Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Faith and Freedom Conference at the Renaissance this weekend

This weekend the Faith & Freedom Conference will take place at the Renaissance Hotel in our neighborhood.  

This conservative conference means a lot of big names--and presidential candidates--will be in our neighborhood this weekend.

Confirmed attendees to the conference include:
  • Jon Huntsman
  • Donald Trump
  • Mitt Romney
  • George Allen
  • Michelle Bachmann
  • Bill Bennet
  • Ken Cuccinelli
  • Haley Barbour
  • John Boehner
  • Herman Cain
  • Eric Cantor
  • Rand Paul
  • Ron Paul
  • Tim Pawlenty
  • Mike Pence
  • Paul Ryan
  • Rich Santorum
A complete list of all confirmed speakers is available here.

Free Penn Quarter Scavenger Hunt

The Game, a company that organizes scavenger hunts in New York and other large cities, is coming to Washington. 

One of their scavenger hunts is based in Penn Quarter.  You get clues by text message on your phone, which allows you to start the hunt whenever you want.

The Penn Quarter hunt begins at Ford's TheatreTo promote their new territory, they are letting people play for FREE.   You can get your free tickets here.

Here is their description of the scavenger hunt based on our neighborhood:

"Explore an area that's as diverse as it is fascinating. From Ford's Theater to the Museum of Crime and Punishment, you'll discover some of the darkest locations in DC History. Make friends with legendary Americans at the National Portrait Gallery before learning to translate Mandarin in DC's Chinatown. Decipher inscriptions at the old Calvary Church, and you may just get a C-I-A for effort at the National Spy Museum. Navigate your way to the Navy Memorial, where navy SEALs welcome you with open arms. You'll be so enamored with DC by the time you finish; you'll be texting in all CAPITALS."

Luke's Lobster in Review

After a sweltering hot Memorial Day weekend, Penn Quarter Insider wrapped up the holiday with a new neighborhood treat: Luke's Lobster. Despite the block long lines last week, we were able to order right away from their pretty simple menu: crab, shrimp and lobster rolls, some bisques and chowders, crab claws, chips, sodas, and combinations thereof. 

The decor inside is relaxed and nautically themed - very appropriate since the proprietors are brothers from Maine.  It's comfortable and welcoming, and a great option if you're looking to take out (though there is counter space there to eat-in).

The lobster roll we ordered (how could we not) was up in a few short minutes, and we took it to go. The roll was snuggly wrapped and survived the short commute home perfectly. At first glance, we were a bit disappointed in the size of it - particularly since the sandwich alone is $15 (add chips and a drink for an extra $2).  However, after the first bite, we knew our $15 was extremely well spent.

The roll was chock full of perfectly spiced lobster and nothing else - no fillers.   While you can request no butter or mayo on your roll, we wouldn't change a single thing about it (the mayo was barely perceptible, and lobster connoisseurs know butter is a necessary condiment to lobster). True, the roll itself isn't huge, but it includes so much lobster and is just so downright delicious that one roll satisfied our dinner craving.

Welcome to the neighborhood, Luke's!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Person missing last seen at 9th and H

Matthew Hill
You feel pretty safe at 9th and H, usually.  With the lights of Cuba Libre, and all the action around.  However, Matthew Hill, a 26-year-old male from North Carolina, was last seen at that corner before he went missing.

Hill worked for Campus Outreach D.C., sponsored by Capitol Hill Baptist Church.  He dropped of a GWU student that he had been mentoring at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday and hasn't been seen since.

After he was last seen, his debit card was used twice and his cell phone has been shut off.  His car is also missing, and his debit card was used at a parking lot in D.C. and then a gas station in Arlington.

Hill is 6 feet 1 and 175 pounds, with light brown hair and brown eyes.  He was driving a 1991Black Honda Civic with D.C. tags: DT - 2747.

If you have any information on his whereabouts, please call the police at 202-727-9099.

901 opened yesterday, is now on OpenTable

As expected, 901 Restaurant opened yesterday in the Renaissance Hotel

The restaurant is also now on OpenTable, but was offline as of this writing.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Farmers Market specials

It's already Thursday again, which means it's Farmers Market day on 8th Street.

