Category Archives: Food and Booze

Brookland’s Finest – Dissecting The Protests, Support And Liquor License Hearings

View from the inside of the proposed Brookland's Finest location.
View from the inside of the proposed Brookland’s Finest location.

It seems like you can’t get too far into a conversation around the neighborhood without the topic of Brookland’s Finest, a new restaurant hoping to open at 12th and Jackson Streets NE, coming up. Now that the deadline to submit a protest of the restaurant’s liquor license application has come and gone, we decided to lay out where the restaurant stands in the process.

Many were surprised to hear at the most recent ANC 5B meeting that in addition to the ANC protest, and protests that were filed in May, there were a number of new protests submitted to DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) in June.  There was also a Settlement Agreement submitted to ABRA that was negotiated by Brookland resident Jose “Joe” Barrios and the restaurant’s management, that we covered here. For those interested, the protests and the settlement agreement are public documents, and are easily obtained by contacting ABRA’s Sarah Fashbaugh at Sarah(dot)Fashbaugh(at)dc(dot)gov. So, first off, who can protest a liquor license? From ABRA:
  • Abutting property owner
  • Group of five or more property owners sharing common ground or a group of three or more in a moratorium zone
  • Incorporated citizens association
  • Affected Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC)
  • DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD)

We took a look at the protests and the settlement agreement. First, here is our analysis of the protests. At first glance, you can’t help but notice that all the protests bear almost identical language throughout, suggesting a single source responsible for initiating and/or collecting the various petitions. Here is a breakdown:

 1) In May, a combined 31 signatures from three different documents were collected and submitted that all appear to be from the local Brookland community. The farthest appears to be at 13th and Monroe. On May 19th (based on fax time stamp) 20 signatures were sent to ABRA, on May 20th there were 11 more.
2) On June 23rd, 22 additional signatures were submitted that are also  from Brookland neighbors. One was a signature in the name of a church, so as far as we know, that one signature would be invalid.
3) On June 24th, the day of the ABRA protest deadline, two protest petitions were filed from two local churches with a combined total of 63 signatures. Among these, only one signature is from Brookland; the remainder are from all other parts of DC and suburban Maryland. Several signatures used the church address, making it impossible to determine where they’re from unless the protestants do in deed live at the church itself. There were approximately 27 signatures from Maryland on these two church petitions, from as far away as Largo and Clinton. As far as we know, signatures from non DC residents do not carry any standing with ABRA.
Putting all this in consideration there are about 53 combined valid protest signatures.
On to the settlement agreement.
On June 24th Joe Barrios submitted a settlement agreement to ABRA. The framework for the settlement agreement came about as the result of a meeting that was advertised with flyers to every residence within a one block radius of the proposed restaurant. The residents (full disclosure – I was one of them) in attendance were generally supportive of the establishment but had concerns with regards to operation of the summer garden/patio, noise, garbage, and the like. The result was a series of proposals that ultimately served as the basis for the Agreement and led to the restaurant amending their application to limit the summer garden (outdoor) seating area hours to 10 pm weekdays and 11 pm weekends at the request of the residents. Looking at the signatures in support of the settlement agreement, there were 149, all which appear valid and within roughly a three block radius from the proposed restaurant (Monroe to Girard Street and the Railroad tracks to 13th Street, NE).  We therefore believe this puts Brookland’s Finest in a strong position going into any subsequent negotiations or the final hearing. Notably, the Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association (BNCA) has also passed a motion supporting Brookland’s Finest in light of the Settlement.
So what is next? There will be a series of ABRA hearings as follows:
On July 8th there will be “Roll Call” Hearing at 10:00 am. The people (or a designated representative) who are protesting must show up to the hearing or their protests will be dismissed. Assuming the protestants show up,  a settlement conference/mediation is scheduled in which the protestants and the restaurant management will attempt to reach a compromise with the help of an ABRA mediator. If a compromise cannot be met at mediation, a Protest Hearing will take place where both sides will present their evidence in support of their positions.
The Protest Hearing date has already been scheduled for August 14, at 4:0o pm.
From what we understand, the only people allowed to testify at the Protest Hearing are a limited number of people who are selected ahead of time by either the protestants and the restaurant. However, we also understand that a strong showing of either support or protest by those in attendance can hold some sway with ABRA, and we have also been told that there will be a way for those in attendance to indicate their support or opposition at the Hearing. All ABRA hearings are open to the public and will take place at 2000 14th Street, NW on the 4th floor. We will let you know of any new developments as we hear of them.

