guiding hand of the Lord will steer DCRA towards a favorable decision for the VABC.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mid-City Holiday Party Tonight at Local 16

If you're looking for something to do on this chilly Monday evening, you might consider dropping in on the annual Mid-City Business Association's Holiday Party. Taking place from 6p-9p this evening at Local 16 (1602 U Street), the party will feature a lamb roast along with other food, a silent auction featuring items donated from a host of local businesses, and (perhaps most importantly) an open bar.

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by clicking here. Proceeds benefit the MCBA and small business assistance programs.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Neighborhood News: "View 14" opens for leasing; Garden District on UK TV

I hope everyone enjoyed the Logan Circle House Tour this weekend. Below are a couple of neighborhood news-related items to pass along.

View 14, the new mixed-use condo apartment development at 14th and Florida, has opened its leasing center--which means you can now reserve your swanky new apartment at the swanky new development. Prices for the units (which, according to developer Level 2 Development reflects "the current concession of two months free [rent] being offered") are $1650 for studios, $1750 for 1 BRs, and $2400 for 2 BRs.

Based on info I received, it seems that these prices will only last until the end of the month (or perhaps sooner), which means that soon, a 2BR at View 14 will set you back roughly $2,880 per month. Expensive, yes...but anymore par for the course for new unit construction around Logan/U Street.

View 14, by the way, is the project of Universal Gear owner David Franco. There has been much speculation about potential retail tenants in the property--including Green Pets, the longtime pet supplies store currently located on 14th Street between Riggs and S Street. Nothing official has been announced yet, but I'm told that some news will be forthcoming.


On the subject of 14th Street retail, unless you are an avid follower of UK tabloid journalism, you might have missed the story featuring Logan's very own Garden District on the Sun's website which addressed the difficulties that small businesses in the U.S. are facing. Can 1300 Christmas trees save a store? Watch the clip and find out.

Garden District owner Joe Carmack has also officially confirmed that his planned project at the Garden District's prior location--"Crepes on the Corner"-- has been shelved. Carmack acknowledged that the project was distracting him from his goal of keeping Garden District a going concern, and that's where his energies are currently focused.

So, it looks like "Point Chaud" will have a monopoly on Logan creperies after all.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cork Market Opens Today

To those of you waiting with breathless anticipation for the arrival of Cork Market--the new gourmet wine and cheese market from the owners of wine bar/restaurant Cork--you may rejoice. As of today, they have officially thrown open their doors for business.

The opening was a bit behind their long-ago anticipated opening in October, but hopefully it will be worth the wait. To celebrate their grand opening, owners Khalid Pitts and Diane Gross have lined up a series of special tastings throughout the weekend. On Friday from 5-7 PM, Ed Addiss of Wine Traditions and Lisa Guifre from Elite Wines will be on hand to kick off a weekend of tastings from France, Italy, Spain and elsewhere.

Cork Market, located at 1805 14th Street (between Pulp/Rue 14 and Home Rule) will be open M-F from 10a - 10p, on Saturdays from 9a - 10p, and on Sundays from 9a - 8p.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Tryptophan Withdrawal: ANC2F Meeting This Wednesday; Liquor for ACKC and Estadio

Welcome back from your long weekend of poultry consumption--I hope you enjoyed this chilly, dreary Monday in the nation's capital as much as I did.

To lighten your mood, we offer a preview of the December ANC2F meeting, to be held this Wednesday.  There are a number of items on the agenda (which most certainly promises to make it a lengthy meeting), but only a few items of particular note.

For those who are not aware, the folks from local chocolate peddler ACKC will be on hand to petition for their liquor license.  This is something that had been discussed for some time, but it was only recently that owners Rob Kingsbury and Eric Nelson elected to pursue a license for their establishment.  Could that mean that an order of amaretto-infused hot chocolate isn't far away?  We can only hope.

Also on the docket in the restaurant arena:  a license for the forthcoming "Estadio" (the new restaurant from the "Proof" team) and expanded sidewalk hours for Commissary so that they can serve breakfast.  (Outdoor breakfast in December?  Maybe someone is hedging their bets on the success of global warming.)

Other items of potential interest:  a discussion of the Franklin School RFP, and the potential revocation of the vacant property tax relief for a property held by the Vermont Ave. Baptist Church.  (Anything church-related always proves sufficiently entertaining.)  Finally, there will be a discussion of the Arts Overlay District Committee's Economic Development Recommendations report.  (More on that item in a later post.)