Today, the Washington Post reports, the following will be available:

  • Mountain View Farm will have speckled trout lettuce for $3 a head and fresh basil

  • The Farm at Sunnyside will have fresh carrots for $3.75 per bunch and green onions

  • Groff's Content will have fresh chicken (unfrozen) for $4.50 per pound.

Luke's is open!

Luke's Lobster is open today and there is a line out the door.

A person on twitter, @hoyainnovation, put this picture up of the line, which stretches down the sidewalk:

and here is what the inside looks like:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mayor proposes a theatre tax

Currently, the theatre is exempt from sales tax; however, the Mayor's new budget includes extending the 6% sales tax to all live performances

The Washington Times reports that "now-thriving areas such as Penn Quarter arts and entertainment district would be especially hard hit, with its restaurants, shops and parking garages empty as arts patrons stay home or take their business outside of the city."  Restaurants charge a 10% sales tax and parking garages charge 12%.

On the other hand, the theatre is often the realm of the elite.  Shouldn't it be taxed like everything else?  Or are taxes too high and a tax such as this will only ruin the culture of our neighborhood? 

The amendment is broadly written, and presumably will include the Verizon Center as well.

D.C. is uniquely situated in that two states are easily accessible.  Plays can certainly relocate to just outside of D.C. and, with the new tax, offer a bargain.  Not to mention that a lot of suburbanites are encouraged by the theatre to come into D.C. and pay our restaurant tax and parking tax.  But would an extra 6% tax really deter them?  Would it cause plays to relocate?

Creativity and Drinks in Penn Quarter

Because everything is better with a drink in your hand, the Paper Collective is having arts, crafts . . . and drinks.

The Paper Collective is a group of artists and writers in Washington and Brooklyn dedicated to promoting creativity.  They request artistic submissions monthly and put them on their website, though they insist the exercise is not good art, but just exercising your imagination.

The Washington Post reports that the group is holding a launch party at Gold Leaf Studio (443 Eye Street N.W.) with live music, prizes, crafts, and drinks.

A suggested donation of $10 is asked and will benefit Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, a nonprofit arts organization.

More information is available here.


Politico's Morning Money spotted  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor arriving for dinner at Brasserie Beck last night.

Morning Money's Ben White said Cantor looked calm and was schmoozing.

Ben White is in town for a Playbook Breakfast this morning.  Secretary Tim Geithner joined the Politico pundits at the Newseum.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Luke's Lobster is open . . . almost

We were shocked when we walked by Luke's Lobster and saw it packed with people.  At first, we thought they were open - a surprise opening, ahead of their (rumored) Thursday opening.

Upon closer look, none of the people had food.  And they all were listening to someone speak, it seems.   Maybe they were training staff?   Or it could be a soft opening.

Either way, Luke's should definitely be open by Thursday - a big day in Penn Quarter!


Apparently, Jessica Alba stopped into Bistro Bis today.   No word on what she ate or who she was with.

Alba was in Washington today lobbying on behalf of the Safe Chemicals Act, which seeks to improve the safety of consumer products and increase public awareness about product quality.

E Street closed between 3rd and 5th streets

The eastbound side of E Street is closed between 3rd and 5th Streets.  Traffic is detouring around on either F Street or D Street.

We thought this was a temporary closure when we saw it yesterday morning (during rush hour), but it was still closed this morning.

No DDOT press release mentioned the closing and it is not listed on their list of traffic advisories.  We have reached out to DDOT to try and get an answer about how long it will be closed.  Right now, we are not sure.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Luke's Lobster opening on Thursday?

Thursday is looking to be a big day in Penn Quarter.

Penn Quarter Living is reporting that Luke's Lobster is opening on Thursday as well.

A quick opening for a restaurant that just began construction.   Luke's has been tremendously successful in Manhattan and we expect it's going to have a big opening on Thursday.

We have peeked inside the building and noticed cedar shakes, which should make for a great atmosphere for lobster rolls.

Previous posts about Luke's Lobster:

901 opening on Thursday?

