by Borderstan.com January 2, 2013 at 9:00 am 0

"Groh"

Sam Groh of GrohNola. (Namita Koppa)

From Namita Koppa. Email her at namita[AT]borderstan.com.

Author’s Note: At Borderstan.com, you’ll always find the latest food & drink news from writers who actually reside and eat in our neighborhood. That’s why we’re giving you the opportunity to get to know some of the culinary geniuses behind Borderstan’s food businesses.

Borderstan: What is the name of your business and its mission?

Groh: The name of my business is GrohNola, which is a local DC granola company. It all stems from my last name “Groh” (pronounced ‘grow-nola’). My main reason for starting this business is to provide people with a healthy yet nutritional snack, with only a little bit of sugar. I want people to appreciate quality snacks and put something good in their body.

Granola should be enjoyed by every single person, including children. It has become a huge consumer product within the past couple of years. I would like to make a change with the current granola market and also develop another market who become GrohNola eaters.

Borderstan: Tell us about yourself! How did you conceive of the idea for your business?

Groh: I started in the food business when I was 16 years old. I worked in kitchens during my summer and winter breaks of high school and college. I have always loved food and wanted to be a part of the food industry. I conceived my idea when I got into running and leading a healthier lifestyle about 2.5 years ago.

I joined several run clubs and after the runs, people would go to bakeries for cupcakes and other sweet desserts. I just could not eat those sweet desserts right after my run. I found a random recipe for granola and started making it myself to eat after the runs. The recipe has changed and developed over time, and now has become what I currently serve.

Borderstan: Why granola? Where do you source your ingredients from?

Groh: Granola is something which is filling, yet not heavy. It tastes good in numerous ways (yogurt / frozen yogurt, ice cream, milk, straight out of your hand). I source as many ingredients locally as possible, Right now I source maple syrup and honey locally, and I am working on sourcing more.

Granola is a difficult thing to source locally because it involves nuts and seeds, which mostly come from the Midwest or California. I expect to have more local ingredients within the next month, as I have spoken with some farmers and even a Reverend who is working on teaching children how to grow seeds.

Borderstan: Where’s your favorite place to eat/drink in the neighborhood?

Groh: My favorite places to eat in the neighborhood are Hank’s Oyster Bar and Bar Pilar. I absolutely love seafood and simple food!

Borderstan: What are your impressions of DC’s innovation/start-up scene?

Groh: I love it! Think First Local DC is great, as I participated in their first Start-up market on H Street about three weeks ago. I made a lot of different connections and everyone was so friendly and promoting for each other. Stacey Price did a great job of organizing and managing all the different food vendors.

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by Borderstan.com December 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm 1,011 0

"Groh"

Sam Groh’s local food business, GrohNola. (Namita Koppa)

From Namita Koppa. Email her at namita[AT]borderstan.com.

Author’s Note: At Borderstan.com, you’ll always find the latest food & drink news from writers who actually reside and eat in our neighborhood. That’s why we’re giving you the opportunity to get to know some of the culinary geniuses behind Borderstan’s food businesses.

Borderstan: What is the name of your business and its mission?

Groh: The name of my business is GrohNola, which is a local DC granola company. It all stems from my last name “Groh” (pronounced ‘grow-nola’). My main reason for starting this business is to provide people with a healthy yet nutritional snack, with only a little bit of sugar. I want people to appreciate quality snacks and put something good in their body.

Granola should be enjoyed by every single person, including children. It has become a huge consumer product within the past couple of years. I would like to make a change with the current granola market and also develop another market who become GrohNola eaters.

Borderstan: Tell us about yourself! How did you conceive of the idea for your business?

Groh: I started in the food business when I was 16 years old. I worked in kitchens during my summer and winter breaks of high school and college. I have always loved food and wanted to be a part of the food industry. I conceived my idea when I got into running and leading a healthier lifestyle about 2.5 years ago.

I joined several run clubs and after the runs, people would go to bakeries for cupcakes and other sweet desserts. I just could not eat those sweet desserts right after my run. I found a random recipe for granola and started making it myself to eat after the runs. The recipe has changed and developed over time, and now has become what I currently serve.

"Groh"

Sam Groh of GrohNola. (Namita Koppa)

Borderstan: Why granola? Where do you source your ingredients from?

Groh: Granola is something which is filling, yet not heavy. It tastes good in numerous ways (yogurt / frozen yogurt, ice cream, milk, straight out of your hand). I source as many ingredients locally as possible, Right now I source maple syrup and honey locally, and I am working on sourcing more.