One final item I would like to point out, briefly.  And I point this out knowing what it says about me, that not only do I read the ANC agendas in advance, but I read them in enough detail to catch things like this.  Chairman Charles Reed is constantly griping about the fact that the meetings consistently run over their allotted time (which they do).  A step they could take towards rectifying that situation could be to put together a more realistic agenda, that doesn't include items like this:

7:25 PM:  DDOT Report
7:30 PM:  Community Announcements
10 Minute Break
7:40:  Business Meeting

So, reading this, there is exactly 0 minutes devoted to community announcements (of which there is one listed on the agenda itself, in addition to whatever might get raised at the meeting).  Why do I doubt that the "Business Meeting" will be commencing promptly at 7:40?

For those interested, more information--and the full agenda--can be found at ANC2f's website.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Giving Back on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving means time with family and friends, good food and relaxation. It's also a time of year that presents an opportunity to volunteer at many of our city's charities and community organizations. For those of you who may be dining alone, or have some time available on Thanksgiving Day (who needs to watch the Lions and the Cowboys anyway?), we present a brief and far-from-exhaustive guide to volunteering your time at one of these many worthy causes.

A bit of a disclaimer: if you are interested in volunteering with any of the organizations listed below, it's wise to give them a call or send them an email. It's not uncommon for volunteer spaces to fill up quickly.

One final note: while many people's minds turn to charity and volunteering during the holidays, most if not all of these organizations require year-round volunteer efforts and donations in order to be able to continue to serve a needy populace. Thus, with that in mind, we present a few ideas for spending your Thanksgiving Day:

Over at the Whitman-Walker Clinic, SaVanna Wanzer is looking for volunteers on Wednesday at 4 PM to assist in the preparation and cooking of a charity Thanksgiving dinner. Give her a call at 202-797-3509 if you are interested.

Emmaus Services for the Aging: Every year on Thanksgiving, Emmaus coordinates the delivery of over 150 Thanksgiving meals to needy seniors throughout the city. This year, they will be delivering meals from 10a - noon, and they could use some help. Although their website is out of date (at this point, I've given up hope on the October 2007 newsletter "coming soon") I've been told on good authority that you contact Patricia Hughes at 202-745-1200 if you are interested in volunteering.

Burgundy Crescent Volunteers are going to be busy throughout the day on Thanksgiving. They need volunteers from the ungodly hour of 4:45 am - 7:00 am for "unspecified duties". From 10:30a - 2p they will be serving dinner to the needy at Rosemary's Thyme, located at the corner of 18th and S. From noon - 2p, they are organizing a clothing drop-off, also at Rosemary's (if nothing else, it's a perfect opportunity to clean out your closets). Finally (whew) they will be serving lunch from 10a - 3p at the Green Door Clubhouse, a home for those with mental disabilities. Interested in volunteering for any of these events? Contact Jonathan at jonathan@burgundycrescent.org.

Food and Friends needs volunteers to deliver meals throughout the day on Thanksgiving (shifts are available on the hour from 8a - 11a). They also need volunteers to assist with meal preparation and to coordinate activities on what promises to be a very busy day. Click here to learn more about volunteering on Thanksgiving Day.

The Community for Creative Nonviolence, the nation's largest homeless shelter, is preparing to serve Thanksgiving meals to over 2,000 needy individuals on Thanksgiving Day. If that sounds like a formidable task, that's because it is--and they could use some help with all that needs to be done. Specifically, they could use some assistance preparing food, serving meals and spending time with their guests. No sign-up is necessary, but those who are interested should call 202-393-1909 in advance for information.

Finally, while not specifically Thanksgiving related, while we're on the subject of food, the Capital Area Food Bank is always looking for donations in time and goods to help them fulfill their mission--now and throughout the year. Click here to learn more about what you can do to assist them.

And with that, we would like to wish everyone a safe, happy and enjoyable Thanksgiving. 14thandyou is going to take a bit of a break in order to spend some time with family over the weekend, and we hope you will get an opportunity as well.

How Do They Stay in Business?

So, I found myself strolling along Connecticut Ave. in Dupont a couple of days ago, and I stumbled upon the recently opened Smoothie King just north of Q Street. It was in the middle of a Sunday afternoon, and I noticed that they were closed. A bit odd, I thought, until I noticed the hours posted on the door.

Now tell me, how do they stay in business with hours like that? What clientele are they aiming for? "The lunch crowd is simply too overwhelming. And forget about afternoons and evenings. I know, let's only open for a few hours in the morning, but never past noon."

Am I missing something?

Worried About a Local Landmark? Nominate it as an Endangered Place

The DC Preservation League--the organization that seeks to raise awareness of threatened historically significant structures--is accepting petitions for buildings to include in its 2010 list. A few structures in the Shaw/Logan area could probably qualify for the list (I'm looking at you, Vermont Baptist Church-owned house at 12th and Q streets), but it's questionable as to whether they are "significant" enough to warrant inclusion.

The full press release is included below.



