Heard on the Hill – September 2017

126
Smash hit ChiKo, an Asian spot in the space formerly occupied by DC-3, at 423 8th St. SE . Photo: Andrew Lightman

Hello friends. I have missed you! I hope you all enjoyed your summer. According to my social media feeds, those of you not at the beach were in Iceland or the great American West. So very nice to see you all living your best lives.

Me? Oh, I hit Rehoboth for a weekend, so, comme ci, comme ca. I’m just happy we are all back together.

My deadline for the September Hill Rag fell on the first day of school for DCPS. It was our elder son’s last first day, since he is a senior and I anticipate an emotional year filled with sentimentality paired with a desperate scrambling for college scholarships. Therefore I appreciate the brief distraction this column provides me.

Life is about adapting to change, and that is a recurring theme in DC. It has been a constant here on the Hill for many years now, and we live with the evidence and occasional inconvenience of it every day. Giant cranes are everywhere. Each trip around the neighborhood typically involves some amount of orange-cone dodging and waiting for a construction worker with a Stop sign to flip it and wave you through, and … oh, not now. Why are they closing the street?!

Many Hill residents and visitors are awaiting the delivery of a long-anticipated project this fall. The former Hine Junior High School project by Stanton/Eastbanc will be welcoming residents and new businesses in the very near future. While the size and design of the project did not please everyone, I can assume even the most ardent opposition will be at least relieved when the construction is over.

Who will be our new neighbors? There may have been a minor freakout on these pages when the first tenant was announced. I realize that not everyone is a Trader Joe’s fan, but perhaps they have yet to succumb to the enticing, fun-sized bags of chocolate-covered almonds that beckon from the checkout aisle? Even the foodie purists among us can get down with a bag of chili lime cashews.

While we don’t do our weekly shopping there, we do go for a few treats. One of my kids has celiac disease, and the mini gluten-free cupcakes available at Trader Joe’s are his kryptonite. He is powerless before them, and a dozen has never lasted an hour here. Now that I type this, don’t let my son know. He will be a short bike ride away.

The powers that be behind the development have released the names of several other businesses soon to take up residence. Dairy enthusiasts will rejoice that Trickling Springs Creamery will have a store. If you have ever stopped by their stand at Union Market you know they make fabulous ice cream and yogurt as well as carry other basic dairy items. The company is owned by a Mennonite family and is closed in Sundays. I feel I need to warn you because I have made the mistake of promising my kids a milkshake, only to find the stand quiet, though one could not say the same about the disappointed children.

Other business will soon be announced, and I have heard some rumors, but I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up for a Hill location of a comprehensive beauty product store.

Local juice purveyor Jrink is expanding to the Hine location too. Known for creating juice cleanse programs meant to recharge or detox your system from your hectic French-fry-oriented lifestyle. Each location also offers made-to-order smoothies, healthy lattes, and acai bowls. Balance!

The doctors from Brookland’s District Vet will open a location at Hine too, bringing more caregivers for the neighborhood’s ever-growing pet population.

I’m intrigued by Antiocha, a business which imports a variety of textiles from Turkey, particularly towels and blankets. I’m a recent convert to the whole Turkish towel phenomenon (so absorbent and yet so thin!), so I look forward to upgrading our towel situation locally.

Barracks Row saw the opening of the smash ChiKo, an Asian spot in the space formerly occupied by DC-3. The neighborhood now boasts another hot new destination for diners from the neighborhood and beyond. As of this writing I have yet to try it and I have no one to blame but myself.

Spanish cider giants at Anxo have opened Porron, where diners can enjoy cider, cocktails, wine, beer, and snacks. Further down the Row we said goodbye to Capital Teas and hello to the Vanity Box. Vanity Box is a one-stop shop for hair extensions and is the first DC location for the New York-based chain.

Students in new upstairs yoga studio at Realignment Studio.

Local yogis rejoiced when the space formerly occupied by Capitol Hill Yoga was reopened by a former teacher, Alyson Shade, with help from one of the former CHY owners, Betsy Poos. The venture, called Realignment Studio, also occupies the light-filled top floor of the building. Realignment offers yoga and meditation classes throughout the day and also has a small retail space selling mats, essential oils, shirts, and beads. Full disclosure: I am on the teaching staff there and therefore wear yoga pants every day, which is exactly as awesome as you imagine it is.

Hilleast
The Pretzel Bakery has finally realized we cannot be without their pillowy-soft carb creations for even one day and has begun opening on Monday. Just knowing I have the option for Monday pretzels has been a life-changer.

Soon to come is the Capital Candy Jar. These folks have been producing sweets at Union Kitchen for a few years and selling them in a variety of businesses. The new location, on 15th Street SE, will offer Hill dwellers another opportunity to indulge in chocolate-covered deliciousness.

The ever-expanding Neighborhood Restaurant Group announced it is moving into the newly developed space at 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. The group is behind such ventures as Ear Bar on Barracks Row, Bluejacket in Yards Park, and other restaurants in the Washington area. No specifics have been announced beyond the fact that there will be a beer venture as well as a coffee bar.

H Street
H Street is in the middle of total transformation. The 80s-era strip mall H Street Connection was recently torn down and replaced by a gigantic hole in the ground and is quite a way from housing any retail. New buildings with ground-floor retail space are close to completion at Fifth and 14th streets, while the new Apollo has welcomed Whole Foods and the local coffee/drinks spot the Wyedown.

Soon to come is an expanded location for longtime H Street bike shop The Daily Rider and … a bookstore! I am sorry but I really cannot contain myself. We were told Amazon would kill independent booksellers, but apparently that’s the only small retail that is making a comeback against the Bezos behemoth. Two former managers of the Dupont Circle mainstay Kramerbooks will soon open Solid State Books. The owners plan for a wide selection of new books and a cafe selling coffee, pastries, beer, and wine. The space will host children’s storytimes as well as other events. No opening date has been announced, so stay tuned.

Happy fall! Be kind to each other and shop local!

 

Jen DeMayo has been a waitress, an actor, and a puppeteer. She worked for many years for the Atlas Performing Arts Center, which has resulted in her being a relentless H Street booster/streetcar apologist. Originally from the New York-New Jersey area, she is one of the many who whine endlessly about DC’s lack of good bagels and pizza. She is the mom to two boys who attend DC Public Schools (off the Hill). No matter what she may end up accomplishing in her life, she is sure that her obituary headline will say she was the founder of Moms on the Hill. Contact Jen at jendemayo@gmail.com.