Granola is a difficult thing to source locally because it involves nuts and seeds, which mostly come from the Midwest or California. I expect to have more local ingredients within the next month, as I have spoken with some farmers and even a Reverend who is working on teaching children how to grow seeds.

Borderstan: Where’s your favorite place to eat/drink in the neighborhood?

Groh: My favorite places to eat in the neighborhood are Hank’s Oyster Bar and Bar Pilar. I absolutely love seafood and simple food!

Borderstan: What are your impressions of DC’s innovation/start-up scene?

Groh: I love it! Think First Local DC is great, as I participated in their first Start-up market on H Street about three weeks ago. I made a lot of different connections and everyone was so friendly and promoting for each other. Stacey Price did a great job of organizing and managing all the different food vendors.

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by Borderstan.com December 21, 2012 at 5:00 pm 0

gift

For the unconventional gift. (Luis Gomez Photos)

If you’re looking for something to spice up the holidays and a snowman sweater isn’t going to to get the job done, two local Borderstan businesses might have just what you need.

Adam & Eve (formerly known as Leather Rack) at 1723 Connecticut Avenue NW has a giant selection of gifts that will knock your socks (and pants and shirt) off. We won’t go into details on this family-friendly space, but you can easily stop in the store for more information on the products.

Secret Pleasures is another local business that caters to adult toys (1510 U Street NW), and sells a variety of items perfect for gifting to your special someone.

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by Borderstan.com December 19, 2012 at 2:00 pm 0

"gift"

Into sports? Find the perfect gifts for the holidays, right in the neighborhood. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Kent Barnes. Follow him on Twitter @KentBarnes, email him at kent[AT]borderstan.com.

If you have a sports fan on your holiday shopping list, don’t be stumped by what to get them. The Borderstan area offers plenty of options that are sure to please even the pickiest of athletes.

Top Picks for Gifts in the Neighborhood

Here are my top picks for gifts in the area:

  • For the yogi in your life, head over to LuluLemon (1461 P Street NW) in Logan Circle where you’ll find a variety of yoga apparel and accessories.  Normally I’m a strictly boxers kind of guy, but buy your man a pair of the Game On Boxer Briefs and I promise he won’t be disappointed.
  • Shopping for a runner? Check out Pacers Running Store (1427 P Street) and let the store’s expert staff recommend the perfect pair of shoes.  And don’t leave without picking up a DC themed running shirt to stuff in the stocking.
  • With more DC residents than ever using bicycles to get around town, you might find yourself (or your gift recipient) in the market for some cycling equipment. Local bike shops District Hardware, Rollin Cycles, and The Bike Rack have a variety of bikes, helmets, accessories, and apparel to choose from.
  • If your significant other would rather drink beer and watch sports than play them, gift cards are always a fine choice. Treat them to a few rounds at Touchdown or Nellies on U Street, or to Drafting Table’s new soccer brunch in Logan Circle.
  • Finally, if you’re looking to spread a social message along with holiday cheer, the Human Rights Campaign has a store in Dupont Circle (1633 Connecticut Avenue NW) where you can buy training shirts and shorts, or a bicycle jersey.

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by Borderstan.com December 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm 1,696 1 Comment

"local"

Christmas shopping, done  locally. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com. 

When making your list and checking it twice this season, be sure to keep local businesses in mind. Shopping local stores not only supports fellow neighbors and store owners, it also keeps money in DC’s local economy.

Think Local First, a DC-based nonprofit dedicated to growing a sustainable local economy, is encouraging residents to think outside of the (big) box (stores) when selecting gifts. To help shoppers, the organization took all the guess work out of “where to find what” with their Shop Local Gift Guide.

The free-to-download guide includes everything from home decor, to tools, gym memberships, art and pet gifts, and offers ideas for stocking stuffers, office gift swaps, gifts for kids, gifts for parents and the perfect gifts for “him” and “her.”

Local Borderstan Stores in the Guide

  • Logan Hardware (1416 P Street NW)
  • Foundry (1522 U Street NW)
  • Pleasant Plains Workshop (2608 Georgia Avenue NW)
  • Riptide Partners (1530 14th Street NW, Second Floor)
  • Skynear Designs & Gallery (2122 18th Street NW)
You don’t have to limit yourself to the stores in the guide — they are suggestions to get your gift-giving wheels turning. Here are some other neighborhood stores to consider for unique and personal gifts.