November 13, 2009: The DC Preservation League (DCPL), the District of Columbia’s only citywide nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the historic and built environment, is accepting nominations for its annual list of Most Endangered Places in Washington for 2010. Nomination form can be found at www.dcpreservation.org and must be postmarked no later than Friday, February 5, 2010. Selections will be announced in May 2010.

This list, issued annually since 1996, has included historic buildings and places such as the west campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital, McMillan Reservoir, Martin Luther King Jr., Memorial Library and the Joseph Taylor Arms Mansion (Chancery of the Democratic Republic of the Congo). The list of Most Endangered Places in Washington is chosen by the DCPL Board of Trustees based on nominations submitted by concerned individuals, communities and organizations. Nominations are assessed based on the severity of the threat to the resource in question, whether through demolition, neglect, or inappropriate alteration. The list can include buildings, parks or other landscaped areas, or even vistas and other aspects of the city's unique planned history. All Most Endangered Places selected are located in the District of Columbia.

Detailed descriptions of each site listed in past years including information about the threats motivating their inclusion on these lists can be found at www.dcpreservation.org.

DCPL invites volunteers, civic associations, District government, and other groups to partner with us in preserving and protecting these endangered places. For more information, contact DCPL at 202.783.5144 or info@dcpreservation.org. For more information on DCPL, visit www.dcpreservation.org.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pre-Thanksgiving Fun: Final Farmers Market, Christmas Trees

In addition to the all-important OSU - Michigan game tomorrow (Go Bucks), there are a couple of things in the neighborhood that you can do to occupy your pre-Thanksgiving time.

First, tomorrow is the last farmer's market of the year at 14th and U streets--and it looks like they'll luck out with some great weather (sunny, highs in the upper 50s). So, if you're looking to pick up some fresh meat and produce for your Thanksgiving meal, head up to the Reeves Center for your last chance this year.

Secondly, the Garden District will receive their annual shipment of Frasier Fir Christmas Trees this Sunday. So, after you've picked up some fresh squash and spent a day recuperating from celebrating the Buckeye victory, head over to the Garden District for a dose of holiday cheer. In addition to Christmas trees, they're having a 50% off anniversary sale on their perennials, trees, shrubs and other items on their outdoor lot.

So get out there, enjoy the good weather and support your local businesses.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A New Condo Tower at 14th and R

Suddenly, it feels like 2006 all over again. Via Borderstan and the WBJ, news today that the vacant lot at the SW corner of 14th and R streets is going to be the home of a new five story, 30,000 sf mixed-use condo building. The project will rise on a relatively small patch of land adjacent to the AYT auto repair shop.

Building architects Bonstra and Haresign describe the building as "patterned after the showrooms of the former 14th Street 'Automobile Row'". They also describe the building as possessing an "iconic crown." Hmmm, I'm not so sure i'd call it "iconic". It looks more like a black fence on the roof that tipped over. The building is like no small number of others that have sprung up along 14th Street in recent years--rather bland and unattractive. (Go here and scroll down to see drawings of the new building.)

To say the project has been a long time in the making is an understatement. ANC2F first saw a presentation on the plans for the building back in April 2004. Since that time, the project has been held up by approvals by the Board of Zoning Adjustments and the Historic Preservation Review Board, changes in the scope of the project, and--yes--the economic collapse.

Interestingly, the project has changed rather substantially since it was first introduced over five years ago. Plans at that time called for six duplex apartments and one 3500 sf penthouse. The current plans now call for as many as 32 "luxury" (Aren't they all luxury these days?) apartments at the space. Let's see, 30,000 sf, 32 units...I hope your definition of luxury is "less than 1,000 sf".

At long last, though, one of the few remaining vacant lots along 14th Street will be developed, and we can now move on to the inevitable handwringing over what type of retail might make an appearance there. First person to call for a bagel shop wins the prize.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

SweetGreen Coming to P Street

FroYo has declared war on gelato.

Somehow, we completely missed this when it was announced last month, but it seems that local frozen yogurt/salad shop SweetGreen has plans to open a branch of their growing chain next to Lululemon Athletic near 15th and P streets.  For those keeping track of such things, that will place it almost next door to the recently opened Pitango Gelato.  It should also fill the last retail vacancy on the P Street side of the Metropole development.

So, 14th Street will have dueling creperies, and P Street will leave consumers with the always vexing choice of whether to go with frozen yogurt or gelato.  As for the 14thandyous, we'll probably just stick with our beloved pints of Haagen-Dazs purchased from the CVS.

Arrest Made in Shooting of 9 yo; Columbia Heights Still a Work in Progress

So by now, you've probably heard that the MPD made an arrest in this past weekend's murder of 9 year old Jose Oscar Fuentes, who lived with his family in an apartment in Columbia Heights and was gunned down as he stood inside the front door of his apartment on Saturday evening.