Upcoming Events At Union Market Include Drive In Movie Night And DC Scoops Contest

Produce Stand at Union Market
Produce Stand at Union Market

Every now and then we check back in with Union Market to see how it is progressing. One of the nicer improvements over time is the increase in prepared food vendors, making it a great place to eat and shop. The one downside is that I find it quite pricey. But, I’ll qualify that by saying that I think part of this is due to the very high quality and craftsman/artisanal approach of the vendors.For example, the meats are so fresh and come from “happy” free range animals, not mass production facilities.  Because of this, the market has fallen into 3 categories of use for us 1) a source for amazing dinner party menu ideas and ingredients 2) a few “splurge” items like a nice hunk of fine cheese and 3) a great place to wow your out of town guests, especially those coming from far away places, like NW Washington DC. If you are looking for a reason to check it out, or want something fun and local to do, check out these upcoming events. The one we are most excited about is the drive in movie nights – how awesome does that sound?

Here is a rundown of upcoming events from the Union Market website’s events page:


Every Friday Beginning July 12 | 9:00PM

Washington, DC has never been home to a drive-in movie experience — until now. This summer, “DC Drive-In” will screen on Fridays at Union Market. Visit the DC Drive-In page for more information and reservations.

First Saturday of Every Month | Gospel Choir Brunch | 12:30PM

Experience our Gospel Choir Brunch on the first Saturday of every month with a dynamic performance featuring the Israel Baptist Church. Brunch specials are available from vendors.

Every Wednesday | Boogie Babes | 10:30AM

A live music performance for kids and their grownups! The Boogie Babes show begins at 10:30am. Admission is $5/child and siblings 6 months and under are free. Find out more about Boogie Babes online!

Thursday, June 27 | Righteous Cheese – Cheese Classes – Backyard Beer & Cheese | 7:00PM

It’s time for backyard BBQs and front porch lounging, which of course call for serious eating. Go beyond your average can of beer with refreshing craft brews and the best summertime cheeses to match. We’re tasting cheeses that are at their peak in the summer months – from light & zesty to firm & earthy – that can also get outdoors and handle the heat. Spend an evening with Righteous Cheese in an intimate class discovering and savoring seasonal, artisanal cheeses. We’ll explore the world of cheese pairing by tasting 4 cheeses and 4 beers that are perfect for summertime. Fromager Carolyn Stromberg will delve into the story behind each cheese, as well as give advice about selecting, serving, pairing, and more. Sign up now.

June 25 & July 9 | Peregrine Espresso – Espresso Fundamentals Class | 6:00PM

Join Peregrine Espresso for a two hour class at their coffee bar to learn the basics of espresso and milk technique. Learn from our experienced instructors–many of them award-winning baristas–on our professional equipment. By the end of the class, you will be equipped with the skills necessary to produce standard espresso beverages and will also receive a 12oz bag of coffee ($14 value) to practice with at home. Class is limited to six students. Sign up soon.

June 26 | Bazaar Spices – Indian Summer Cooking | 12:00PM

Ever wanted to learn how to cook Indian food? Join us in welcoming local chef and spice connoisseur, Deepa Patke of Aromatic Spice Blends, LLC., for our Summer Indian Cooking Class on Wednesday, June 26 at 12pm at Bazaar Spices in Union Market DC! What’s on the Menu: Indian style Moong Sprouts, Cauliflower with Garam Masala, Cumin Rice with Pilaf Spice. Hope you can join us! Register today!  

July 21 | THE DC SCOOP | 1:00-4:00PM

The DC Scoop is back! Held on National Ice Cream Day in its third year, you can taste (and judge!) the District’s best ice cream, gelato, custard, frozen yogurt and other summer treats! Foodies, have no fear, you’ll be in good company! Stirrers and shakers of the DC Food Scene will serve on a panel of judges to determine the 2013. DC Scoop Winner! A kid-friendly event with activities for all ages.

Union Market is located at 1309 5th Street NE. Check out their website here.