While it is far from confirmed, Prince of Petworth heard from a tipster that 901 Restaurant is opening on Thursday.

This is, however, in line with our expectations.  The restaurant was supposed to open in April and received an after-hours work permit to catch up.  They began hiring several weeks ago and promised a May opening.  Time is running out.

Previous Posts about 901 Restaurant:

Metro looking to change station names

Archives-Navy Mem'l-Penn Quarter - it's a mouthful.   It also gets confused with Navy Yard sometimes, and everyone seems to refer to it as a different part of that long name.  Gallery Pl-Chinatown isn't much better.

Now, with a lot of improvements and changes coming to Metro, WMATA is looking to change the name of stations to make them more accessible.

The Washington Examiner reports that Metro wants to have simplified names in place by August 1st, and may be giving riders some input.

The issue, of course, is making them easy for tourists and workable for residents.  Originally, station names were supposed to be no more than 19 characters long, and only 13 characters for transfer points, such as Gallery Pl-Chinatown.  That rule has obviously been ignored.

The sign and map changes is expected to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but they are doing this project now because the yellow and blue lines have to be realigned and purple line additions have to be made anyway.

What do you think the Penn Quarter metro stations should be named?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ford's Theatre Gala on June 5

Ford's Theatre's annual gala will be on June 5th this year at Ford's Theatre, where there will be a host of performances, and will be followed by a seated dinner at the National Portrait Gallery.

The evening will include a presentation of the Lincoln Medal to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Julie Andrews.  The award is given to someone who "through their body of work, accomplishments or personal attributes, exemplify the lasting legacy, and mettle of character embodied by . . .  President Abraham Lincoln."

First Lady Michelle Obama serves as the honorary chair of the gala. 

You can get tickets here, and more information is available here.

Update: Tickets are not available through Ticketmaster as we originally posted, they are only available through the Ford's Theatre Development Office.   You can email rsvp@fords.org for more information and to buy tickets.


Word has it that Senator John McCain was spotted having dinner at The Source on Monday night with his chief of staff, Mark Buse.

The chef apparently sent out a tuna cones and dumpling platter as a starter.  The Senator and his Chief of Staff then shared a whole fish and a steak with  a side of lobster fried rice.   For dessert, they indulged in the blueberry crumble.

Sixth and Rye rolls out today

It's almost lunch time and Sixth and Rye, the kosher food truck started by celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn, rolls out today.   See our previous post about the truck here.

Today, it will--not surprisingly--be at Sixth and Eye Streets N.W.  Though it will not always be there.  It begins serving today at 11:30 a.m. 

The menu includes items like corned beef, a veggie wrap, and Israeli Conscious Salad.

You can follow the food truck on twitter @sixthandrye.  Check out the menu here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Penn Quarter Farmer's Market today

It's Thursday, another Farmer's Market day on 8th Street.

Today, we hear from the Washington Post, that Toigo Orchards will have tomatoes; The Farm at Sunnyside will have eggs and asparagus; and Copper Pot Food Company will have mushroom ragu.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mystics get a new basketball court

If you go to a Mystics game, you may notice they have a new court at the Verizon Center

Here are a couple pictures of the new floor:

Penn Quarter boasts many RAMMY finalists

The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington gives away the Rammy awards each year to the area's best restaurants.  This year's Rammy awards ceremony is on Sunday June 26 at the Marriott Wardman Park.

Many Penn Quarter restaurants have made the finals in a number of different categories:

  • Fine Dining Restaurant: Rasika, The Source
  • Upscale Casual Restaurant: Bibiana, Proof
  • New Restaurant: Kushi
  • Chef of the Year: Haidar Karoum (Proof), Vikram Sunderam (Rasika)
  • Mixology/Beverage Program: Proof
  • Hottest Bar Scene: PS7s
  • Power Spot: Carmine's, The Source
  • Restaurant Employee of the Year: Julie Albert (Brasserie Beck), Ryme Lansari (Cafe Atlantico/MiniBar), Adam Sackett (PS7's)
  • Restaurant Manager of the Year: Atul Narain (Rasika)
Hopefully we'll see many Penn Quarter WINNERS in June!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Plans for 433 Massachusettts Avenue

Before - 433 Massachusetts Avenue

We wrote a week ago about this dialipidated building at 433 Massachusetts Avenue that has been sold to a development group.