First of all, let me say bravo to the MPD for some excellent police work (assuming, of course, that the suspect is the right guy). It's good to see, at least, that they were able to make an arrest so quickly. But there is, of course, a bigger issue here.

Sometimes, the violence in this city really seems oppressive. It's always there, simmering like an unattended pot on a stove, but sometimes it boils over and forces you to take notice of it. That's what I've found occurring ever since Jose's Oscar's murder this weekend. I truly do love this city, and everything it offers--in spite of its flaws. But there are certain events that transpire that cause me to view the city with a different perspective, however fleetingly. That's what I've found happening this week.

And what to make of Columbia Heights? I don't normally cover things up there--there's more than enough to keep me occupied here in Logan. But it's close enough that me and the Mrs. have regular interactions with it; this includes weekly shopping trips to the Giant and occasional Target runs, among other things. I've also known and/or interacted with a number of people who call Columbia Heights home. And while everyone is appropriately expressing outrage at the murder of Jose Oscar Fuentes, there remains a not-so-subtle undercurrent of surprise from some individuals that such an act could possibly occur in a neighborhood like Columbia Heights.

Col Heights is, in every respect, a transitioning neighborhood. And I think some people buying the expensive rowhouses and even more expensive "luxury" condos there can forget the fact that when one buys into a transitioning neighborhood, there are two sides to that coin. There's the hipster bars, the chain store retail, the attractive housing stock and "urban feel" that the neighborhood provides. But there's also the shootings, the gang beefs and the seemingly never-ending drug trade and prostitution that goes on. That's the Columbia Heights people would like to forget.

To be sure, that stuff happens in other neighborhoods too (unfortunately). But Columbia Heights has been altered faster than possibly any neighborhood has in the history of the city. Just five years ago, it was a largely neglected crime- and drug-infested mess. Then, some developers conspired with the city to stick Clarendon up there, and it became the new place to be. But the ills that plagued the neighborhood didn't magically disappear--they just got swept aside a bit. And they rear their heads from time to time, in the form of gunfights at the Metro station, random shootings on the street, and--yes--the senseless killing of a 9 year old boy in his apartment.

Ultimately, I think the tide of gentrification will continue to sweep over the neighborhood. Past events haven't deterred ongoing development and growth in Columbia Heights, and there's no reason to think that this will, either. I fully expect more Chipotles, more wine bars, more gastropubs and high-end retail in the future. And I imagine housing demand will continue pretty much unabated. But the crime will, as well. And life will continue in Columbia Heights.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Swann Cleaners Closes

You're going to have to find a new laundromat to wash your duvet: Swann Cleaners, located at the corner of 14th and Swann streets, has closed. "Permanently," so says the sign on the door.

I've been unable to obtain any information as to why they closed, but there is speculation that the closure indicates that JBG's much-anticipated project at the former Whitman-Walker building is moving forward. The project has been hung up for months due to the ever-present "financial issues". Although the centerpiece of the project will be the renovation of the W-W building, plans are calling for JBG to develop the entire block between S and Swann.

Although Swann was one of the few laundromats in the immediate area, not all neighbors may be mourning its demise. The property was in horrible shape and poorly maintained, and trash was frequently allowed to accumulate around the building. Still, the departure marks the loss of yet another small business along the corridor.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Garden District's Long-Term Future Uncertain

Last week, the Garden District--the 14th Street nursery and plant lover's paradise--filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, leaving its future on 14th Street cloudy.

According to Garden District owner Joe Carmack, the store will remain open through Thanksgiving and Christmas (where sales of trees typically provide a needed end-of-the-year boost).   According to Carmack, "Christmas is always an exciting and busy time here, but after that who knows."

Carmack noted that "the economy has definitely impacted our business a lot." The Garden District recently consolidated their operations into a single location across the street from their former space at 14th and S streets, which will help reduce the store's overhead.

As far as the long term future of the store, Carmack indicated that is first priority would be for the store to remain open for business, but that he couldn't rule out the store's potential closure. Under Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, the U.S. Trustee's Office can shutter the store should payment terms not be met. And the ability to make payments, naturally, depends upon the volume of sales.

Garden District's problems will not affect the pending opening of "Crepes on the Corner," Carmack's new gastro-venture at the former garden District location.

The loss of a longstanding institution (the store was opened in 2002) would be a tremendous blow to the 14th Street retail establishment. However, sources have indicated that it is unfortunately not the only popular retailer along the corridor that is facing financial difficulty.

With the continued troubles of the economy, and commercial lease rates along 14th Street continuing to climb, it will become increasingly challenging for small, local retailers to survive. Thus, it's up to the residents and patrons of neighborhood businesses to do their part to ensure that local establishments remain viable. A truly vibrant commercial corridor means having more than bars and restaurants, however great those may be. It means having a mix of businesses that cater to a variety of needs and interests. Unfortunately, the news for some of our local businesses is grim, which threatens to create an increasingly large hole in our retail scene.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Hey, You Kids...!