Brookland’s Finest And Neighbors Reach Settlement Agreement On Liquor License Application

As we posted earlier, there has been drama surrounding the liquor license application of Brookland’s Finest, a new restaurant aiming to open in Brookland at the corner of Jackson and 12th Streets, NE. Many neighbors were taken aback when ANC 5B voted to protest the application despite having no public discussion about it, and after many neighbors wrote their ANC Commissioners expressing their support. This caused some neighbors in the immediate vicinity of the restaurant, of which I am one, to wonder how we will have our concerns about the restaurant addressed. Out of this leadership vacuum, a neighbor, Jose “Joe” Barrios stepped up to bridge the communications gap between the immediate neighbors and the restaurant management by negotiating a Settlement Agreement with Brookland’s Finest.

One day soon this will be our new neighborhood watering hole.
One day soon this will be our new neighborhood watering hole.

The Agreement came about as a result of Joe meeting with concerned residents and representing their “wish list” of ideas in a series of negotiations with Brookland’s Finest. Residents, including myself, were present and provided feedback during all of these discussions. Joe also reached out to legal advisors who are experts in DC’s alcohol regulations. A major negotiating point was the operating hours of the summer garden/patio, which residents wanted to close at 10 pm weekdays and 11 pm on weekends. The Brookland’s Finest team agreed to the request and had these hours added to its ABRA application by amendment instead of being in the Agreement.

Now that the Agreement has been hashed out, Joe will be collecting the signatures of sponsors in a 3-block radius of the Restaurant in support of the Agreement. Joe stated:

“I do want to make clear that anyone who signs as a sponsor is agreeing to appoint me as their representative for purposes of this agreement, and will be bound by its contents. I believe that a strong showing of support for the Agreement will serve as a counterweight to an ANC protest that was devoid of meaningful community input. I also wanted to take a moment to commend the Brookland’s Finest team for their amazing cooperation in getting this agreement done. They listened carefully to the residents’ concerns and proposed constructive solutions.”

Do you live in close proximity to the restaurant (from Monroe to Girard and from the Railroad Tracks to 13th Street NE) and would you like to sponsor the Agreement?  If so Joe would be happy provide you with the final copy of the Settlement Agreement and have you sign. The deadline for signatures is this Sunday, June 23rd.  Joe Barrios can be reached at jbarrios9396(at)gmail(dot)com. The Settlement Agreement is as follows:

THIS AGREEMENT is made and entered into as of this _____ day of _______________, 2013 by and between Brookland’s Finest, LLC (hereinafter the “Applicant”), and the designated representative of a group of residents who live in proximity of the establishment in question (hereinafter “Residents”).

WHEREAS, Applicant having filed an application with the District of Columbia Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (hereinafter “ABC Board”) for issuance of a Retailer’s Class “C” Tavern license for the premises of 3126-3128 12th Street NE, Washington, DC 20017 (hereinafter the “Restaurant.”)

WHEREAS, in recognition of the ABC Board’s policy of encouraging parties to settle their differences by negotiating agreements, the parties hereto being desirous of entering into an agreement whereby, subject to approval of the ABC Board, Applicant will agree to adopt certain measures to address the Residents’ concerns in exchange for issuance of the ABC license without need to file a Protest.

NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the mutual covenants and undertakings memorialized herein, the parties agree as follows:

1. Noise Suppression: There shall be no loud or live music performed, nor acoustic speakers placed, outside the Restaurant or on the Summer Garden. Music from inside the Restaurant shall not be audible at any time on the opposite (northwest) corner of Jackson and 12th Streets NE. Reasonable sound attenuation methods will be utilized to minimize noise from inside the restaurant spilling outside; examples may include but are not limited to building a second set of entry doors or use of a heavy curtain separating the entrance from the seating area of the restaurant. The Restaurant’s operation shall at all times be in compliance with the D.C. Noise Control Act. Applicant will encourage employees and patrons, by posted signs or other printed notation on the front door and inside the bathrooms, and verbally as needed, to be considerate of residents in the neighborhood after departing the building, by keeping conversations and other noises at a level that will not disturb the peace, order, quiet and tranquility of residents in the enjoyment of their homes or generate a noise complaint.

2. Summer Garden: The Restaurant will undertake reasonable efforts to deploy vegetation and planters around the outside Summer Garden area. Service of food and alcoholic beverages on the outdoor Summer Garden shall at all times be for seated patrons only, who will be served by Restaurant staff. There will be no service of food or alcoholic beverages at any time to any standing patron at the bar that adjoins the Summer Garden. Patrons from inside the Restaurant shall not be permitted to bring alcoholic beverages and stand outside on the Summer Garden. Once the Summer Garden is closed each evening at the hour listed on the Applicant’s license application, all patrons shall be vacated and the “garage door” separating the Summer Garden from the interior shall be closed.