For the Person Who Has Everything

  • PULP (1803 14th Street NW)
  • Tabletop DC (1608 20th Street NW)
  • Miss Pixie’s Furnishings & Whatnot (1626 14th Street NW)

For the Fashion-Forward

  • Proper Topper (1350 Connecticut Avenue NW)
  • Redeem (1734 14th Street NW)
  • Universal Gear (1529 14th Street NW)
  • Caramel (1603 U Street NW)
  • Current Boutique (1809 14th Street NW)
  • Lettie Gooch Boutique (1517 U Street NW)
  • Ginger Root Design (1530 U Street NW)

For the Foodie

  • Seasonal Pantry (1314 9th Street NW)
  • Pleasant Pops (1781 Florida Avenue NW)
  • Cork Market (1805 14th Street NW)
  • Cork and Fork (1522 14th Street NW)

For a New Homeowner, Renter or Lover of Home Decor

  • Room and Board (1840 14th Street NW)
  • Urban Essentials ( 1401 14th Street NW)
  • Vastu (1829 14th Street NW)
  • Muléh (1831 14th Street NW)
  • Good Wood (1428 U Street NW)
  • Darryl Carter (1320 9th Street NW)

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by Borderstan.com November 23, 2012 at 10:00 am 0

"weekend"

Borderstan Weekend. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com. 

Happy Thanksgiving, Borderstan! We hope you all had a relaxing and delicious holiday. If you’re looking for something to do this weekend (you know, for when the pumpkin pie is polished off and the turkey is picked to the bones), then look no further. We have your list of the food, music and cultural events going on in (and around) Borderstan November 23, 24 and 25.

Local Events, Exhibits and Nightlife

  • Black Friday Shopping: Up and after some deals this Friday, Nov. 23? Plenty of stores in Borderstan are having sales and celebrations. Check our listing for where to go.
  • Standard’s Seasonal Hurrah – Beer, Meat and Patio Heaters: Nov. 23 – Dec. 2, Standard will fire up the smoker, pour the beer and fill-up the patio for its last few days of the season. Standard (1801 14th Street NW) will be closed from Dec. 3 through March 1.
  • The Dupont Circle Food Tour: On Saturday, Nov. 24, DC Metro Food Tour’s will guide participants, on foot, through one of DC’s most diverse neighborhoods. Taste the food of the neighborhood and learn how it’s tied to the area’s history. For more information, visit the website or email  info[AT]dcmetrofoodtours.com.
  • Post-Thanksgiving Party at MOVA: Escape from your crazy uncle and drown your awkward family moments on Friday night at MOVA for music and cocktail specials ($4 vodkas and DJ Jason) from 9 pm until midnight.
  • Special Agent Galactica at Black Fox Lounge: On Friday, Nov. 23, join Special Agent Galactica for happy hour at Black Fox Lounge (1723 Connecticut Avenue NW) from 6 until 9 pm. Visit the Facebook page for more information.
  • Open Mic Poetry hosted by E-Baby featuring 2Deep at Busboys and Poets: On Friday, Nov. 23, audience members will be able to enjoy two hours of poetry from 9 until 11 pm. For more information, visit the website.

Live Music

DC9 (1940 9th Street NW)

  • Saturday, Nov. 24: Astra Via, Derek Evry and His Band of Misanthropes, Addieville, 8:30 pm

Velvet Lounge (915 U Street NW)

  • Friday, Nov. 23: Westmain, Fujank, The Ambitions, 9 pm
  • Saturday, Nov. 24: Drugs of Faith, Sexgender, Keep, Heighpriest, Cavern, 9 pm

9:30 Club (815 V Street NW)

  • Friday, Nov. 23: Citizen Cope, Alice Smith, 8 pm
  • Saturday, Nov. 24: Sufjan’s Xmas Sing-a-long, Sheila Saputo, 7 pm
  • Sunday, Nov. 25: Of Monsters and Men, 7 pm

Black Cat (1811 14th Street NW)

  • Saturday, Nov. 24: Supersuckers, Soulful Aggression, 9 pm
Howard Theatre (620 T Street NW)
  • Friday, Nov. 23: Faith Evans, Michael Lynche, 8 pm
  • Saturday, Nov. 24: BB King, Levi Stephens, 8 pm
  • Sunday, Nov. 25: Sunday Gospel Brunch with the Harlem Gospel Choir, 1:30 pm
Tropicalia (2001 14th Street NW)
  • Friday, Nov. 23: Congo y Castro, 7 pm

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by Borderstan.com November 20, 2012 at 2:00 pm 1,069 0

"black friday"

Black Friday sales in the neighborhood. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com. 