So, Mrs. 14thandyou had been home this evening for approximately ten minutes when she was greeted by the sound of our door buzzer. Outside were two of DC's finest, there to inform her that her car had just been broken into. She stepped outside to see that what once had been her window now lay in a thousand pieces on the sidewalk and inside the car.

Seems the two suspects (16-24 yo b/m) were interrupted by a vigilant neighbor who saw what they did, chased them for a block, then called the MPD. (Thank you, kind-hearted neighbor who we don't know.)

One of the positives that came from an otherwise angering experience was Mrs. 14thandyou's interaction with MPD Officer Kimberly Selby and her partner, who could not have been more helpful and pleasant. It seems our two suspects are a known commodity in the area, Officer Selby has been tracking them for some time.

Perhaps most perplexing out of this entire ordeal was what on earth the dynamic duo saw in Mrs. 14thandyou's 13 year old vehicle that made it an enticing option for a window smashing. Could it have been the ice-scraper? (It *was* one of those nicer ice-scrapers that has the long reach and the brush on the other side...) Perhaps it was the nearly empty jug of windshield wiper fluid sitting on the floor of the backseat? (Is there a black market for that stuff?) Or maybe it was the assortment of mid-atlantic and northeast corridor roadmaps tucked into the passenger-side door? (Maybe they were planning on making a getaway to "New Hampshire/Vermont/Maine, with blow-up maps of Portland, Manchester and Burlington"?)

So we know two things about the MO of these wayward youth: they like to smash car windows, and they have really, really awful taste.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's official: "Estadio" coming to Logan

Is 14th Street becoming THE dining destination in the city?  It's appearing that way as the onslaught of restaurants moving into the 14th Street corridor continues.  

We made mention a couple of weeks ago that the team from Penn Quarter wine bar "Proof" were looking to set up shop in Logan, and it seems today that the move finally became official, as the "For Lease" sign has come down from the window in their new space, and the ABRA hearing notice has been posted.

"Estadio" will be opening in the space formerly occupied by the Garden District at 14th and Church streets, across the street from soon-to-open wine market "Cork and Fork".

The 125-seat establishment, which will be looking for a late sprint/early summer 2010 opening, will be an upscale restaurant serving Spanish cuisine.  Considering that the Proof guys are behind this, it's a safe bet that the wine selection will be top notch as well.

Operating hours are completely non-threatening, with a proposed 1 AM closing time during the week and 1:45 AM on Fridays and Saturdays, so hopefully the VA agreement negotiations with the ANC will go smoothly.

Don't Forget: 14th 7 U Farmer's Market Costume Contest; Trick-or-Treat night

A couple of Halloween tidbits for fellow Logan-ites:

Tomorrow at noon, the 14th and U Farmer's Market will be hosting a Halloween Party, replete with a costume contest for both adults and kids. Prizes for the best costumes will be awarded to the winners, with prizes donated by local businesses Saint Ex, Cork Market, Pulp, Mid City Caffe, Biaggio, and Adventures in Shaw.

Judging the contest will be Amanda from Metrocurean and Diane Gross of Cork. I'll be there, hoping my swine flu costume garners at least an honorable mention.


We frequently receive emails or comments to the effect of: "Do kids trick-or-treat in this neighborhood?" The answer is an unequivocal "yes".

Now, we don't get hordes and hordes of kids as you typically see in the 'burbs, but we do get our share of football players, ballerinas, ghosts and goblins looking for treats. The 14thandyous typically set up shop outside for a couple of hours to pass out candy, however it seems that not many others in the neighborhood do.

Thus, if you want to make some of the neighborhood kids happy, head out to CVS and pick up a few bags of Kit-Kats and Snickers (but no Jujubees or Necco wafers, 'cause they're gross) and spend a couple of hours passing out candy.

The best part?  You likely won't give away all of your candy, thus leaving plenty for you.

Crepe wars, 14th Street style

14th Street is about to get totally crepe-tastic.  In what appears to be a remarkable coincidence, not one but two creperies are set to open up across from each other at the corner of 14th and S streets.

First up, we have Crepes On The Corner (pictured below), the product of a collaboration between Garden District owner Joe Carmack and local executive chef Vincent Bradberry.  "Crepes..." will occupy the space formerly held by the Garden District, which has since moved across the street.

They promise "a genuine creperie" that will serve as a "place to get a healthy quick bite for lunch, an after dinner dessert crêpe, and to stop by as the bars close." In addition to crepes, they will serve a selection of homemade soups, salads, and coffee. The outdoor patio section will serve as both a seating area and a garden for fresh produce and herbs.  It appears they are gunning for a December opening (although likely NOT for the garden).

