Friday, March 16, 2018

The Funk Parade needs your help: fundraiser to make sure it happens!

The Funk Parade, the annual awesome music festival and parade that happens around U Street, needs your help. It's planned for May 12 but they were having a hard time raising money while still remaining independent, putting this year's fest at risk.

They've set up a fundraising page where if they raise $60,000 more, local music equipment store Chuck Levin's will chip in by matching each donation -- so your money gets doubled! It's tax deductible, too.

The event is really fun: multiple music stages around the area, lots of local vendors and food, booths from nonprofits and local organizations, specials at local bars and restaurants, and an awesome street parade down U Street and surrounding blocks.

Here's more about the event and fundraiser from them, and here's the fundraiser link again.
Funk Parade organizers announced last week that without an infusion of at least $60,000, the event was unlikely to take place this year, the event's fifth. The annual Funk Parade and festival brings over 70,000 people to the U Street and Shaw neighborhoods for a day and night of music from dozens of the city's best musicians and artists. 
Past Funk Parade performers have included legendary groups like Rare Essence, Backyard Band, Junkyard Band, Trouble Funk, Malcolm X Drummers and the Sun Ra Arkestra; rising DC stars like Reesa Renee, Aaron Abernathy, Drew Kid, Cautious Clay, FootsXColes, Aztec Sun and Alex Vaughn; local favorites Kokayi, Funk Ark, Fort Knox Five, Wes Felton, Congo Sanchez, UCB, Asheru, Baby Bry Bry, Brass Connection, Black Masala, and Empresarios; and sounds and artists from around the world, including Janka Nabay (Sierra Leone), People's Champs, Sinkane, Mokoomba (Zimbabwe), Jouwala Collective, Cheick Hamala Diabate (Mali), All the Best Kids, and Elikeh. The parade has featured marching bands from around the city, like Ballou, Eastern, and Duke Ellington High Schools, joined by marching bands from New York to North Carolina, and DC’s own Batala drummers. 
"The Funk Parade represents the heart of DC's music culture and the soul of the city that's been part of our existence for the past 60 years," said Adam Levin, grandson of founders Chuck and Marge Levin. “Chuck’s” has helped produce Funk Parade since its inception, providing support and equipment. "When we saw it was in jeopardy we wanted to jump in and see what else we could do. This is the most impactful thing DC has to celebrate the amazing music and arts that are born out of this city. It has to go on."
Launched last Wednesday, the Funk Parade crowdfunding campaign had raised over $10,000 by Sunday, still short of the amount needed to produce the parade. Chuck Levin's has promised organizers it will match new contributions the campaign receives to ensure the Funk continues. 
"For this event to survive, DC's business community needs to step up and save it," said Funk Parade co-founder Justin Rood. "Chuck Levin's pledge shows it can be done. If Funk Parade survives, it will be because of their generosity. We're incredibly thankful for their support, and urgently hope others will follow their lead."

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Help some local students: bingo at Boundary Stone to benefit the Seaton Elementary PTO

While out of out neighborhood, a lot of kids in our area go to Seaton Elementary School at 10th and Rhode Island. They're holding a bingo fundraiser for their Parent-Teacher Organization on March 22 at Boundary Stone. Sounds like fun, and a nice way to help local kids.

Here are the details:
Come have fun and help raise money for Seaton’s Parent Teacher Organization. The PTO will host Bingo Night on Thursday, March 22, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Join us at Boundary Stone on 116 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Kids welcome.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Ellē, new veggie focused Mt. Pleasant spot from Room 11 & Bad Saint, is awesome

Mt. Pleasant has a new vegetable-focused restaurant, Ellē, from the folks behind Bad Saint, Paisley Fig and Room 11. Located in the old Heller's bakery location, Ellē (pronounced Ellie) is a coffee shop and bakery during the day and restaurant and cocktail bar at night. I checked out it for dinner last week and really enjoyed it.

The menu changes and there's a lot of vegetables, but meat lovers can good find things too. We got roasted mushroom gnocchi, butternut squash tartine, and a bread starter that was excellent. Service was great, and they also have really tasty cocktails and a good beer selection. Other dinner items include hot duck with biscuit, a charcuterie board, grilled kimchi toast and grilled mojo pork.

It's not a huge place, so you may want to be ready to wait on Friday or Saturday, or try calling ahead. I'm not sure if they take reservations. We waited for a bit but just had a cocktail in the front area.