3. Dining and Kitchen. Restaurant must be maintained as a tavern offering full waiter service and a kitchen that is open until at least two hours before closing every night. Restaurant will maintain a dinner menu commensurate with the menu presented in the original business plan. The restaurant may offer “light fare” or a “light menu” before and after dinner hours.

4. Special Events: The Restaurant will not advertise alcoholic drink specials that are specifically geared towards college students.

5. Trash Pick-Up and Removal: Applicant will maintain regular trash/garbage removal service, a minimum of 3 times per week (days to be decided by owner and business necessity) only during the hours from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, from the trash and dumpster area and see that those areas are regularly kept clean. An exception will be where the city declares air quality or other environmental or weather concerns, at which point the Restaurant will be exempted from the trash pick-up hours requirement for that day. Applicant shall keep dumpster lids tightly closed and incapable of being entered by rodents, in order to limit odors and help control pest and rodent population. Applicant will conduct regular rodent and pest (insect) abatement as needed. Dumpsters are not to be visible from the street or from the next door neighbor, and Applicant must use fencing or planters with vegetation to hide them. Applicant will provide for proper removal of grease and fatty oils from the Restaurant and will not deposit grease or fatty oils in dumpsters or down drains. Bottles shall be dumped into the recycling bins outside only between the hours of 9:00 am and 10:00 pm, and they will be disposed of in bags to reduce noise.

6. Litter and Debris Removal: The Restaurant will comply with applicable D.C. laws and regulations with respect to removal of litter and debris on its premises. Applicant will encourage employees and patrons, by posted signs or other printed notation on the front door and inside the bathrooms, and verbally as needed, to be considerate of residents in the neighborhood by not littering as they are departing the premises. Applicant will petition the D.C. Department of Public Works (DPW) for a DPW-owned and maintained trash can to be placed on the corner of 12th and Jackson Streets, NE adjacent to the restaurant for the benefit of patrons leaving the restaurant, and will post a copy of that petition to the Brookland listserve ( As a service to the community, Applicant will send an employee, every morning before opening, to make best efforts to clean up litter for 25 feet beyond the restaurant property lines down Jackson and 12th Streets NE and their adjoining sidewalks, as well as the abutting alley. It is understood that only best efforts are required, and restaurant will have no liability beyond what is required by applicable D.C laws and regulations.

7. Parking and Bicycles: Applicant shall support community efforts to obtain residential zoned parking on the 3100 block of 12th Street NE and the 1000 block of Jackson Street, NE, at a minimum by writing letters of support to the appropriate government agencies and posting copies of them to the Brookland listserve. Applicant shall petition the D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT), or otherwise work with government officials, for the installation and maintenance of DDOT-approved bicycle racks at a convenient location on the Restaurant’s premises, and will post a copy of that petition or other evidence of compliance to the Brookland listserve. Applicant will encourage employees and patrons, by posted signs or other printed notation on the front door and inside the bathrooms, and verbally as needed, to be considerate of residents in the neighborhood by complying with nearby residential parking zones and regulations.

8. Smoking: Applicant will instruct patrons who are smoking to do so in a limited designated area on the 12th Street NE side of the premises without service of food or alcoholic beverages.

9. Cooperation between Applicant and Residents: Applicant and Residents’ designated representative agree to meet, as needed, to discuss any problems arising from the operation of the Restaurant, or challenges arising from its compliance with the Agreement. The Applicant and Residents both agree to work in good faith to resolve these challenges and problems.

10. Addition to License: The Residents agree not to protest, and agree to the issuance of Applicant’s license upon execution of this Agreement, provided that this Agreement is incorporated into the ABC Board’s order issuing, amending or renewing the license, which order is thereby conditioned upon compliance with this Agreement.

11. Right to Protest: The parties agree that Applicant will be given notice of any alleged violation of this Agreement, and will be afforded reasonable time to investigate and respond to any such complaint (not greater than ten (10) days).  The parties agree that if reasonable discussions of violations are not resolved then any failure of the Applicant to adhere to the foregoing commitments would constitute a breach of this agreement and grounds for the Residents to petition the ABC Board for issuance of an order to Show Cause, as provided by the D.C. Regulations.

Askale Cafe Soft Opening This Saturday – Here’s A Sneak Peek!