Across the street, and flinging sticky gobs of crepe batter at their competition, will be guys at Point Chaud Cafe & Crepes.

Details on the operations of this creperie remain a mystery.  All we can tell you at this point is that they're opening in the former Circle Boutique space and have not, as of yet, applied for a liquor license.

Now, all we need is a new wine bar serving small-plate organic crepes, and our dining options will have truly come full circle.  (I kid, of course...the 14thandyous are looking forward to soon being able to enjoy some wonderful creperie goodness in the neighborhood.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Neighborhood thoughts...

Just a few short, disconnected thoughts that I've had rattling around my head for a while.  Take 'em for what they're worth...


It makes me happy to hear jazz pouring out of HR-57's front door on Wednesday evenings, because it means the week is more than half over.  Conversely, I am less than thrilled when the Sunday Night Football crowd gathers at Stoney's.


Events like last weekend's Mid-City Arts Festival and August's "Dog Days" event are great for the neighborhood--they bring a lot of people into the area and provide critical support to local businesses and artists.  It would be great of organizations like the Mid-City Business Association could organize more events like it--a monthly artist/gallery hop, for instance?


ChurchKey's beer selection is awesome.  Really.  If you love beer, you must set aside time to visit this establishment.  That being said, it appears that weekends there are going to be quite busy.  Mr. and Mrs. 14thandyou stopped in on Saturday evening and, after standing around and bumping elbows with the bartenders for about the 1000th time, decided to cash out after one pint.  We can't wait to go back when it's slightly less crowded--but good for them for attracting such a crowd.


I'm concerned about the safety and general well-to-do of the gentleman who has been living near the mailbox at the corner of 14th and R streets, particularly as the weather turns colder.  I would hope that when the temps begin dipping down to near freezing, he'll have the sense to check into the shelter across the street.

On a similar note, I wonder if the panhandler who has been singing in front of the P Street CVS has been having success with his approach?


Speaking of the P Street CVS, I wish an employee there would have the decency to turn down the piped-in music, or perhaps turn it off completely.  Peter Cetera, Christopher Cross and Taylor Dayne played at an unreasonable volume does not improve my shopping experience.


Is it just me, or has the house at the corner of 12th and S streets been undergoing a renovation since the dawn of time?  Ditto the mansion at the corner of 13th and S.


The Post Office near 14th and T streets gets a bad rap because the building is ugly and poorly maintained, and the staff is surly.  But, credit where credit is due:  I must say, the last few times I have been in there I have received wonderful service from the women working behind the counter.  Which is more than I can say for many of the restaurants in this city.

Monday, October 26, 2009

What a Drag: High Heel Race Tomorrow

If it's almost Halloween, that means more than trick-or-treaters for the residents of Dupont and Logan: it means that it's time once again for that vaunted DC institution, the High Heel Race. the race takes place on the Tuesday before Halloween every year, along 17th Street between R Street and Church.

If you're new to the neighborhood, or simply retreat into your bat cave every October, the race goes a little something like this: starting at 7 PM, the parade begins, featuring floats, dancing, drag queens and excessive amounts of techno and dance music. The festivities lead up to the 9 PM main event, when an assortment of men in drag (and, of course, heels) dash for 0.2 miles down 17th Street. The winner takes home a lovely trophy, as well as bragging rights.

Interested in attending? Well, the crowds get pretty thick (and arrive early). The prime viewing area is around 17th and Church, near JR's and Annie's Steakhouse. Those looking to ensure a prime seat can purchase one of 50 "VIP" seats. In addition to a seat in the prime viewing area near the finish line, ticket holders will also obtain a "Bar Fast Pass" that will get you to the front of the line at several 17th Street establishments the night of the race. Proceeds from the ticket sales will go to benefit the Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets Association.

A collection of photos from past High heel races can be found here and here (which includes a fantastic one of DC Mayor Adrian Fenty). Crowd estimates of past attendance are in the 15,000 range--so get there early, and don't forget your heels.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"World's Greatest Cheesesteaks" Coming to 14th Street This Saturday

It seems that that JJs Cheesesteaks--home of the "World's Greatest Cheesesteaks"--will (finally) officially be opening this Saturday at their location on 14th Street just south of U (in the space formerly occupied by the 14U cafe).

Somehow, I maintain some level of doubt as to whether JJ's can actually deliver on their rather grandiose statement; still, this does appear to be one of those "cheaper, sandwich-focused" offerings that people in the neighborhood are always saying we need more of.

