Since January, 2003
            
 Sliding from Before to After

The news from Tom Sietsema whizzed around the Twitterverse early today: "acclaimed" New York restaurateur Danny Meyer is bringing four of his creations to Nationals Park, including Shake Shack, which has already had DC foodies salivating over a planned Dupont Circle location. Shake Shack will be replacing Five Guys on the Scoreboard Walk, and surrounding it will be El Verano Taqueria (serving Mexican snacks), Box Frites (Belgian-style fries with dips) and Blue Smoke (barbeque). The ink is apparently barely dry on the deal, so construction is only just now getting underway (as you can see in the photo at right and this one, which I took today at the ballpark). Shake Shack and the others are already operating at the Mets' stadium, Citi Field.
This isn't the only news of the day in regards to the ballpark food, as the team also announced new food partnerships: the Boston Beer Company will bring Sam Adams beers to the stadium, along with a new Sam Adams beer garden in May; Kayem Hot Dogs are now the "official frank of the Washington Nationals"; and Breyers is now the official ice cream. There's also changes to the existing concessions, including two portable Hard Times Cafe carts that will sell nachos. And a new "point of sale" operation that is supposed to speed up food sales and other transactions. (We shall see....!)
As for outside the ballpark, I peeked in on the progress at Das Bullpen, and while they were working very hard, it was hard to judge whether they'll be open by tomorrow morning. But the original Bullpen at Half and N will be opening at 10 am for all your late-morning beer-drinking needs. (Justin's Cafe will open at 10:30.) There was also work going on along Half Street, with Monument Realty finally replacing the Half Street advertising signage that for so long has declared "Coming 2009" with a more gentle "Coming Soon."
All this reconnaissance came as part of my short visit to NatsFest, and you can see a quick gallery of my photos from the event, none of which are terribly exciting and are more about little things here and there than the players or any of the activities. (I figured those sorts of photos would be a dime a dozen since every fan was toting a digital camera.) One change at the stadium visible in one of the photos (above the big honking new Jayson Werth banner) is that the red tent on top of the left-field garage that has been obscuring views of the Capitol for the past few years is now gone. Yay!
In other news, DDOT has announced that the Navy Yard Circulator's hours are indeed being extended beginning on April 1. From Friday through Sept. 30 (though could be continued in the FY12 city budget), the buses will run from 6 am to 9 pm weekdays and from 7 am to 9 pm on Saturdays, in addition to the extended hours on Nats game days. (They're supposed to post the 2011 Game Day Schedule, but it's not there quite yet.)
And, if you want more transit info before heading off to the ballpark, here's Metro's press release on its plans for extra trains, crowd monitoring, etc.
If I were in a generous mood, I could also link to today's front-page Washington Times story about how nothing is happening around the ballpark in terms of development, but if they are silly enough to dub the "new" Courtyard by Marriott (finished in 2006) as one of neighborhood's "signs of progress," then I'm not sure you need to read the rest. Besides, you can just read my roundup of what's changed since the end of last season to find out all you need to know.
We'll see what the weather does on Thursday--people seem to be sounding a bit more optimistic, but be aware that if there's rain, they'll most likely play Friday and not Thursday night.
UPDATED headline, tweaking "before June" to "by June."
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monkeyrotica says: (3/31/11 9:19 AM)
So to get to these places, you'll need a ticket right? And they'll be closed off season?


JD says: (3/31/11 9:58 AM)
@M, that's correct, they're ballpark concessions.


JT says: (3/31/11 10:37 AM)
I have been known to buy a cheap ticket just to go eat at Ben's.

I've never had Shake Shack, so I'm not sure yet whether it's worth it.


MoE says: (3/31/11 8:10 PM)
Now I understand why people are complaining about parking during games...i must have circled around the EYA blocks 15+ times...watching parking enforcement ride around on segways.


jwg says: (4/1/11 12:46 PM)
MoE, do you live here? Residents who don't have residential parking permits = very frustrated folks when trying to park within half a mile of home during Nats games... 80 days a year.

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