Askale Cafe Sneak Peek 6.9.2013Askale Cafe Sneak Peek 6.9.2013Askale Cafe Sneak Peek 6.9.2013Askale Cafe Sneak Peek 6.9.2013Askale Cafe Sneak Peek 6.9.2013Askale Cafe Sneak Peek 6.9.2013
Askale Cafe Sneak Peek 6.9.2013Askale Cafe Sneak Peek 6.9.2013Askale Cafe Sneak Peek 6.9.2013Askale Cafe Sneak Peek 6.9.2013Askale Cafe Sneak Peek 6.9.2013

Askale Cafe, a set on Flickr.

Many Brooklanders are eagerly awaiting the opening of Askale Cafe, Brookland’s newest restaurant. Lucky for us, we were treated to a sneak peek of what’s to come, and let me tell ya, it was delicious! Owners and husband and wife duo, Asratie Teferra and Askale Shiferaw were so kind to welcome us and share their amazing Ethiopian cuisine. We started with a cup of Harrar coffee, made from beans grown in the Eastern highlands of Ethiopia. It was dark and strong, yet smooth and rich.

One of the things we have so enjoyed about getting to know Askale and Asratie is their enthusiasm for sharing their culture. Before we dove in, they gave us an explanation of not only what we were eating, but how it ties into Ethiopian culture and traditions. For our meal we had smashed yellow split peas – very yummy with just a hint of sweetness, my favorite was the chicken curry with rice, it had the perfect level of spiciness, red lentils seasoned with garlic and ginger, and brown whole lentils, with a touch of fresh herbs that brightened this hearty dish. All this was scooped up with lots of yummy, tender, gluten-free injera. They also offered a crisp salad that had a light lemon vinaigrette, a perfect side dish. One of the driving themes of the restaurant is healthy eating, so they plan on serving a lot of vegetarian dishes and vegetables like kale and cabbage.

Askale and Asratie have been working really long hours to get the place ready. For example, after hearing the community feedback on disposable plates and cutlery, they immediately changed their plan and ordered a dishwasher, plates and silverware.  Other elements are starting to fall into place, new furniture has been ordered and they are working on getting free wi-fi set up for patrons. They are eager to get going, so the soft opening will be this Saturday, June 15th, opening their doors at 9am. The grand opening date and details will be announced soon.

For now, the plan is to offer casual breakfast, lunch and dinner food service. They have bigger plans though, including traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremonies for the community, applying for outdoor seating and renewing the beer and wine liquor license that lapsed under the previous owner. I assured them that the Brookland community will stand behind them as they get situated and improve over time. Askale Cafe is located at 3629 12th St. NE (between Otis and Newton St.). Website coming soon. Until they receive their wine and beer license, their opening hours will be:

Monday: 7am to 7pm
Tuesday: Closed
Wed to Sat: 7am to 7pm
Sun: 10am to 6pm

The Ethiopian Coffee ceremony will be scheduled on Sunday afternoons after the Grand Opening.

Get A Sneak Peek Of Little Ricky’s New Menu Items And Artwork This Friday Night

A Little Ricky's Happy Hour Last Fall
A Little Ricky’s Happy Hour Last Fall

Some of you may have noticed that popular 12th Street NE restaurant Little Ricky’s was closed last weekend. We caught up with owner Chase Moore to find out what’s up. Turns out that they have been planning bit of a re-boot for a while now. They have been open since November, and by now have gotten a better sense of what needs to be tweaked. They have some interesting ideas for providing an even better dining experience, and are seriously considering opening for additional nights. For now, Chase wanted me to share that he will be “hosting a happy hour and art opening on Friday, June 7th at the restaurant. Happy hour will be at the bar from 5-8. We will also have many new menu items.” For those of us who admired the pin-up-girl-meets-communist-state artwork by Cuban artist Ahmed Gomez , get ready for something new. Ricky’s crew is busy hanging all new artwork, and Chase added  “this time it is going to be an exhibition of various Cuban artists”. Little Ricky’s is located at 3522 12th St. NE. They are open Thurs – Sat from 11: 30 – 3:00, 5:00 – 10:00 and Sunday for brunch from 10:00 – 5:00.