Ustreetgirl has a photo of the interior, including their nice brick countertop.
If you get a chance to stop by and check out the sandwiches that will apparently be the envy of Philadelphians everywhere, do let us know how it is.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sneak Preview: Birch & Barley and ChurchKey

Update: Both the Birch and Barley and ChurchKey websites are up and running. Not much info on either of them at the moment. Also, the ChurchKey team is maintaining a blog, where you can learn all sorts of useful information about how to properly serve beer. Mmmmm...beer.


This evening, 14thandyou got a sneak peek at the new beer-centric establishments Birch & Barley and ChurchKey--which we learned will be having a soft opening tomorrow evening.

So, what's the former Dakota Cowgirl space (located near the interseciton of 14th and Rhode Island) looking like? Well, you're looking at the dining room of first floor bistro "Birch and Barley", whose cuisine is being dubbed "rustic Americana." Hey, whatever--so long as it doesn't involve small plates, it's all good.

Chef Kyle Bailey, a New York transplant, will be manning the kitchen, while another ex-New Yorker, Tiffany Macisaac, will be serving as pastry chef. One of her creations--Roasted Apple Beignet served with cinnamon chantilly, golden raisin purée and mulled cider sorbet--sounds just about good enough to eat.

Upstairs at ChurchKey, the focus is on the beer. We got to chat for a bit with beer director Greg Engert, who told us in a very excited fashion about the three chilled coolers where the establishment's 50 (!) on-tap brews will reside. There is the super-chilled 42 degree cooler, for lighter beers, a 48 degree cooler for medium-bodied brews, and a 54 degree cooler for the beers Mrs. 14thandyou might describe as "chewy"--a method that is not used by any other DC beer-serving establishments, Engert told us.

They will offer a pub-style menu as well, but the focus is clearly going to be on the booze--in addition to the aforementioned 50 on-tap beers, ChurchKey will also offer over 500 bottled beers, 5 casks, 60 wines and 40 ciders. Which is good, because there is a very long 55 75' bar from which one can enjoy the libations.

As if further proof were needed, the beer selection is currently residing in the space that will become the lounge--and as you can see, it took up a lot of it.

Curious to find out more for yourself? Stop over tomorrow evening for the un-grand opening. The 14thandyous will be unable to make it, but if you get a chance to go please post comments and let us know what you thought.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Masa 14 open for business

Is 14th Street ready for another small plate restaurant? Let's hope so.

After months of construction and a soft opening last week, the latest entry into the 14th Street dining world, Masa 14, officially opened its doors for business yesterday.

Image courtesy of Thrillst.

Masa, as you may recall, is the product of two esteemed DC chefs--Kaz Okochi (of Kaz's Sushi Bistro) and Richard Sandoval (of Penn Quarter's Zengo). Together, they have created a large (5,000 sf) dining establishment and bar/lounge. According to Masa's team, the bar itself--at 65 feet in length--will be one of the largest bars in the DC area.

As for Masa's culinary offerings, the "Asian and Latin small plate" establishment will offer a selection of sushi rolls, and seafood, meat and vegetarian small plate dishes, as well as a small selection of noodle dishes, for enjoyment in their 100 seat dining room. There is also an extensive wine and sake list.

Masa's full menu is available here.

Masa 14 joins an ever lengthening list of establishments along the 14th street corridor serving "small plate" offerings. Now, we've been to pretty much all of them, and have largely found them to be good to excellent. But it does beg the question: how many small plate establishments does one neighborhood need? Sometimes, I'd be thrilled with just a bagel sandwich, rather than pork belly al pastor tacos. But maybe that's just me.

Monday, October 19, 2009

"Proof" team coming to Logan; Birch & Barley opening next week?

A quick bit of restaurant news to pass along: it seems that the team behind trendy Penn Quarter wine bar Proof are headed to Logan. They are planning to open a Spanish-themed restaurant called "Prado" that is current unnamed in the space at 14th and S streets formerly occupied by the Garden District (before they moved across the street). No word on how much of a focus wine will be at this new establishment, but if Proof is any indication, it will feature a fine selection.

No opening date has yet been set for the new establishment.

With Cork already firmly entrenched, and the forthcoming Cork Market and Cork and Fork, is 14th Street becoming the city's hangout for oenophiles?


In other restaurant-related news, nothing's official yet, but...we have received a tip that the folks behind the long-awaited Birch & Barley and ChurchKey--the restaurant and beer-themed bistro, respectively--set to move into the former Dakota Cowgirl space are aiming for a soft opening as early as next week. If you've been by the space recently, you see that they're putting the finishing touches on the interior, while staff training is commencing as well.

Anyone who has followed these two establishments knows that there have been several false starts, so any discussions of opening dates should be taken with several grains of salt. However, the opening date does appear to be imminent, and who knows...they might be able to coax a couple more pleasant evenings out of the weather in order to test drive their rooftop deck.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The autumn wind came blowin' in, and brought some H1N1...