Now, that group is giving the Washington Business Journal an idea of what the new building will look like.  They are expecting a 3,700 square foot restaurant to take the space, and it will look something like this:

After - 433 Massachusetts Avenue

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cows in the Upper Senate Park

If you found yourself going toward the Capitol this morning, you might have noticed some live cows.   Not the norm in Downtown Washington, D.C.

According to Roll Call, there are activists supporting raw, unpasteurized milk.   They held a rally (invitation here) to support the benefits of raw milk.  Apparently, Representative and Presidential Candidate Ron Paul has introduced a bill to allow for the interstate sale of raw milk.

The activists were milking a cow and sharing its milk in the park today.  You never know what you're going to see in this town.

Cafe Atlantico closing; new restaurant from Jose Andres

Cafe Atlantico is going on hiatus, the Washington Post reports.  The restaurant will be closing on June 12th to make room for a pop-up restaurant, also by Jose Andres, that will coincide with an exhibit at the National Archives.

The National Archives has a new exhibit coming called: What's Cooking, Uncle Sam?  The Government's Efffect on the American Diet."

In conjunction with that, Jose Andres will be opening a new restaurant called America Eats Tavern.

The menu at America Eats will feature iconic U.S. dishes (quite different from Cafe Atlantico).

The new restaurant will open on July 4th.  Downstairs it will feature lobster rolls, hot dogs, and cheesteak; however, upstairs the atmosphere will be more formal, with things such as shrimp and grapefruit cocktail, Brunswick stew, and maple syrup drizzled over pulverized ice.

A portion of the profits from this new restaurant will benefit the Foundation for the National Archives.

Throughout this whole transition (except for three weeks when they  literally transform the restaurant), Minibar will remain open.  After the exhibit, Minibar will likely expand to 18 seats on mutiple floors.  No word on when Cafe Atlantico will return, but Andres says a refreshed Cafe Atlantico will eventually open, though not necessarily in the same space.
You can read more about it from the press release, available here.

A look inside Sax

Sax is now accepting reservations.  Although they aren't yet on OpenTable, their website says to email reservations@saxwdc.com to get one.  Both the bar and restaurant are reservations only. 

The restaurant opened last Friday the 13th. 

A fitting date for a restaurant that is, well, weird.  It features a live dance troupe and has paintings that include Monica Lewinsky riding a centaur, President Obama smoking a joint, and George W. Bush about to partake in lines of cocaine.

Washingtonian Magazine has a slideshow of pictures of the inside, available here.

D.C. Event Junkie has a video which shows you some of the interesting artwork and the live dance troupe putting on their show, available here.

Previous Posts about Sax:


Canadian hip-hop star Drake was in the District over the weekend, and did a private performance for an 18th birthday party happening at the W Hotel on Saturday night, reports Yeas & Nays.  He then went to Ibiza Nigthclub for a Howard University graduation celebration.

Comedian and Comedy Central Host Stephen Colbert made a splash on Friday.  It was rumored he was roaming about Capitol Hill, and then he tweeted "Join me at the FEC today at 4.  Then we'll cross the street to Hard Rock Cafe and get totally PACfaced."  The comedian has been lobbying the FEC to allow him to talk about his Political Action Committee on the air and not count it as a contribution from the network.

Vincent D'Onofrio, the star or Law and Order Criminal Intent was seen at the Crime & Punishment Museum on Saturday afternoon.  He posed next to his own picture at the museum's lie detector exhibit. 

And although not quite in Penn Quarter, we have to mention that Steve Martin was seen at Equinox for an early dinner last Tuesday night.  He was with a female, and they both ate from the vegetarian tasting menu.  He was apparently in town for the White House Evening of Poetry on Wednesday night. 

FBI releases photo of bank robber

The FBI has released a photo of the man who allegedly robbed the TD Bank at 901 7th Street N.W.  The robbery occurred at about 9:30 a.m. on May 2nd.