I'm looking forward to trying it out during the day too. The bread can go fast though, follow their Twitter in case they're out.

The name is an homage to Heller's, the long time MtP bakery, and also Paisley Fig bakery Lizzy Evelyn's grandmother. The Washingtonian has more about the spot.

Ellē is at 3221 Mt. Pleasant Street NW. They're open Wednesday-Monday 8am to 4pm & 5:30pm to 11:30pm (dinner) and Tuesday from 8am to 4pm.

Monday, March 12, 2018

New rustic neighborhood bar and restaurant, Grady's, open at 14th and Florida

Another new bar and food option! The City Paper has a big piece about Grady's, a new spot at 2210 14th Street NW, which was formerly Dynasty Ethiopian. The CP describes it as "Taxidermy, chicken wings fried in waffle batter, and stiff drinks on 14th Street NW," which sounds pretty alright to me. The owners say they hope it's a go-to neighborhood bar and restaurant and also a place to celebrate.

The spot has a lot of funky decorations like old taxidermied moose and buffalo heads and other Wild West paraphernalia from the collection of a former mayor of Harrisburg, PA.

It specializes in traditional American food, like chicken wings (the aforementioned waffle batter ones), lamb burger, mussels and more. There's also beer, wine and cocktails, and the most expensive beer is $6.50, which I appreciate.

The drinks menu is run by Matthew Wilcox who previously worked at Mintwood Place, Tallula, and Le Diplomate, and the chef is Michael Hartzer, who worked at the fancy French spot Citronelle under Chef Michel Richard. And so far Yelpers love it.

The spot has three owners, John Jarecki, Greg Grammen and Mark Harris. Jarecki also owns Red's Table in Reston, and Grammen owns the nearby Palace Five and Federal clothing shops, just up 14th.  Palace Five, if you recall, is named for the former pro basketball team based in Columbia Heights, the Palace Five Laundrymen! No, really. Tat was their name.

They open at 4 pm and also plan to do brunch in the spring. 

Has anyone been so far? What did you think?

(Also, if you haven't been to Judy, the Salvadorian place next door, it's pretty great.)

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Hilltop restaurant on Sherman reopening as Napoli Pasta Bar with Italian chef, some gluten and dairy free items

This is interesting: the Hilltop, the restaurant and bar on Sherman Avenue, is currently closed and will be changing to Napoli Pasta Bar, to be run by Antonio Ferraro, who has run other Italian spots in the area. Hilltop owner Sam Jahabeen gave me a bit more details:
My friend Antonio Ferraro is taking over operations under the caveat that the concept is his and his to change.

He himself is from Italy and his chef is flying in from there. Antonio helped run Lupo Verde on 14th street for a number of years. Prior to that it was Café Milano.

Napoli is supposed to be a neighborhood [place] and laid back. Everything is made in-house. Menu is to include the classic dishes plus some variations to include some gluten-free, veggie, and dairy free options for pasta lovers with dietary restrictions.

It's going to be a fun upbeat place.
Sounds interesting -- I liked the Hilltop but also am looking forward to this spot.

The Hilltop opened in November 2016 at Sherman and Georgia, and also hosted some pop-ups like the delicious Small Chop coffee and kolache spot. It has a really nice layout and interior and tasty food.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

First Friday is this Friday: lots of deals plus outdoor, dogs and kid-friendly activities

This Friday, March 2 is the monthly First Friday on Georgia Avenue, where lots of local businesses offer deals and specials. It's a nice way to meet your neighbors and check out and support small local businesses in our area. And this month, there are some special events for First Friday: about green spaces, dogs and kid-friendly activities.

Read on for the participating businesses and more info from the organizers:

Participating businesses and deals:
·             Bravo Bar: BoGo
·             Colony Club: (Free) Screening of City of Trees Film by Meridian Hill Pictures 
·             Heat Da Spot Coffee Lounge: TBD
·             District Dogs: TBD
·             Union Drinkery: TBD
·             Ana's restaurante: TBD
·             Walls of Books - Washington, DCof Books - Washington, DC: Local author Davon Clark will do a reading and activities around his book The Adventures of Prada Enchilada
·             (Story District)
·             The Midlands: BoGo coupon for Monday
·             Taste of Jamaica: TBD
·             Esencias Panameñas Restaurant & Catering: Salsa dancing class f 6-7 f $10, salsa dancing 7-11. Beer $3 and Sangria and Wine $4 and Bar Foods $5
·             Yoga Heights: 15% off retail; Bring a (new) friend to class for free
·             Top Spanish Cafe: TBD
·             The Looking Glass Lounge: $2 off all drinks
·             DC Reynolds: BoGo
·             Reliable Tavern: $6 First Friday Punch
·             Ten Tigers Parlour: TBD

