Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Two Russians Walk Into a Record Shop...

So, let's suppose you're the owner of a venerable DC vinyl institution on 14th Street. One day, you're minding you're own business, putting up the latest Ridiculously Awesome Album Cover of the Week, when suddenly two Russian-speaking women walk in flaunting large bills, claiming that they are on a mission from Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, and ask to purchase some Duke Ellington records to add to Medvedev's vinyl collection.

You just hope you have some Ellington on hand, right?

Unfortunately for Som Records owner Neal Becton, he was fresh out of Ellington. But he did manage to send the Russians hope happy with some Hendrix, B.B. King and others. (Seems the women had to consult with a higher authority via cell phone in order to complete the transaction--you don't want to bring the Prez back an album he might already own, after all.)

Hendrix and King? What, no "space age bachelor pad" music from Enoch Light and his Orchestra? What a missed opportunity.

Monday, June 28, 2010

"Estadio" Opening Soon

Those of you looking forward to getting some Spanish tapas here in Logan won't have to wait much longer.

Estadio, the new venture from Proof-owner Mark Kuller, is set to open its doors soon (although a promised opening date by "the end of the month" seems unlikely). Estadio, which will be located in the former Garden District space at 14th and Church streets, will feature contemporary Spanish cuisine focused on the northern part of the country. And since it is a creation of the team behind Penn Quarter's Proof, you also know that Estadio will feature an extensive wine list--over 300 wines, in fact, many of them Spanish.

(If you've walked by their space during the last week or so, you know that this pic is a bit outdated. Sorry, I hadn't been by with a camera for awhile.)

According to a release sent out by the restaurant, chef Haidar Karoum's menu will feature a variety of pintxos (small snacks) ranging in price from $3-$6, traditional tapas from $5-$11, and smaller entrees from $12-$19. Of particular interest to those of you (like us) who complain about the frequently crummy bread served with meals at restaurants throughout the area, all of the bread served at Estadio will be baked fresh on the premises.

One final bit of trivia for those interested in such minutiae: the space Estadio is moving into wasn't originally designed to house a restaurant, and had to be retrofitted with an exhaust fan in order to make it work--no small investment.

No firm opening date yet, but from the looks of the interior of the restaurant, they're between 1-2 weeks out. Keep watching www.estadio-dc.com for a firm opening date.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Logan From Above

Well, "Logan from a third floor deck" at least.

Thanks to Bill and Drew of Fathom Creative for giving me the opportunity to take some shots of the neighborhood from their rooftop, where I had the pleasure of recently spending an evening. Kind of presents a different view of Logan...the shot of the houses from behind reminds me a bit of Baltimore.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Preparing For a Busy Summer in Shaw

The development pace in Shaw is about to pick up.

Several major projects are due to break ground this summer and fall, including the long-awaited O Street Market Project, Ellis Development Group's slightly downsized Renaissance Project (formerly Broadcast Center One), and the refurbishment of the Howard Theater.

Over on O Street, it looks like the earth may finally start moving there this September, when developer Roadside Development undertakes efforts to stabilize the structure. The Giant store located across the street from the market will be closed in January 2011, and the building will be razed a month later. And with that, one of the neighborhood's most intriguing--and hoped-for--projects will be off and running.

To recap, when completed the O Street Market will include over 600 residential units (including 86 subsidized by the city), a boutique hotel, senior housing, a 500+ space parking garage, and nearly 90,000 sf of retail, including 57,000 sf for the new Giant store. The development will also reopen 8th Street in that portion of Shaw. The new Giant is tentatively due to open in early 2013, with the hotel and rest of the development coming on board a year later. (Be forewarned: dates for projects of such magnitude are nearly always "fluid".) The development stands to be a transformative project in a long-neglected part of the city, and will also provide a much-needed boost to 9th Street, where the development of its commercial corridor continues.

Speaking of 9th Street, a much smaller project is set to land at 1501 9th Street, next door to the Queen of Sheba restaurant. The 6,000 sf, four-story building, will be built on a vacant lot that used to host a used car dealership. Moving into the new structure will be Burmese food purveyors Mandalay, currently located in Silver Spring. Current plans call for the restaurant to occupy the bottom two floors of the building (with the second floor being largely a bar/lounge space), and the restaurant owner's family inhabiting the upper floors.

An entire floor devoted to a bar/lounge? Gah! Cue Shiloh Church protest in 3, 2, 1...