New Ethiopian-American Restaurant, Askale Cafe, Coming To Brookland In Early June

Many neighbors have asked me what happened to Cafe Sureia, and what will be replacing it. Cafe Sureia unceremoniously closed last summer and by mid-March, signs announcing “Askale Cafe, Coming Soon” appeared on Sureia’s papered-over windows. We met the new owners of Askale Cafe, husband and wife duo, Asratie Teferra and Askale Shiferaw. They were very warm and  welcoming, and very excited to tell us about the new place.

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The couple have a great story. They raised a  family, and now, all grown up, with their adult kids out in the world, they finally decided to make Askale’s dream – an Ethiopian influenced Cafe –  a reality. They moved from Northern Virginia to nearby Hyattsville in search of the perfect place to set up shop. They found the now defunct Cafe Sureia and decided to go for it. For now, the plan is to offer casual breakfast, lunch and “light dinner” food service infused with the flavors of Ethiopian cuisine. As they get situated, and the business grows, they would like to expand their offerings. Long term plans include applying for outdoor seating, a more robust dinner service and renewing the beer and wine liquor license that has since lapsed as part of the property. Asratie acknowledged that while their primary focus is to have a “family friendly” atmosphere, they know  many patrons may want to have a glass of wine or beer with their dinner, and over time, they would like to make that happen.

Asratie proudly spoke about the origins of coffee, while Askale poured us a strong cup of the caffeinated stuff, carefully asserting that their coffee will be more authentic than what they hand on hand.  He asked us if we knew that coffee had its start in Ethiopia. As a daughter of a Colombian immigrant, this was news to me! I sipped. The coffee in my cup was strong, smooth and rich. He went on to explain that they will have monthly traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremonies for the community to participate in; how traditional Ethiopian coffee service  is one of the most recognizable parts of Ethiopian culture, and how they wanted to share this with their new Brookland neighbors. They explained that according to Ethiopian culture, coffee is offered to visiting friends, during festivities, and a daily staple of life. Asratie also spoke passionately about an organization, Books For Africa, that  he is on the board of. After Googling around we found out that he grew up “in a one-room grass-covered hut in rural Ethiopia”. Wow! We were humbled that he didn’t even mention this to us during our interview. We look forward to all that this local upstart promises, and hope the neighborhood supports this new business. Askale Cafe will be located at 3629 12th St. NE (between Otis and Newton St.) and will be open Tuesday through – Sunday. They hope to to have a “soft opening” by June 1st and have a Grand Opening shortly soon thereafter. Stay tuned for more info.

Brookland Liquor Licenses – Menomale, Little Ricky’s And Brookland’s Finest

Given a lot of the chatter around Brookland these days about new restaurants, we thought readers would appreciate information regarding some of Brookland’s newer restaurants  and their liquor licences.

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We learned from an ANC 5B-04 meeting on Saturday April 27th that Menomale’s liquor licence was up for renewal. ANC 5B-04 Commissioner Caroline Steptoe spoke to immediate neighbors of Menomale and received only one very minor complaint. The deadline to protest their license renewal came and went without any issues on Monday April 29th, because they are viewed as good neighbors. Menomale is a craft pizza restaurant that just celebrated one year of being open and is  located at 2711 12th Street NE.

Little Ricky’s, has been open since November 2012 and its liquor licence is currently up for renewal. We spoke with Chase Moore, co-owner of the Cuban restaurant and he stated “Lola and I have worked hard to not just be in the community but to build community- a lot of that is being a good neighbor. To date there haven’t been any noise concerns expressed and certainly there have been no violations. We think most of the neighbors enjoy knowing there is a place they can go where everyone behaves responsibly and all are welcome.” As regular patrons, we couldn’t agree more! The deadline to send a letter in support of or protest their license renewal is Friday May 24th. Let’s hope all goes well there. Little Ricky’s is located at 3522 12th Street NE .

There has been quite a bit of discussion about the liquor license application of a new restaurant hoping to open in our neighborhood, Brookland’s Finest. The Brookland’s Finest team has applied to DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) for a “Tavern” license. My wife and I actually live pretty close to the proposed Brookland’s Finest location, so we wondered what a Tavern license means for the immediate neighbors. An article in the Ward 5 Heartbeat, which posted a copy of the Brookland’s Finest liquor license application indicated that it will allow the restaurant to “operate from 7am to 2am Sunday through Thursday and 8am to 3am on weekends”  with minimal food requirements.  Having said that, the sample menus as part of their business plan  indicates that they will offer substantial food service. However, this license will allow them to forgo keeping the kitchen open late as it would with a “restaurant” liquor license. Thus, if they do so, later hours will be for drinking only. Tyler Nelson, Editor of the Brookland Avenue Blog shared the following liquor license information about Brookland restaurants with us for comparison:

