The opening of new restaurants on 14th Street has been prolific enough to merit attention from the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. These papers might want to turn their attention to Shaw, which is seeing three new restaurants and one beer garden open within a two-week period. All of these new places are within a mile of LeDroit Park.
In time for Oktoberfest, Dacha beer garden opened Wednesday at 1600 7th Street to serve a variety of American, German, and Belgian beers. Dacha, like the Garden District beer garden (née Standard) on 14th Street, will close for the winter. After Dacha closes for the season, the owners will start construction on a permanent building to house the kitchen and bar.
Dacha is open weekdays from 4 pm to 10:30 pm and on weekends from noon to midnight.
Tomorrow from 2 pm to 3 pm, Mayor Gray is cutting the ribbon for three other restaurants, Mandalay, Thally, and Baby Wale.
After you finish your beer at Dacha, walk two blocks to Mandalay at 1501 9th Street, a site that has been in the works for several years. Though the building has been finished for some time, the restaurant, which sits on the ground floor, will open Sunday night for dinner.
Mandalay serves Burmese food, including many vegetarian options. The restaurant will serve eight family-style dishes at seatings at 5:30 pm and 7:30 pm Tuesdays through Sundays. Bring your wallet, though, as the prix-fixe menu is $40 on weekdays and $50 on weekends.
If you’re not in the mood for Burmese food, walk two blocks south on 9th Street to Thally (1316 9th Street), which opened last week. The restaurant, pronounced like ‘tally’, serves “modern American” food. First course items range from $8 to $10 and include peach and prosciutto soup, fancy BLTs, and crab roulette. Main course items range from $17 to $28 and include roasted duck, delmonico steak, and rockfish.
Thally is open from 5 pm to 11:30 pm Tuesdays through Sundays.
Baby Wale (I hope that’s not a menu item!)
If you’re more in the mood for wine and snacks, continue walking two blocks south to Baby Wale (1124 9th Street), a project of the Tom Power, who started Corduroy next door. Baby Wale, which opened last week, is far more casual than its upscale neighbor and serves soups, salads, sandwiches and “upscale bar food”. As for alcohol, the place serves specialty cocktails, 80 different bottles of wine, and six draft beers.
Baby Wale opens at 5 pm Mondays through Saturdays.
It’s amazing how quickly new restaurants are opening on Shaw’s primary main streets. Even more food options are on the way as Progression Place’s storefronts continue to fill and as the new Giant opens in November at 7th and O Streets.
|Dacha||1600 7th St||0.6 mi||beer garden|
|Mandalay||1501 9th St||0.7 mi||Burmese|
|Thally||1316 9th St||0.8 mi||Modern American|
|Baby Wale||1124 9th St||1.0 mi||wine and bar food|
Progression Place’s retail spaces are nearly leased out. Here is a list of what’s coming:
- Wanda’s—The hair salon that existed before construction started.
- SiTea— The second location for this Takoma-based tea shop.
- Bank of America
- Mockingbird Hill (already open)— Bar specializing in sherry and ham. [Read an earlier post on it]
- Eat the Rich— Oyster house from the owners of Mockingbird Hill.
- Sprint— Cell phone store
- (vacant retail bay)
- Fishnet— The second location for this Berwyn Heights-based, Mediterranean seafood and sandwich shop.
- Uprising Muffins
Here is the official leasing prospectus from Streetsense, the project’s retail broker.
The much-anticipated Progression Place, the development at the Shaw Metro is nearing completion. The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) moved into the office building back in October, purchasing half of the 100,000 square feet of office space. There is no word yet on who the other office tenants will be.
Not your father’s sherry
The retail spaces are opening up, with sherry bar Mockingbird Hill (1843 7th St NW) taking the lead on June 7th. Mockingbird Hill is the brainchild of mixologist Derek Brown, his mixologist wife Chantal Tseng, and business partner Angie Salame. Mr. Brown also owns The Passenger and The Columbia Room on 7th Street opposite the Convention Center. Ms. Tseng comes to Mockingbird Hill from the Tabard Inn, where she ran the bar.
Mr. Brown and Ms. Tseng are the powerhouse couple in the DC cocktail scene. The husband and wife duo is determined to introduce a sherry craze in the District. The bar features over 50 types of sherry and offers several types of carved ham. Mockingbird Hill is inspired by the ham and sherry bars of Spain, but the interior exposes brick and hangs vintage filament bulbs like many of the hip bars around town.
Can Mr. Brown and Ms. Tseng sell enough sherry to people other than British retirees to stay in business? Only time will tell, but the husband and wife team is also planning two adjacent ventures, including an oyster bar delightfully named Eat the Rich, slated to open at 1839 7th Street next month. Chesapeake Bay oysters were once abundant and cheap, making 19th century Washington a hotbed of oyster restaurants.
Another business is brewing
Around the corner at 624 T Street, Nathan Zeender, John Snedden, and Thor Cheston are fitting out the former Cafe Manowaj space to open the Right Proper brewpub. The microbrewery will serve Belgian-style ales and sour beers and allow customers to carry out their beers in growlers.