He was last seen running down Eye Street N.W. wearing a dark blue jacket with a hood, black hat, black jeans, and dark sunglasses.

No word on whether he is related to the bank robbery at 11th and G in March.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts are encouraged to contact the FBI Washington Field Office at 202-278-2000.

Here are the pictures of him:

Artifactory is closing; new restaurant coming

The Washington Post reports that Artifactory on Indiana Avenue is closing.

The space has some history behind it.  The owner, Dominick Cardella, came to Penn Quarter in 1972--if you could call it Penn Quarter.  It was just "blight," as he puts it.  While there was no neighborhood, he did have the Smithsonian museums out both his front and back doors.

He rented an entire building for $400.  He drove to New York and bought $4,500 worth of Third World artifacts.  Then he filled up a store, named it Artifactory, and opened his doors.

Of course, the neighborhood grew up around him.  His store is more of a destination now, though the inside looks about the same as it did in 1972.

While Dominick is closing Artifactory, he is holding onto the building.  He seems proud that he has kept it from being torn down.

The first floor will be rented to a Middle Eastern restaurant after Artifactory is cleared out this fall.

Profile of building at 9th and G Place

You may have noticed the intricate detail on the building that houses Ruth's Chris Steak House on 9th Street between G and H Streets bordering a small alleyway known as G Place Northwest.

Streets of Washington profiles this historic building, which has an interesting history owed to Victor Evans, a successful patent attorney.   In 1907 Evans bought a mansion at the corner of 9th and Grant Place N.W., which is now G Place N.W., the small alley between the library and Ruth's Chris.  He built the building in 1909, though extensive additions have been added since then.

See the full history of this building here.

Friday, May 13, 2011

District of Pi is hiring

Although it doesn't look like it on the inside, hiring staff is usually a sure sign that a restaurant is close to opening.   This sign announcing that District of Pi is hiring is in their window.

They are currently operating a food truck, and some of the jobs (e.g. Mobile Food Truck Cook) are clearly for that; however, many must be for the restaurant (e.g. "Restaurant Managers, Kitchen Manager, Assistant Kitchen Manager, Servers, Bartenders, etc.).

They are having a job fair this weekend, we hope this means they are opening soon!

Central liquor sign changed

Many thanks to our friends at The Location who notified us about changes to the Central Liquor sign. 

We wrote previously about what would happen to this historical sign now that Central Liquors is no longer there, and Joe's Souvenir has taken over the space.

The Location reports that the "liquor" part of the sign is now missing.  Apparently this part was removed without permission from the Historic Preservation Review Board.

Penn Quarter Insider took a closer look, and the word "liquor" is missing.  However it looks like the panels that say "liquor" could just be dropped down on their hinges (as if to replace something inside).  So there may have been no actual alteration of the sign - though it is hard to tell.  We will try to get a closer look (and a photo).

Here is a photo from The Location.  You can see the brick coming through a hole, as if there is a panel missing:

Technical Difficulties

It appears our blogger service was down for about a day - taking with it some of our more recent articles and your comments.  We apologize.

We are working to get new content up as quickly as possible.  We aren't sure we'll be able to restore old comments, but we will work with Google to do what we can.

UPDATE: The posts/comments that were lost should be restored "in the coming hours."  Sorry for the inconvenience.  And no, we were not censoring comments!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Mansion condo at the Ventana

We occasionally take a look at Penn Quarter real estate to see what's around us and how the market is doing.  Nothing catches our attention as much as this penthouse condo that has been on the market for awhile now.

Originally listed at $1,495,000 last December, the price has now been reduced to $1,195,000.   The penthouse is 2,373 square feet, two bedrooms, and two and a half baths.  It was sold to the current owner in May 2010 for $1,200,000 (after originally being listed in September 2009 for $799,000).  It also has a private roof deck.

More pictures after the jump . . .

Groupon deal for Red Velvet

For all of you Red Velvet regulars out there, the Groupon for today is for 50% off at the cupcakery. 

