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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: Justin's Cafe
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The WBJ Top Shelf blog is reporting that Justin Ross, who took a gamble on the neighborhood when he opened Justin's Cafe in 2010, will be opening a beer-and-sausage restaurant called "The Big Stick" this summer at 20 M Street, within spitting distance of the Navy Yard-Ballpark Metro station's Half Street entrance, one block north of Nationals Park.
Quoting: "The Big Stick -- named for baseball bats as well as a reference to Nationals' running president Teddy Roosevelt -- will feature house-made bratwurst and other sausages. The beer list will vary from Justin's domestic, craft-heavy offering to some European selections and mass market American beers, Ross said."
(I had *just* seen a building permit application for a new tenant layout at 20 M about an hour ago, and wondered what it might be. Presto!)
The new restaurant will be 20 M's second retail tenant since it opened in 2007, joining a Wells Fargo branch. And this will be the first food offering (other than the Fairgrounds and food trucks) on Half Street.
Comments (10)
More posts: 20 M, the Big Stick, Restaurants/Nightlife, Justin's Cafe
 

The agenda is now posted for Monday's ANC 6D meeting, and it does have a few Near Southeast-related items on it. So it follows logically that I'm not going to be able to be there.
Items include: A report from the housing authority on a request for a zoning time extension for the planned (and long-delayed) community center at Fifth and K streets, SE; an update on the upcoming second phase of Capitol Quarter (which EYA tells me resulted in 11 reservations in the first 15 days); an update on the stadium Traffic Operations and Parking Plan, presumably coming out of the two recent public meetings; and reports/possible votes on Justin's Cafe's proposed sidewalk cafe and the proposed "Harry's" liquor store at New Jersey and I, both of which you can get more detail on from my report on last week's ABC subcommittee meeting.
The meeting is at 7 pm at St. Augustine's church at Sixth and M streets, SW--they're trying to get moved to their space in the new Waterfront buildings, but it still hasn't happened.
I'm going to try to find out more about the community center request, though I imagine there isn't much more to it other than DCHA says it doesn't still have the money to build it yet and so can't meet the deadline that was set in the zoning PUD (planned unit development) for Capper. The time frame for the community center has already been extended once, and in fact DCHA told the Zoning Commission last year that they fully expected that new deadline of filing building permits by Jan. 1, 2011, would be too short and that they'd be back to request another extension. Which appears to be what's transpiring.
 

The report from Wednesday night's ANC6D ABC Committee meeting:
* Justin's Cafe is seeking to add four tables, with umbrellas and four chairs each, on the sidewalk directly in front of the restaurant. They would be available the same hours as the restaurant itself, until 1 am Monday through Thursday, 2 am Friday and Saturday, and 10 pm Sunday. There were concerns from a commissioner or two about whether people might walk away from the outdoor seating area with alcoholic drinks, about the additional noise brought by 16 or so people outside, and about whether cigarette smoke from the tables would waft up and bother the Velocity units directly above. Justin Ross replied that a sign would be posted about alcohol only being consumed on the premises, and that smokeless ashtrays would be available for the tables (and that since people can't smoke inside the restaurant, there's already a lot of smoking going on outside on the sidewalk). Velocity's management had sent along a letter in full support of the plan.
The committee voted 4-0 in favor of recommending that the ANC support the application, and that vote should come at the ANC's June 14 meeting, if Justin's voluntary and community cooperation agreements are revised in time.
* The owners of Capitol Hill Wine and Spirits on Pennsylvania Avenue SE came to talk with the committee about their plans for a new "upscale" liquor store at 909 New Jersey Ave., SE, which they will be calling Harry's SE & SW. (For about nine years they ran the Harry's liquor store at Waterside Mall in SW, which closed about five years ago.)
They have signed a lease agreement to take the two retail spaces on the north side of the building, at the corner of New Jersey and I, and they will be knocking down the wall between them in order to end up with about 2,200 square feet of space. The hours would be 9 am to 9 pm Monday through Saturday (or possibly 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays), and closed on Sunday. They would sell beer, wine, and liquor, as well as milk, sodas, juice, cheese, and other "quick stop" items, but would not sell sandwiches as had been mentioned on the meeting agenda. They hope to open in September or October.
Much of the discussion centered around whether they will try to get an exemption in order to allow sales of "singles," which is a very hot-button issue. The owners said that they want the exception so that they can sell "high end" Belgian beers, which come in single bottles, and have no intent to sell the cheaper singles that can attract a somewhat less desirable element. However, ANC 6D chairman Ron McBee said that he imagines it would be very difficult to get support from the full ANC for the exception, and that there would also be concerns about any attempts to amend the singles law that might make it look like the law was targeted toward one socioeconomic class and not another.
Also discussed was the possible impact of this new store on the long-held plans for a similar high-end liquor store at Second and L SE on the site of the "Little Red Building." The ABRA rules state that liquor stores can't open within 400 feet of each other, and these two would be more than 500 feet apart as the crow flies. But Mr. Park, the owner of the LRB, is clearly concerned about whether the neighborhood can support two very similar operations. He is moving forward with plans to demolish the LRB and put up a new structure, and is also looking at an October-ish opening date. (He said he'd send me the building plans soon.)
In the end, the committee voted 4-0 in favor of recommending that the ANC support Harry's license application. A voluntary agreement and a community cooperation agreement will now need to be hammered out, and those involved weren't sure if one could be ready by the June 14 ANC meeting, in which case it would probably come up at the July 12 one.
 