If you're wondering why it's been a bit quiet here over the last week, that would be due to a nasty bout of swine flu that Mr. 14thandyou has been fighting off for the better part of the last week. Whatever the news reports may say about this thing not being as bad as it has been made out to be: they lie. The H1N1 flu is awful; I think this was the sickest I have been since I was in grade school. It's the kind of flu that makes raising a glass of water to your mouth and successfully taking a sip a feat of superhuman strength.

So, take this as a public service announcement: wash your hands, sneeze into your shirtsleeve, and don't stick your tongue on the handrails of the Metro cars. I've sure learned my lesson.

Ben Ali Tribute Tomorrow at Lincoln Theater

Just received this note from Natalie Avery at MidCity:

MidCity BA President, Kamal Ali wrote today to say that there will be a Memorial Tribute for his father Ben Ali on Friday October 16th at 12 Noon at the Lincoln Theater. He said the Ali and Ben's Chili Bowl family thanks you all for your love and support.

No further details that I could find, so if you're interested in attending...I guess you just show up?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ben Ali Dead at 82

Sad news this morning, courtesy of the City Paper: Ben Ali, owner of U Street institution Ben's Chili Bowl (as well as the recently opened Ben's Next Door) passed away yesterday evening at the age of 82. According to a statement from the family, Ali died peacefully around 9 PM yesterday evening.

Ben's Chili Bowl, one of the longest continually operated businesses in this area of DC, celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, and also received a visit from President Obama (whose family, along with Bill Cosby, are the only individuals allowed to eat for free at Ben's).

A statement on Ben's website reads: "The Ali Family and all of the Ben's Chili Bowl and Ben's Next Door Family want to thank Ben Ali for leading this legacy and allowing us to follow in his dream. We miss you and love you."

R.I.P. Mr. Ali.

DCPD On Sex Club Death: "Not Yet" a Homicide; Looking to Shut Down Club

EDIT (10/8/09): NBC4 did a story on yesterday's newscast about the club, which has now been identified as both a "gay sex club" and a "men's social club". ANC2F Chairman Charles Reed has also indicated that he would like to see the operation shut down.

EDIT: Amanda Hess over at the City Paper has more information about the investigation into the man's death.

At this evening's ANC2F meeting, DCPD PSA307 Lt. Vanessa Moore was questioned about the recent death of a man inside the sex club located at 1618 14th Street, and a few new details emerged.

It seems that a 47 year old white male was found at the bottom of a staircase in the building, possibly with a broken neck. Moore indicated that the circumstances of his death, or even the cause of death, remain unclear, and that the police were not yet ready to rule as to whether or not the death was a homicide. Lt. Moore did indicate that the police were looking into allegations of illicit drug use at the club, which is unlicensed and operating as a nonprofit.

Although professing to know next to nothing about the operation or its history, she did indicate that the DCPD was working with DCRA to "shut the club down." At 14thandyou, we question how sincere the District is at looking into the operations of the club. A fire at the club in 2005 raised similar questions about the legality of its operations, although to our knowledge nothing against the club was ever pursued.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Make a Difference and Help StreetSense

Most if not all of you have seen the vendors for StreetSense--"Washington DC's only paper by and for the homeless"--selling their papers on street corners in our neighborhood. StreetSense is one of those institutions in our community who truly do strive to make a difference for the less fortunate out there--and they need your help in order to further their mission.

Tomorrow evening from 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM, StreetSense will be hosting a charity silent auction at the WVSA Arts Connection at 1100 16th Street. Auction items have been donated by numerous business, restaurants and individuals throughout the region and include some really cool stuff (including Caps tickets and a Bethany Beach getaway).

For more information, visit StreetSense's website, or send an email to info@streetsense.org.

Update: "Green Pets" Relocation Moving Forward

A few weeks ago, I posted a story about the pending departure/closure of local businesses "Green Pets" and "Big Monkey Comics" from their current homes along 14th Street. At the time, owner Linda Welch had indicated that she was exploring relocation options for the businesses, but that nothing had been definitively worked out.

This afternoon, I received a note from Linda that indicated that she was close to relocating both Green Pets and Dogs By Day to larger spaces in the recently completed View 14 building near 14th and Florida Ave. According to Welch, the landlord at View 14 (which was developed in art by Universal Gear owner David Franco) is "very interested" in bringing the businesses north, and that negotiations are currently ongoing.

To anyone--such as the 14thandyous--who rely on Green Pets to provide food and other necessities for their pets/fur children, the fact that Green Pets is likely to remain in the neighborhood is certainly welcome news.

Is the additional 6 blocks a bit much to walk for your organic pet food? No sweat, Welch says. "We'll have pick-up and delivery available for those who think the extra 6 blocks to too far."