Over at 7th and S Streets, Ellis Development Group appears set to break ground on its Renaissance Project in August. If that name is unfamiliar to you, that may be because for years it was known as Broadcast Center One, which was going to be the new home of Radio One, until Radio One decided they liked their Maryland digs a bit better. At the time, Radio One's decision to back out put the project in serious jeopardy. However, the city stepped in with a $3.6 million real estate tax abatement for the United Negro College Fund, who agreed to move in and fill much of the commercial space in the building, which will also feature 180 residential units and street level retail (albeit 25,000 fewer sf than had originally been proposed).

The rebirth of the Renaissance Project is excellent news in more ways than one: in addition to providing further development near the Shaw Metro Station, it will also bring an influx of daytime office workers to an area currently lacking them. The project will take up space within a block of the new Waltha T. Daniel library, set to open this summer.

A bit further north on 7th Street, Ellis is also set to break ground in August on the refurbishment of the long-closed Howard Theater. This project has been on the books for awhile, and in fact appeared close to dead earlier this year when Ward 1 council member Jim Graham made comments to the effect of "the project isn't close to happening".

Well, it appears now that it is. When completed, the refurbished theater will play host to performances that can accommodate between 500-600 spectators, "upscale" (Ellis's words, not mine) food and beverage services, and space for community meetings and events.

If you're wondering how this will mesh with the Lincoln Theater, which seems curiously quiet for much of the year, you aren't the only one. The release touting the groundbreaking took pains to note that the Howard would not compete with the Lincoln, and that it would aim to host primarily larger-draw musical acts and similar performances. Maybe, just maybe, the Howard's board of directors will be a bit more ambitious when it comes to filling the Theater's calendar of events than the Lincoln has been. But that's just a thought.

Regardless, having the Howard project back online is certainly good news for residents of northern Shaw and Ledroit Park, who have been waiting for some time for new development to reach their corner of the city.

Coupled with the announced transformation of the Kelsey Gardens projects into the Addison Square development, it's quite possible that the Shaw you see five years from now will be markedly different from what is there today.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Shop 14th and U Streets This Coming Thursday, Win Lincoln Theater Tickets

On the third Thursday of every month, shops, restaurants, galleries and bars along 14th and U streets open their doors--and extend their hours--for an evening of shopping, strolling and dining. The next one's coming up in just a couple of days, so if you don't yet have your Thirsty Thursday plans, plan to spend it on 14th and U streets.

This Thursday, stores throughout the neighborhood will be raffling off 20 pairs of tickets to see Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies at the Lincoln Theater, running now through June 27 (featuring the music of--who else?--The Duke himself).

At the risk of coming off sounding too much like a Chamber of Commerce brochure or an NPR fundraising drive, let me add that events like this are critical to the ongoing success of businesses in our neighborhood. If you've ever wished for a greater variety of retail, or longed for a new business opening that didn't involve some combination of the words "small" "plate" and "wine," then I strongly urge you to head out and spend some money at our local retail establishments. And then, you know, go get some wine and small plates somewhere for dinner.

The MidCity Business Association does a great job planning these events, and has a ton of information on their site about participating shops and restaurants, so go check it out. Hope to see you out and about this Thursday--and maybe at the Theater, too.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

"Italian Shirt Laundry" and "Italian Cinema" Headed for 14th Street

One of 14th Street's mysteries--who will take over the former Shirt Laundry space located at 14th and Q streets--has been answered. Later this year, local restaurant developer The Whisk Group and Abdo Development will be bringing an Italian restaurant and bakery--Italian Shirt Laundry--to the currently dilapidated former drycleaners. According to a report from the Post's Tom Sietsema, blueprints have already been drawn up for the establishment. You have to believe that the plans will include some way to make use of what could be a lovely outdoor patio space fronting Q Street.

Whis Group owner Mark Weiss has indicated that he plans to have the operation running by the end of the year, but that seems ambitious. They have yet to appear before the ANC regarding a liquor license, and there have been concerns expressed regarding potential environmental remediation issues at the site (drycleaners, in spite of their name, don't leave particularly clean environments in their wake).

A little further down the street, at Abdo's offices at 1404 14th Street, yet another Italian restaurant developed by the Whisk Group--this one called the Italian Cinema--will move in. According to Sietsema, the Cinema will feature "pasta, charcuterie and, as the title suggests, Italian films screened against a wall on the restaurant's roof."