Some potential retail news might have just come onto the radar screen: on the agenda for ANC 6D's next ABC Committee meeting is a proposed Class A license at 909 New Jersey Avenue for an entity called "Harry's SW & SE". They are proposing apparently to sell beer, wine, bread, milk, cheese, and sandwiches (and no "singles"), which is in line with a Class A/liquor store license. If anyone who lives at 909 has heard any rumors, or if anyone else has some scoop, drop me a line. I'm trying to find out more, and will update as I can. (Though the last time I started asking questions about a license application when one appeared on the ABC agenda was a few months ago for 55 M, and it disappeared from the lineup almost as soon as I hit "send." So be forewarned.)
Also on the ABC agenda is a change to Justin's Cafe's license, with Justin now seeking to add a sidewalk cafe.
The meeting is on June 2 at 7 pm at King Greenleaf Recreation Center.
UPDATE: There was a Harry's Liquor Store at 401 M St., SW back in the old Waterside Mall--I don't think it's reopened in the new building(?). I imagine this is the same owner.
UPDATE II: It is indeed the same owner as the old Waterside Mall store, and he also owns Capitol Hill Wine and Spirits in the 300 block of Pennsylvania Ave., SE.
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More posts: 909 New Jersey, ANC News, Harry's Reserve, jpi, Justin's Cafe, meetings, Retail
 

The word yesterday from the BID is that Justin's Cafe is opening today, and, if so, that means the neighborhood gets its first new restaurant in a long LONG time and what might be considered its first "real" bar. (For a new restaurant, you have to go back to the opening of Five Guys in 2005, if you're not counting the 2007 opening of Starbucks or the arrival of the restaurant and bar at the Courtyard by Marriott in 2007 or the Bullpen.) If you get there for some food or drinks, post your thoughts in the comments.
I'm thinking of maybe next Thursday, April 22, as an unofficial little JDLand Happy Hour? (In other words, I'll go have a drink or two, and see if anyone else comes along. :-) )
Also opening today is the new and improved Safeway at Fourth and M, SW. If you shop there, pass along what you see.
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More posts: Restaurants/Nightlife, Justin's Cafe, Square 699n, Velocity Condos
 

It's not online that I can see, but here are some items from the most recent "FRONT Page News" e-mail newsletter from the BID:
* "Capitol Riverfront neighborhood day at Nationals Park will be Wednesday, April 21st with ticket discounts available to residents, employees, and friends of the BID." The on-street supervisor of the BID's Clean and Safe Team will be singing the National Anthem. [I think, though, that Southwest is going to be part of this "neighborhood day" as well, even though it's not in the BID. This was mentioned at an ANC 6D meeting a few weeks ago.]
* There will be a "Fitness in the Front" event at Canal Park on May 1, with free classes offered by local instructors and information tables (and freebies!). See the link for the lineup and additional info.
* Residential update: "The residential population in the Front is estimated to have reached 3,030 as of the first quarter of 2010. Rental properties including the Onyx, Axiom, Jefferson and 909 are 95% leased. For sale units including Capitol Quarter, Capitol Hill Tower and Velocity are 71% sold. The residential population is predicted to reach 3,500 by the end of 2010."
* And Justin's opens on April 16, but you knew that already. :-)
 

I've just received the news from Justin Ross that he got his liquor license today, and that Justin's Cafe is on target for an April 16 opening. (Yes, I know I was skeptical of that date a while back, but now that I've heard it from the guy who's name is on the sign....)
If you haven't been following along, Justin's will be a restaurant with full bar serving pizzas, sandwiches, and salads, open seven days a week with regular "bar hours," just a few blocks up First Street from Nationals Park. Here's an electronic version of the menu.
We'll have to do a JDLand get-together there in late April.
 