We will update you as we hear about more retail tenants opening in the building. Until then, admire Right Proper’s storefront copperwork.
To reduce the liklihood that patrons will park on residential streets around the Howard Theatre, the theatre will sell prepaid private parking through Ticketmaster. The passes are for private lots owned by Howard University and other private owners.
In fact, we were looking on Ticketmaster at prices and availability for April’s Wanda Sykes show and spotted this prominent parking add-on at the bottom:
The lots described above are as follows:
- Valet shuttle Lot B – Howard University’s large parking lot at Georgia Avenue and W Street.
- Self-parking Lot A – Howard University’s HURB-I parking lot at 7th & T Streets.
- Premier Valet – private triangle lot at T Street and Florida Avenue, across from the theater.
When Progression Place, the office and apartment project at the Shaw Metro, finally opens, the theatre will lay claim to a significant number of the project’s underground parking spaces during nighttime hours, thus adding a another option.
Come meet Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D – DC) at Tuesday’s meeting of the LeDroit Park Civic Association. The meeting will be on Tuesday, March 27 at 7 pm at the Florida Avenue Baptist Church (enter at U and Bohrer Streets NW).
Ms. Norton is this month’s guest speaker. We’re inclined to ask her about National Park Service (NPS) stewardship of the many parks and reservations in DC. The NPS runs Logan Circle, Dupont Circle, Farragut Square, and other parks within the L’Enfant Plan, but does a poor job of programming and managing these parks.
We will also hav e representatives from Progression Place, the construction site at the Shaw Metro, update us on the progress of their project.
This is the second in a series on the Scurlock photo archive. Read the first entry.
During the Jazz Age of the 1920s and later into the 1930s, U Street was dubbed the “black Broadway” as it featured such venues as the Lincoln Colonnade (now the Lincoln Theater), the Howard Theatre, and other clubs and restaurants. In a segregated city in which blacks were excluded from most restaurants, theaters, and stores, U Street served as a refuge to catch a show and enjoy a meal.
[Toggling between now and then photos will not work in RSS readers. View the actual post]
We have referred to this area as the block of blight for its dilapidated buildings, copious litter, and frequent police arrests. It turns out that some things never change. Even when this photograph was taken, U Street was not uniform in character and the area around the Howard Theatre was considered downscale compared to the classier venues west on U Street. (For more on U Street’s evolution, see Blair Ruble’s recent book, Washington’s U Street: A Biography.)
Pictured here at the corner is National Grill, which, like Harrison’s Café in LeDroit Park, advertised itself as open all night. The lighted vertical sign attached to the façade appears to read “LUNCH” and the pediment at the cornice bears the building’s name, “Scott’s”. (View a larger version of the photo.)
Just to the right (south) of National Grill is the S.W. Keys Luncheonette, whose vertical sign advertises coffee and waffles. Just south of that is Harlem Cafe, located in a building that has since been replaced.
On T Street, just behind Scott’s Building and just before the Howard Theatre, you will see a sign that reads “BILLIARDS”. That marks Frank Holliday’s pool hall, a popular gathering spot for Howard scholars, jazz musicians, and city laborers alike. Duke Ellington captured the scene at the pool hall:
Guys from all walks of life seemed to converge there: school kids over and under sixteen; college students and graduates, some starting out in law and medicine and science; and lots of Pullman porters and dining-car waiters.
Just beyond the pool hall, you’ll see the Howard Theatre sporting its original Italianate façade. The theater was later covered with plaster, which was only recently removed for the restoration project.
Today the last two buildings on 7th Street are a Chinese take-out and a tiny market. One of the developers of Progression Place, the large development project underway on the block (rendering below), said that the late owner of these two buildings refused to sell to his development. Progression Place will incorporate every building on this block except for these two.
If anyone is looking for a two-building restoration project, here is your chance!
This email came through the neighborhood listserv.
On Saturday evening at 7pm en route to Shaw metro north entrance, I was jumped from behind and wrestled to the ground by a teenage thief trying to steal my iphone. Rather than risk being stabbed, I let go of the iphone. What is disturbing is that this is a busy road with many pedestrians walking by, yet not one person stopped to help, including the shopkeepers stood on the doorsteps. When I asked for assistance, I was told to use the payphone on the corner of 7th and T which is where the gang of teenagers preying on their victims hang out in the evening – including the evening I was attacked. There were 10 or 12 on the corner of 7th and T and all fled after I was robbed. A good Samaritan let me use his cellphone to call the police who arrived in under two minutes. They said they are aware of the gang on 7th and T and have been monitoring them, yet the brazen robberies and attacks in broad daylight continue unabated.
Given the proximity to the Howard Theater, I’m sure this kind of publicity will not be welcomed given the Theater’s planned reopening later this year. I have now been forced to avoid the Shaw metro and will take the U Street Cordoza location instead. Anyone walking in the vicinity of 7th and T should hide their cellphones. Ironically, I am a playwright, my most recent work being about race relations in DC. It is poignant I was attacked in the shadow of Howard Theater.