With Posto already entrenched along the east side of 14th Street in the former Veridian location, does this announcement make 14th Street the new hotbed for Italian cuisine in DC?

ARTS Overlay News: 50% Cap Appears Set for Passage

Yesterday, the Zoning Commission met to hear testimony regarding the permanent raising of the cap on bars and restaurants to 50% in the Uptown Arts Overlay District, which includes substantial portions of U Street and 14th Street.

There had been some speculation as to who might show up to oppose the measure--after all, last week ANC2B commissioner Ramon Estrada had written a letter on behalf of the ANC's Zoning and Historic Preservation Committee expressing opposition to the matter. Estrada, however, was nowhere to be found at yesterday's meeting, and in fact ANC2B voted unanimously at their last meeting to support the recommendations of the ANC2F Arts Overlay Committee to raise the cap on bars and restaurants to 50% of retail frontage.

The measure seems set to pass in spite of some concerns related to increased traffic and noise in the neighborhood brought on by the density of restaurants and bars. For various reasons, the oft-made comparisons to Adams-Morgan aren't really applicable for 14th or U Street--even though the neighborhood is quickly becoming one of DC's preeminent drinking and dining destinations. As to the concerns about parking, well, we're somewhat sympathetic, but with Metro, the Circulator, buses and taxis...why would you drive? (Yes, I'm talking to you, guy from Virginia who can't seem to figure out DC's grid layout and takes 20 minutes to park in a space the size of a mobile home.)

Still, there is a recognition that holding back 70-75% of retail frontage for non-food and drink-serving establishments is too high, particularly in the current environment. As local broker Blake Dickson stated at the meeting, "today in our market, the only thing working is food and beverage."

Thus, with no real opposition, and strong community support for the measure, it seems that one of the most critical issues needed to ensure the continued growth of the 14th and U Street corridors will move forward. The Zoning Commission will meet on June 28 for a final vote on the measure, which barring some unforeseen developments, appears all but assured of passing.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Point Chaud Creperie is Open for Business

Remember last year when we thought for a time that there might be two creperies opening across from each other near the intersection of 14th and S streets? Well, one of those--"Crepes on the Corner"--which was slated to go into the former Garden District space has since moved over to Capitol Hill (or, "Hill East" if you're getting specific about it).

The second, Point Chaud, took its time moving into the former Circle Boutique space next to clothing retailer Redeem, but this weekend they finally opened their doors.

Here's my crazy, off-the-wall prediction for this place: this place will do mad business. Mr. and Mrs. 14thandyou stopped by yesterday evening; it was pretty quiet, as to be expected on a Sunday evening by a restaurant that just had a soft opening.

Point Chaud has a lengthy list of both savory and sweet crepes to enjoy (for anyone who has never enjoyed a nutella-filled crepe, you have missed out on one of life's finer little enjoyments). Each of us decided on a chicken-filled crepe: I went with sautee, and the Mrs. went with grilled. Both were very good--fresh ingredients, good flavor and well-sized. They didn't skimp on the filling, either. My one complaint is that it would be helpful to garnish the plate a bit to aid in the presentation--a little side of fruit, or event some parsley can go a long way.

They did a nice job with the build-out of the interior space, which features about a dozen tables and chairs, along with a few outdoor seats as well.

Perhaps Point Chaud's greatest attribute is its price. One of the consistent gripes we have heard about restaurant options in Logan and along 14th Street is that there are so few decent, low-cost options. Well, Point Chaud certainly helps to fill that void: two people can easily get crepes and drinks there for under $20. Many of the dessert crepes are in the $4-$5. As much as we may enjoy Cork and Saint-Ex, it's nice to have a good, lower-cost option in the neighborhood.

Point Chaud will be openfor breakfast at 7 AM during the week, a bit later on weekends (memo to file: good potential cheap brunch spot.) Monday through Wednesday, they will stay open till 10 PM, Thursdays through Saturdays they will be open until 3 AM, and will close at 9 PM on Sundays.

I couldn't locate a website for these guys (if you know of it, please post in the comments), but I can tell you that the crepe selection is plentiful. Overall a very good first impression, and we'll definitely be going back.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Changes in Store at Modern Liquors; New Microbrewery Coming?