Menomale – Restaurant license
San Antonio Grill  – Tavern license
Optimism – Tavern license
B’Cafe – Restaurant license
Little Ricky’s – Restaurant license
We thought readers would be interested to know that the immediate neighbors to this location have been drawn into a debate about what this restaurant will mean for us. A Yahoo! Group in support of the restaurant has popped up here, ANC 5B-04 Commissioner Caroline Steptoe went door to door over last weekend asking us our opinion in a “for or against” format, while neighbors also received a letter from Tony Tomelden, a Managing Member of Brookland’s Finest and longtime Brookland resident. Mr. Tomelden’s letter described his commitment to the community and encouraged feedback from neighbors so they can work out any concerns ahead of time. His letter also addressed concerns that he is already aware of. As this process has unfolded, my wife and I have had many conversations with neighbors and the major concerns seem to boil down to noise, trash, and parking. As we talked to neighbors, we were also surprised to hear a lot of misinformation being spread about the restaurant. This prompted us to share the business plan distributed at the an ANC 5B-04 meeting on Saturday April 27th with neighbors and start a petition in favor of the restaurant. While we are generally in favor of the restaurant, we still feel that productive, civil, and reasonable discussions need to take place between immediate residents and the Brookland’s Finest team to make sure everyone is heard and happy. Brookland’s Finest liquor license application was submitted to ABRA over three weeks ago, but the placards have not been posted on the building yet, which means there is still time to have this constructive dialogue with the restaurant’s management team. We will keep you posted as to any new developments as they occur. The proposed location of Brookland’s Finest is 3126-3128 12th Street NE.

Optimism Lounge On Brookland’s 12th Street Now Offers A Great New Sunday Brunch Option

My wife and I have been to Optimism many times over the years and have seen how the owner, Jesse Brown, a longtime Brookland resident, has steadily changed the place for the better since taking it over about three years ago. It’s a great place to enjoy a happy hour drink along with their amazing chicken wings, or catch the game on their TVs. Now, Jesse has added yet another improvement. About six weeks ago Optimism started Sunday brunch, and we figured enough time had passed to give it a review. So we grabbed and friend and headed over.

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We were greeted with Optimism’s usual super friendly service, and decided to test drive the bloody mary. Zippy, tasty, and very good, ordered a second by mid-meal. The menu 0ffers classic brunch items at affordable prices (listed below). So, we decided to dive in and order a bunch of dishes to get a feel of the overall menu. By far the best item was the Blue Fish and Grits, which my friend ordered and I stole bites of. It was simply outstanding. The grits were so delicious and had a real depth of flavor. The fish was grilled and seasoned to perfection. I can’t wait to go back have a whole portion for myself! I ordered the pancakes, a generous stack of large, super- fluffy goodness. The only item that was a slight disappointment was my wife’s salmon cakes. While the flavor was good, we found them a little bit dry. For sides we sampled the home fries, eggs , toast , and bacon. All very good. The home fries were tender with a nice caramelization and seasoned nicely. The bacon was thick cut and good and crispy. The bread was whole wheat and a very good quality. All around it was a great meal and I am excited to have another brunch option in the neighborhood. Here is a rundown of the menu :

Blue Fish and Grits – $9
French Toast – $6
Pancakes – $5
Salmon Cakes – $6
Bacon – $4
Turkey Sausage – $4
Two Eggs – $3
Grits – $3

There are the usual brunch beverages like coffee, tea and orange juice, along with adult beverage like mimosas, bloody maries and bellinis, which range in price from $5 – $7. For thirsty folks, there is a bottomless mimosa for $15. Optimism is located at 3301 12th Street, NE at the intersection with Kearny. Sunday brunch is served from 11:00 a m – 3:00 pm.

Brookland’s Finest – Home Grown Restaurant To Establish A Quality Food, Bar And Coffee Spot

There has been a lot of excitement building in the neighborhood about a new restaurant coming to the intersection of 12th and Jackson Streets, NE. We got a tour of the proposed location and spoke with two of the Brooklanders behind the project – Scott Evans, who owns the building, and will build out the space, and Tony Tomelden, a Managing Member.