The day after Thanksgiving is the retail world’s official start to the Christmas shopping season. Black Friday is known for its crazy crowds, long lines and ridiculously early morning hour specials at big box stores.

If you’re looking to avoid that train wreck, but still want to take part in the shopping and holiday festivities post-turkey day dinner, check-out some of Borderstan’s local stores for sales and gift ideas.

  • Pulp is gearing up for a “funky Black Friday.” Shop the store from 11 am to 7 pm for some unique gifts and dance to some Christmas funk music. Pulp is located at 1803 14th Street NW.
  • The DC Flea Market is going mad with a Black Friday Midnight Madness Sale on Friday, Nov. 23 from 12 am until 4 am at Montserrat House (2016 9th Street NW). Expect items from H. Darling, I Found That Vintage, Speak Vintage, Thembe Fashions and more. DC Flea Market will also provide drinks and music for the seasonal festivities.
  • Ginger Root Design (1530 U Street NW) is promoting locally made items on Black Friday. Buy one local item and get the second 20 percent off. Also, the vintage collection will be 20 percent off. Ginger Root Design will be open from noon until 7 pm on Friday.
  • Redeem (1734 14th Street) is opening an hour early on Black Friday (at 11 am) and will remain open until 8 pm.
  • For the book lover on your gift list, swing by Kramerbooks and peruse the latest in literature. If all of the shopping works up your appetite (or your thirst), pop in to Afterwords Café for a beer or a bite to eat. Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café is located at 1517 Connecticut Avenue NW and is open 24 hours on Friday and Saturday.
  • Table Top (1608 20th Street NW) will be open from noon until 8 pm on Friday. The Dupont Circle store is a great place to pick-up home accessories, books, kitchen gadgets and home décor.
  • Looking for something to keep your head (and hands) warm this winter season? Proper Topper (1350 Connecticut Avenue NW) will be open on Black Friday from 10 am until 8 pm. Remember — hats and accessories make great gifts, too!
  • Universal Gear (1529 14th Street NW) will be open for normal hours on Friday. Stock-up on men’s wear for the upcoming holiday parties.
  • Current Boutique (1809 14th Street NW) is giving customers 20 percent off everything on Black Friday.
  • Lettie Gooch Boutique (1517 U Street NW) will have several sales on Black Friday. From 10 am – 1 pm, shop the boutique’s Early Bird Sale for 25 percent off regularly priced items, 50 percent off jewelry and 30 percent off jeans. Can’t make it Friday? Some sales will also roll-over to the weekend, as well.

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by Borderstan.com October 30, 2012 at 5:00 pm 0

"best"

“Washington Blade’s” annual reader poll includes numerous favorites in the neighborhood. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com. 

The Washington Blade‘s yearly “Best Of Gay DC” list is out, and one thing is for sure — Borderstan-area businesses are a favorite in the LGBT community. Here are some the neighborhood’s winners from the newspaper’s annual reader poll:

  • Best Dance Club: Town Danceboutique, 2009 8th Street NW
  • Best Happy Hour: Nellie’s Sports Bar, 900 U Street NW
  • Best Gay-Friendly Straight Bar: Black Cat, 1811 14th Street NW
  • Best Live Music: 9:30 Club, 815 V Street NW
  • Best Women’s Party: BARE by LURe at Cobalt, 1639 R Street NW
  • Best Neighborhood Bar: Larry’s Lounge, 1836 18th Street NW
  • Best Men’s Party: Mixtape (See our profile on D.J. Shea Van Horn)
  • Best Alternative Party: DC Bear Crue Happy Hour at Town 2009 8th Street NW
  • Best Ethnic: Rice, 1608 14th Street NW
  • Best Brunch: Level One, 1639 R Street NW
  • Best Wine Bar: Cork, 1720 14th Street NW
  • Best Late Night: Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse, 1609 17th Street NW
  • Best New Restaurant: The Pig, 1320 14th Street NW
  • Best Chef: Jamie Leeds, Hank’s Oyster Bar, 1624 Q Street NW
  • Best Date Restaurant: Logan Tavern, 1423 P Street NW
  • Best Local Dish: Half Smokes at Ben’s Chili Bowl, 1213 U Street NW
  • Best House of Worship: Foundry United Methodist Church, 1500 16th Street NW
  • Best Spa/Salon: Bang Salon/Aura Spa, 1517 15th Street NW
  • Best Men’s Clothing Store: Universal Gear, 1529 14th Street NW
  • Best Gym: Vida Fitness, 1517 15th Street NW
  • Best LGBT-owned Business: Hank’s Oyster Bar, 1624 Q Street NW
  • Best Art Gallery: Phillips Collection, 1600 21st Street NW
  • Best Home Furnishings: Miss Pixie’s, 1626 14th Street NW
  • Best Second-Hand Shop: Buffalo Exchange, 1318 14th Street NW
  • Best Nonprofit: Whitman-Walker Health, 1701 14th Street NW
  • Best Hotel: Donovan House, 1155 14th Street NW
  • Best Yoga Studio: Yoga District, 1635 Connecticut Avenue NW (and other locations)