For $20 you can get a dozen assorted cupcakes.  Groupon says this is a $40 value.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Living Social leases an entire Penn Quarter building

918 F Street
Living Social, the online bargain site, has leased even more space in Penn Quarter, the Washington Post reports

The company already calls Penn Quarter home, their headquarters are at 829 7th Street N.W., near the Verizon Center.  They also have space in 718 7th Street N.W. and 702 H Street N.W.

They now have leased 918 F Street N.W., an historical building next to the Ventana.  They leased the entire building.

Living Social told the Post that being in a unique building in a "hip neighborhood" is a way to attract employees.  It seems to be working, we see their employees often at Hill Country.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Free cone day at Haagen Dasz

Head to Haagen Dasz today before 8:00 p.m. for free cone day

The Penn Quarter Haagen Dasz is in the alley between Clyde's and Chipotle at Gallery Place.  There is also one in Union Station.  Both locations are participating in Free Cone Day.

You can choose any flavor you want for your free cone.  For more information, you can check out the facebook page dedicated to the event here.

901 Restaurant opening in May (?)

We posted last week that 901 Restaurant might be opening soon, as they had placed ads on Craigslist looking for staff. 

While their website still says opening in April 2011, we noticed that the sign out front now says they are opening in May.

That means the restaurant must be opening in the next few weeks.  Great news, though the construction doesn't even look complete yet.  We hope it is true.

Penn Quarter beer debuts today

Penn Quarter has its own beer.   Now we have really made it.

Being released today by DC Brau, Penn Quarter Porter, as it's called, is between a porter and a stout.  It is a limited release and is only available in draft form.

It is a bit of a secret as to where the kegs of Penn Quarter Porter are being delivered.  "John Wilkes Booth was part of a secret society - and it's a bit of a secret where all of our kegs went!" says DC Brau.

A list of the possible establishments is here.  However, DC Beer has reported rumors that Meridian Pint, Churchkey, and Smith Commons will be the first places to have Penn Quarter Porter in stock.

UPDATE: The Washington Post reports RFD will have at least one keg of Penn Quarter Porter.  They also suggest checking other bars "near the Verizon Center."

New restaurant coming to 10th and G Streets N.W.

What was once this hole is now the semblance of a building

Thanks to Prince of Petworth's efforts combing through the liquor license applications, we now have intelligence that a new restaurant is coming to 10th and G Streets in the new building that is being built there.

The restaurant is to be called Comma Pizzeria and will have a sidewalk cafe.   It is expected to seat approximately 180 people and serve pizza, sandwiches, and salads. 

On the weekends, they have asked for permission to have live entertainment and DJs.

This is very close to Matchbox and even closer to Ella'sZPizza isn't far away and District of Pi is coming soon.   Too much pizza for Penn Quarter to handle?

Dilapidated building sold and is to become restaurant or retail

Going down Massachusetts Avenue you may have noticed this odd building.  Literally tucked between two large buildings, the address is 433 Massachusetts Avenue.

The properly was foreclosed on in 2009, and a bid was put in for $715,000.   The owner, however, fought the foreclosure (he had apparently been offered very large seven-figure sums during the real estate boom).  He then offered to sell his house--for one and a half million dollars.   No one bit.

Now, the Washington Business Journal reports that the property has sold.  A partnership between D.C.-based Zusin Development and Manhasset, N.Y.-based Sivan Properties bought the property for $800,000 and plans to turn it into a restaurant or retail property, but they have not signed a deal with a tenant yet. 

The plan is apparently to mix modern glass with the current facade--though we are not sure why (or how) you would want to keep the current facade.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Just another "no grocery store" post

It's almost become a cliche how often Penn Quarter residents talk about the lack of a grocery store.  We have a lot in our neighborhood that we are very thankful for, and the Safeway in Mount Vernon Triangle is not far away. 

Nonetheless, it seems like a small market would be a great investment in our neighborhood.

Penn Quarter Insider was in National Harbor, Maryland over the weekend and noticed that even there--where there are far fewer condos and a much bigger CVS--there is a small market that has the things you might need to rush out for.  And some (high-profit) prepared food items that would be a nice fit for the Penn Quarter lifestyle.