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Many neighbors know Tony already as the owner of the popular H Street NE watering hole, The Pug. Tony has teamed up with two other owners of successful DC restaurants – John Solomon of Solly’s U Street Tavern and Frank Hankins of Sova, a coffee house. Together, this trifecta of restaurant expertise wants to bring a “neighborhood friendly, casual dining, and community bar atmosphere in Brookland”. I asked how this restaurant will compare to The Pug and Solly’s, which are known for their “dive bar” atmosphere and cheap beer. Tony, who has lived in Brookland for 10 years, just one block from the future restaurant location, and has young children, emphasized that this will be a family friendly restaurant. In deed, one of the first things we noted was that the restaurant will have a real Kid’s Menu complete with Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches. (See sample menus in the slide show.) He added that their beer concept will be entirely different from the other locations, centered on craft microbrews at higher price points and – my favorite part – will only have local DC beers on tap. He envisions the clientelle as the Brookland resident who will walk to the restaurant to start the day with a great cup of coffee and wind down the work day over a beer with neighbors.

Tony wanted to clarify that “Brookland’s Finest” is the name of the restaurant’s company, and that the name of the actual restaurant may be something entirely different. He noted that friends are helping research the history of the property to hopefully tie in a historical aspect to the name. Tony spoke at length about how important Brookland’s  history and neighborhood character is to him – his father and grandfather both made Brookland their home. Whatever the name, this place will fill many of the voids we have in the Brookland dining scene. For example, Frank Hankins will be pulling from his Sova experiences to establish a strong coffee program, something we are in dire need of. For now, Tony plans to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner all week long. This is a welcome development for those of us who work in Brookland and have extremely limited breakfast and lunch options, especially Monday through Wednesday.

Scott Evans is a friend of ours, and a stand-up guy. He lives a stone’s throw from the restaurant location and told us he “will work his heart out” to make the restaurant something his fellow Brooklanders will be proud of. The restaurant, once complete, will have about 2,500 square feet of indoor space. There will be 45 -50 dining room seats, including booths along one wall. There will be 16 – 18 indoor bar seats. Then – ready for this? There will be a sweet garage door opening to the patio where diners can belly up to about 6 outdoor bar seats and 25 outdoor dining seats. So what kind of decor can we expect? Lots of natural light from the large windows, skylights, and garage door, and lots of exposed brick. We happen to know that Scott is a fan of cool repurposed elements, so don’t be surprised to see some upcycled design features. For a good example of Scott’s handiwork, check out the work he did for The Pig restaurant on 14th Street NW. So far the only work Scott has done on this shell of a building is to make it stable, safe and secure, and as you can see, a lot of work needs to be done. I know it seems like the building has sat for a long time in disrepair, but we give Scott a lot of credit for waiting for the right tenant to do the build out. Without going into details, for months he has taken the longer, harder road by turning away proposals from businesses that would not improve the neighborhood. We are glad he held out for Brookland’s Finest! We will track the progress of the restaurant and bring you updates as they are available.

Many readers have reached out to us asking how they can support the Brookland’s Finest team and make this restaurant a reality. A member of the community created a Yahoo! Group in the support of the restaurant  – you can join here. Really though, to be profitable, a restaurant like this needs a liquor license. The Brookland’s Finest team has applied to DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) for a “Tavern” license. One of the most important things you can do is contact your ANC Commissioner and let them know you support this restaurant and their liquor license application. Most of Brookland is divided into 5 Single Member Districts (SMDs), each represented by a Commissioner. As a whole, it is called ANC 5B. The ANC 5B Commissioners will vote at an upcoming meeting about whether they recommend the restaurant be allowed to have their liquor license. ABRA will take the ANC 5B vote result into consideration, along with other factors. You may also write to ABRA directly expressing your support. The ANC 5B Commissioners are as follows and the mailing address of ANC 5B is: ANC 5B Office, 1322 Irving Street, NE Washington DC 20017.

(5B-01) Shirley Rivens-Smith –
(5B-02) Ursula Higgins –
(5B-03) Tiffany Bridge  –  5b03@anc.dc.goc
(5B-04) Carolyn C. Steptoe –
(5B-05) Jenese L. Jones –

Here is a map of ANC 5B so you can figure out who is your ANC Commissioner. ABRA can be contacted at: 2000 14th Street, NW, Suite 400S  Washington, DC 20009. Email: Phone: (202) 442-4423.

ANC 5B Boundries 2013
ANC 5B Boundries 2013