Congratulations to everyone!

Finally, a huge thanks to everyone who voted for Borderstan for Best Local Blog. We were honored to make the ballot along with Dcist, Prince of Petworth, Where The Girls Go and Rage. While we didn’t win the trophy this year as we did in 2011, congratulations to Dcist for winning again.

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by Borderstan.com September 17, 2012 at 11:00 am 1,242 1 Comment

"best"

Borderstan’s Express Night Out Best. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com.

The neighborhood is booming, for sure! This year’s Best of 2012 ballot for the Washington Post’s Express Night Out is loaded with Borderstan businesses and services (even the 15th Street bike lane!). You can vote more than once with voting closing on September 27.

Here’s who’s on the list!

  • Best Neighborhood blog: Borderstan
  • Outdoor Drinking: Standard BBQ
  • Sports Bar: Nellie’s Sports Bar, Touchdown
  • Gay Bar: Nellie’s Sports Bar, Town Danceboutique, JR’s Bar & Grill, Cobalt
  • Happy Hour: Hank’s Oyster Bar, Policy
  • Cocktail Menu: The Gibson, Policy
  • Bike Lanes: 15th Street NW, 14th Street NW, 11th Street NW
  • Date Spot: Posto, Bar Pilar
  • Place to Meet People: Posto, The Studio Theatre, Nellie’s, Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe
  • Art Classes: Art Jamz
  • Haircut: Bang Salon, Salon Cielo
  • Mani-Pedi: Mimosa Salon and Spa, Qwest Nails
  • Readings: Busboys and Poets
  • Gallery: Hillyer Art Space, Gallery Plan B, Hamiltonian Gallery
  • Theatre: The Studio Theatre
  • Thai: Rice, Sala Thai, Beau Thai, Thai X-ing, Thai Tanic
  • Seafood: Hank’s Oyster Bar, Pearl Dive
  • Ethiopian: Etete, Dukem
  • Sushi: Sushi Taro
  • Barbecue: Standard
  • Vegetarian: Busboys and Poets, Java Green/Cafe Green
  • South/Central American: El Tamarindo
  • Brunch: Masa 14, Busboys and Poets
  • Burger: Black & Orange
  • Frozen Treat: Pitango Gelato, Mr. Yogato, Pleasant Pops
  • Late-Night: Ben’s Chili Bowl
  • Sandwich: Taylor Gourmet, SUNdeVICH, Fast Gourmet
  • Indie Coffee Shop: Peregrine Espresso
  • New Restaurant: The Pig
  • Chef: Jose Andres, Dan O’Brien
  • Place to go to impress someone: Komi
  • Place to go with someone else paying: Komi
  • Farmers Market: Dupont Circle Farmers Market, 14 and U Farmers’ Market
  • Consignment Store: Current Boutique
  • Women’s Clothing: Redeem
  • Men’s Clothing: Universal Gear, Redeem, Alton Lane
  • Accessories: Lou Lou Boutique
  • Vintage Store: Miss Pixie’s Furnishings & Whatnot
  • Gift Shop: PULP
  • Home Store: Vastu, Home Rule
  • Local Hardware Store: Logan Hardware
  • Specialty Food/Beverage Store: Seasonal Pantry
  • Pet Store: Doggy Style Bakery, Boutique & Pet Store
  • Kid-friendly Restaurant: Eatonville
  • Gym: VIDA Fitness
  • Yoga Studio: Yoga District, Tranquil Space, Flow Yoga Center
  • Bike Shop: The Bike Rack
  • Specialty Gym: CrossFit Dupont, Fuse Pilates, Jaime Andrews Fitness
  • Pool: VIDA Penthouse Pool Club
  • Park: Meridian Hill Park

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by Borderstan.com August 9, 2012 at 10:00 am 1,670 2 Comments

"Swagger Jacking"

The intersection of 14th and U Streets NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com. 