* WBJ is first out of the gates with what I expect to be an avalanche of whats-new-around-the-ballpark stories, tied to Opening Day and now a March staple for all DC media outlets. Nothing new in it, and a few quibbles (Justin's Cafe isn't open yet, the water taxis also ran late last year, Sayres lease is 20k), but I guess it's a decent quick roundup if you're not keeping track. Which, if you're reading this blog, you are. :)
UPDATE: Ah, now I know where WBJ got the idea--the BID's State of the Capitol Riverfront Spring Update. Basically a straight copy-and-paste. (Not the end of the world, of course, but never a bad idea to be straight with readers about your sourcing.)
* Speaking of Justin's, ABRA said yesterday that there were no protests filed for its liquor license application. A reader reports that Velocity is telling residents that the restaurant will open April 16, but after watching rumored opening date after rumored opening date come and go for other places in the past, I remain skeptical of any rumor other than "it's opening tomorrow." (That isn't to say that the dates that get floated are necessarily propaganda--just that the final road to opening a business has a lot of potential pitfalls, especially in the permit process.) On the other hand, a reader passed along an electronic version of the menu, if you want to whet your appetite while waiting; though note that the web site listed hasn't launched yet.
* From the Post: the nude dancing license that used to belong to the Nexus Gold Club--on the site of what is now 909 New Jersey--is now being rebirthed as the "Stadium Club," a strip club getting ready to open on Queens Chapel Road, NE.
* Don't forget that the second public workshop in the Marines' project to build a new barracks, focusing on potential development sites, is tonight from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at Van Ness Elementary (1150 5th St., SE), with a repeat tomorrow from 8:30 to 10:30 am at the North Hall of Eastern Market. The agendas are here (and if you're trying to figure out how to get into Van Ness, the project web site says: "Enter through the main doors on the eastern side of the building (where the parking lot is) and follow the signs to the auditorium downstairs"). If the discussion going on in this comments thread is any indication, it's going to be an interesting meeting.
 

For those keeping track, the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration has finally posted the hearing date for the liquor license for Justin's Cafe, and it's scheduled for March 22 at 10 am. From the notice: "NATURE OF OPERATION: New cafeteria-style restaurant serving salads, sandwiches, and pizza with 33 seats. Occupancy load of 61. HOURS OF OPERATION AND SALES / SERVICE / CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES: Sunday 11:30 am - 10 pm, Monday through Thursday 11:30 am - 1 am and Friday & Saturday 11:30 am - 2 am."
As I've written, Justin is also asking for a stipulated license, which will allow him to open the restaurant and sell alcohol before the March 22 hearing date. But I haven't heard of an opening date yet, though a reader reports that the amount of construction "stuff" in the space seems to have lessened.
 

Tonight ANC 6D gave its support in two separate votes to restaurateur Justin Ross's liquor license application for his new "Justin's Cafe" sandwich/salad/pizza place in the ground floor of the Velocity condo building at First and L streets, SE. There was little discussion, other than some concerns by commissioner Roger Moffatt about voting to support the full liquor license before the hearing is even "placarded," i.e., posted on the restaurant site, because he felt that this might prevent residents' concerns from being part of the ANC's decision (though, of course, the ABRA liquor license hearing process specifically allows for public comment). Two residents in the audience spoke strongly in favor of the proposed plans, and, in the end, the votes were 6-0-1 for a temporary "stipulated" license and 6-1 for the full license (Moffatt voting present/against on the two motions).
There's still no date set for the license hearing (Justin filed his application on Dec. 30), but he indicated that things should be moving pretty quickly in terms of getting the restaurant opened, and the stipulated license will allow him to serve alcohol until the full license is voted on.
Other Near Southeast-related tidbits:
* The Marines are going to be hosting an open house on January 27 from 5 to 8 pm at Eastern Market's north hall--they are formulating a new master plan for all of their space needs, and are looking to "partner" with residents, developments, government agencies, or any organization that can provide the space they're looking for. The open house seems to be the first step in "reaching out," though it all seemed a bit murky, and perhaps will be better explained when announcements for the open house are released. (Though "lower Eighth Street" was mentioned.)
* The commission also elected its offers for 2010, with Ron McBee being named chair. Vice chair Robert Siegel, secretary David Sobelsohn, and treasurer Jane Jorgensen retained their posts.
* This was the first time in all the ANC 6D meetings I've attended (starting in probably 2004) that I actually stayed until the very end (it lasted a mere three hours). Whether this is something to celebrate is another issue, especially on a night like this one where the heat at St. Augustine's seemed particularly, um, nonexistent. They did announce that soon the ANC and the Southwest Neighborhood Association will be moving to new digs at Waterfront (the new development about to open at the old Waterside Mall site at Fourth and M, SW). They will also have a public meeting space that presumably will have both sufficient HVAC offerings and decent acoustics, so that I will actually be able to *hear* what's going on.
 
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