We wanted to make sure the next First Friday is on your list, this coming Friday from 6pm - 9pm on Georgia Ave.  As always, we celebrate the small businesses in our neighborhood and enjoy all they have to offer from food and drink specials to book themed, yoga, dog etc. fun and live music and art. For the list of participating businesses check here - - and look for the poster in store windows and on the day itself look for First Friday chalk marks in front of businesses.
We wanted to highlight a few “special events” for Friday and a kid friendly activity all around our “theme” for Green Spaces including green spaces for dogs. 

Green Spaces
Green spaces are an important part of our lives and DC neighborhoods and they contribute to our health and well being. DC documentary film makers Meridian Hill Pictures ( showcase a story about green spaces,  community and the efforts of DC's "Washington Parks and People" (washingtonparks.netin their documentary "City of Trees" ( Thank you to Meridian Hill Pictures to making this available for a free community screening during First Friday. Come to Colony Club ( at 3118 Georgia Ave NW, the film will start at around 7:30pm. We are excited that Washington Parks and People will join us for the event. 

An example of the wide range of use of our green spaces will be a an installation by Noa Heyne ( at Bruce Monroe Park as part of CulturalDC's "SPACE4: Mobile Art Gallery".  Take a sneak peak from 5-7pm on Friday before its official opening on Saturday. Thanks to District Bridges for making that connection. 

Also, you can continue with all things green spaces and what makes our community beautiful with our monthly clean-up on Saturday morning from 10 to 12:30pm, all equipment provided by us and the city. Details on where we are meeting and where we will grab a complimentary beverage after:

One of the green spaces in our community is the dog park at 11th Street and Par Road -"11th & Bark" ( - which as been enjoyed by dogs since 2009 and there is a volunteer only non-profit ready to manage and fundraise for the renovation of the park. Currently WMATA owns the land and is looking to sell it to a developer and the dog park community is advocating for the city to purchase it. We do not want to lose this green space and the dogs do not want to lose this as a play and socializing space. On First Friday you will see some of our neighbors and dog lovers collecting signatures for keeping the dog park. If you do not see them please sign the petition here:

Also keep your eyes open on "We the Dogs"  (@wethedogsdc), the DC nonprofit supporting DC area animal rescue organizations, on Instagram as one of us will have the handle on March 2nd and will high-light our great neighborhood, our dog friendly businesses and, of course, the dog park. And some of those rescued dogs will help with the monthly clean-up on Saturday so you can discuss their experience with them there! :-) 

Kid Friendly Activity
Our friends at Walls of Books are going with the dog and outdoor theme and are hosting the author of “The Adventures of Prada Enchilada” ( — www.facebook/theadventuresofpradaenchilada) with interactive storytelling that the kids will enjoy. (And Walls of Books has some “treats” for the parents for the parents as well in addition to the opportunity to stock up on some winter/spring reads)

Friday, February 23, 2018

Good local news: NPR station WAMU buying and restarting

Good news for local news: the local NPR station WAMU is buying and relaunching, the sadly defunct local news site. The parent company of DCist, Gothamist, was bought last year and and suddenly shut down shortly after the staff voted to unionize. WAMU plans to relaunch it in spring.

DCist, which was around since 2004, was a great source of local news, arts, entertainment, food and a lot more.

The sale is part of a bigger effort by local public radio stations to buy the local outposts of Gothamist: WNYC in New York City and KPCC in Los Angeles bought Gothamist and LAist, respectively. Former DCist editor Martin Austermuhle works at WAMU.

WAMU had a few good quotes about the site:
"WAMU connects Washingtonians with each other and the world, and DCist will enhance our coverage of the region and expand our digital reach," said JJ Yore, general manager, WAMU. "At a time when local journalism is declining everywhere, we are excited to revive this important news source for our region."

"The audience who turned to DCist did so to feel more connected to their neighbors and community," said Andi McDaniel, senior director of content and news, WAMU. "The WAMU audience wants to do the same, and the addition of the DCist platform helps us bring the quality journalism we’ve been producing for decades to the neighborhood level."
(Full disclosure: I wrote for DCist too, doing music reviews, maps, Overheard in DC and other random things.)