This afternoon, we received the following message from Jeff Harrison, (former) owner of Modern Liquors at 9th and M streets:

FYI, after today I will no longer have any involvement with Modern Liquors. The new owner fired my staff last night, and as a result, I've decided that I need a clean break. The Modern Liquors you know today is the result of my hard work, and it was my desire to reap the rewards, but obviously that's not going to happen. It's highly unlikely that I'll open another shop, however, I have been approached by the infamous District Liquors (11th St.) to revamp their store just as I did with Modern. I'll let you know if/when things become official.

For anyone who attended Modern Liquors' frequent wine and spirits tastings, you know that Jeff's friendliness and personality were a significant reason to patronize the establishment. He took what was basically a run-of-the-mill liquor store and, through frequent tastings and events (including some lovely cheese and chocolate pairings) transformed it into an enjoyable and unique establishment. We can only hope that the new owner continues operating the business in a similar vein.

Along similar lines, Jeff also makes mention that he and a group of friends are embarking on opening a microbrewery they intend to call "Logan Shaw". They are aiming to open the microbrewery, which will begin with three varieties, by "early 2011" at an as-yet-undetermined location.

If plans for the microbrewery get off the ground, I have to think that will be a winning enterprise. Lord knows the wine bar idea is quickly getting tapped out, and ChurchKey has firmly entrenched itself as the area go-to for a wide and obscure beer selection. The next logical choice, as far as alcoholic-themed establishments go, would be a mircobrewery--something DC has lacked ever since the Heurich Brewing Company packed up and left town.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ready, Set, Run! P Street Retail Shuffle

Many is the time that I have commented to Mrs. 14th & You that I wondered how stationery store The Written Word managed to remain in business in such a high-rent location as the 1400 block of P Street. They hardly ever seemed to be open, and the selection was a bit strange.

Well, as it turns out, they no longer are open have moved to a new location at 1926 17th Street. Coming in July to the space next to Logan Tavern is the latest branch of local running store chain Pacers. Combined with female athletic apparel chain Lululemon a little further down the block, you will be able to have most of your athletic apparel needs met on P Street (guys may have to do a little searching)--thus allowing you to burn off the calories you are no doubt putting on during your frequent trips to Pitango and the new Whole Foods Grill. (And if all of that credit card swiping has got you stressed out, head across the street to Flow Yoga for a little peace of mind.) DC didn't earn the title of America's Fittest City for nothing, you know.

Speaking of Whole Foods, they are in the midst of some rather significant renovations to their store. You've probably already noticed the change to the outdoor sidewalk seating arrangements, which actually took their seating capacity down by about 30 people (believe it or not), but actually makes for a more enjoyable experience. Next on the agenda: significant interior renovations, including a new mezzanine level cafe, new prepared food stations, an artisanal pizza oven (which is all the rage these days), and other store improvements. Borderstan has the full run-down.

According to the store's GM, the renovations should be complete by November. In the meantime, they will be kicking up some dust in their store, and warn that "some items might not be in their normal location". Which means you may have to go a bit out of your way to find the Weird Spiders section.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Back From Holiday: Around the Blogosphere

Hello everyone, and apologies for the lack of updates around here recently. Between the holiday and lots of family-related stuff, there just hasn't been a lot of time for neighborhood stuff. One of the explanations for the recent lull in posts is that Mrs. 14thandyou recently completed her graduate school coursework in elementary education. We're very proud of her, and are thankful that there are people out there like her who are willing to put up with the little brats.

With that aside, we're pleased to bring you some interesting tidbits recently from around what the beloved former senator from Alaska referred to as "the series of tubes":

Borderstan has the story on an arrest and charge in the recent stabbing death of a Silver Spring man on 9th Street. (Also, check out Borderstan's new layout--it's pretty snazzy.)

DC Metrocentric has a great shot of the building at 14th and T that is set to become furniture retailer Room and Board, from its days as an auto showroom. Model Ts for everyone!

U Street Girl has the story about a new deli coming in at a long-abandoned spot at 12th and S streets. Interestingly, the owner appears to be the former head of a DC charter school who did some time for his involvement in a computer theft ring.

D.C. Foodies discovers poutine at ChurchKey. How do the Quebecois say "My arteries have the need of the Drano?"

Should DC relax its height restriction? That is the question posed by DC Mud, who looks at the way other cities--such as Paris--have integrated tall structures into their cityscapes while maintaining their unique skylines. One neighborhood suggested as a potential future home for 40 story buildings is Chevy Chase. 'Tis a mighty shame Frank Winstead is no longer on the ANC in order to protest that one.