What a terrible incident, but we’re glad nobody was hurt.
The Block of Blight (600 block of T Street NW) is a perennial source of criminality, as confirmed by the MDP’s regular listing of arrests. The frequency of crime at the corner of Seventh and T Streets warrants a more frequent police presence that the area lacks.
We usually walk our friends to the Metro late at night lest they fall victim to this sort of incivility. Blight encourages crime and both are on display near the Shaw Metro Station. We gently, but consistently, remind visitors that the station and surrounding blight are actually in the Shaw neighborhood, not LeDroit Park, but hopefully we won’t have to reiterate that nuance forever.
Renovations on the Howard Theatre have already begun and the developer for the mixed-use UNCF project at the Metro assures us that the groundbreaking for that project is a month or two away.
Developers of several large projects in Shaw adhere to the Macbeth method when promising groundbreakings: tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.
But this summer is shaping up— keep your fingers crossed— to be a constructive one for Shaw. After decades of disinvestment, decay, and neglect, much of Shaw’s physical environment has already healed. Some star-crossed exceptions include the area around the Shaw Metro station’s north entrance, which emerges from the ground to a large empty lot, a row of boarded-up shops, a vacant Hostess factory, and a vacant theater. A terrible first impression of Shaw.
If action is eloquence, then the poetry begins in August.
August 22, 2010 – Howard Theatre
August 2010 – UNCF Headquarters
It seems like only yesterday Radio One unceremoniously withdrew from the Broadcast Center One project to be built at the Shaw Metro’s north entrance. Lo and behold, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) swooped in to fill the void. The District cemented the deal by offering UNCF $5.1 million in tax abatement and relocation subsidies. The project will include 50,000 square feet for UNCF’s offices, a college information center, as well as 180 (or 133?) housing units. Work on the project will also commence in August 2010 and finish sometime in 2012.
September 2, 2010 – O Street Market
Just down Seventh Street between O and P Streets is the shell of a Victorian-era market designed by German-born Washington architect Adolf Cluss. The project includes condos, apartments, senior housing, a hotel, parking, retail, and a new Giant to be built behind the extant walls of the old market (rendering above). The project will also re-establish Eighth Street NW between O and P Streets NW. Construction will begin on September 2 and the current Giant will close and be demolished early next year.
It’s confirmed. A 7-11 is coming to the corner of Georgia and Florida Avenues just outside the LeDroit Park Historic District. Douglas Development Corporation, the building’s owner and one of the city’s biggest developers, has confirmed to our ANC commissioner that 7-11 has signed a lease for part of the first floor space.
Pharmacare, which has not opened yet, occupies the Georgia Avenue front on the first floor (photo above, left side) and 7-11 will occupy the Florida Avenue front (center and right side). The choice of leasing the space to 7-11 has sparked a small controversy as many residents were hoping for something a tad more upscale than than discount drugs (you can buy the illegal kind a block away at the corner of Seventh & T) and a chain convenience store.
Some residents have expressed the desire to see a cafe, gym, or a full-fledged grocery store open up in or near LeDroit Park.
The LeDroit Park Market does indeed sell coffee, but residents looking for an espresso fix have to wander on over to the Starbucks at W Street and Georgia Avenue. There are rumors of a cafe coming to the old Pyramids Restaurant space in the building currently under renovation at Sixth Street and Florida Avenue, but we haven’t received details yet.
The siting of a grocery store is more difficult. The nature of grocery shopping tends to require parking more so than most other commercial uses do, so any grocer would probably only consider spaces with underground garages or outdoor lots. Few properties nearby meet this requirement, except for the United Planning Organization headquarters at Second Street and Rhode Island Avenue (pictured below). For decades it was a Safeway, but since UPO has no plans to move, we can rule out the building as a potential site.
Another potential site might be the Wonderbread Factory (pictured below) on S Street by the north entrance to the Shaw Metro. It’s currently owned by Douglas Development, but has been vacant for quite a while. At nearly 40,000 square feet over two floors, the building might be a good candidate for a grocery store. With the UNCF headquarters about to break ground this summer just across the alleyway, perhaps the two developers could come to an agreement to provide some underground spaces to patrons to a potential store next door.
The O Street Market project, supposed to bring a 57,000-square-foot Giant is still years away as is the proposed grocery store for the parking lots at W Street and Georgia Avenue. Any potential grocer might fear an over-saturation of competition.
What amenities would you like to see in or adjacent LeDroit Park?
Tomorrow (Tuesday) night is the monthly meeting of the LeDroit Park Civic Association. On the agenda:
- Park update
- 1922 Third Street presentation – Developer Grant Epstein will present his proposal for a third time.
- UNCF – UNCF’s CFO Early Reese and Four Points developer Steven Cassell will present the latest details on the development at the Shaw Metro station.
The meeting will run from 7 pm to 8:30 pm at the Florida Avenue Baptist Church.