Swagger Jacking: It’s a phrase that has popped up on several DC blogs this week. So what does it mean, exactly?

Well the phrase, used by Stephen A. Crockett Jr. on The Root DC, alludes to the social, economic and cultural shifts that are taking place in the District. More specifically, Crockett uses “swagger jacking” to describe the sense of “faux black ethos” that is running amuck on the U Street Corridor.

What was once the cultural center of Chocolate City (the name for DC a couple of decades ago when it had a large African American majority) is now home to loft apartments, high rent prices, chic restaurants and restored theaters — that all pay homage to the past in an ironically expensive way. To sum it up, today’s U Street is a trendy misrepresentation of the area’s history.

Crockett writes, “There is something inherently inauthentic about homemade sweet tea out of a mason jar,” referring to a U Street restaurant that emulates “some memory of blackness.”

Change is an inevitable fact of life; a fact to which urban areas are especially prone. Cities will continue to experience on-going social and economic shifts as races and cultures migrate and populate different city neighborhoods.

City Paper writer, Alex Baca, points out that many of the buildings in the U Street area (specifically The Brixton, the target of Crockett’s article) have been vacant and decrepit for years. Now, the U Street Corridor is one of the city’s most vibrant and desirable places to live and visit. Undoubtedly, it is also one of the city’s most lucrative areas, generating both revenue and jobs for the District.

“Crockett’s just saying what we already know: DC isn’t what it used to be,” writes Baca.

So then, what?

As the racial, cultural and economic dynamics of the city change, do we just rebuild and erase all of the District’s history? Is some preservation better than no preservation? Or is what is happening along U Street more exploitation and less preservation as we continue to swagger jacket our way into a bustling neighborhood?

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by Borderstan.com August 8, 2012 at 2:00 pm 0

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com. 

"Green"

Enter your innovative idea for a chance to win a $5,000 grant at this year’s Green Festival. (Image courtesy of Green Festival)

Kermit the Frog warned us many years ago: It’s not always easy being green. But here in Borderstan, we do a pretty great job of maintaining an eco-friendly community, thanks to several of our sustainable and environmentally focused shops, restaurants and businesses.

This year, Ford Motor Company is looking to fuel more of your sustainable, forward-thinking ideas with its Ford Community Green Grant. Local non-profits and community leaders are encouraged to submit innovative proposals for a chance to win a $5,000 grant.

The deadline for entries is September 7, 2012, and the grant winner will be announced on Sunday, September 30 (the final day of this year’s Green Festival in DC). To apply, submit your idea to communitygreengrant[AT]actionpartners.com.

This year’s Eighth Annual Green Festival runs from 10 am until 7 pm on Saturday, September 29, and from 11 am until 6 pm on Sunday, September 30 at the Washington Convention Center.

For more information on the Ford Community Green Grant and the Green Festival, visit the grant’s website.

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by Borderstan.com August 6, 2012 at 2:00 pm 1,093 0

"Event"

Sajad Ghanizada and Andrew Mason from EventStir. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Nick Barron. Follow him on Twitter @nbarron; email him at nick[AT]borderstan.com.

It’s a late summer night and DC is headed home after work. Not so for the 70-plus people who’ve filled every corner of a Dupont townhouse. Pizza and beer await, once they check-in with Sajad Ghanizada, who verifies their attendance to the event through EventStir.

EventStir is what made the gathering, a happy hour for the Meetup group, DC Nightowls, possible in the first place. The Dupont based startup, founded by Andrew Mason and Ghanizada, lets you plan an event that only takes place if a certain number of people pay in advance.

EventStir not only keeps you from getting stuck with a big bill, it allows you to only pay for an event with a guaranteed minimum attendance. “We’re really selling event ideas,” Mason said. “EventStir was built as a platform to test concepts and see if enough people are interested.”

So far, EventStir has helped make everything from the camping trip among friends to a Potomac yacht cruise a reality. The cruise, a launch party for investors and area entrepreneurs, was how EventStir introduced itself to the world.

“We wanted to prove crowdfunding events could work by testing an over the top example,” Ghanizada said. If EventStir can make a party on a boat possible, Mason’s and Ghanizada’s thinking goes, then EventStir can help bring almost any event idea from concept to reality!

The startup itself may not have happened had it not been for a serendipitous meeting last November at Startup Weekend. Both Ghanizada and Mason, who didn’t know each other at the time, pitched similar event-focused ideas.

Mason pitched first, and Ghanizada thought his thunder had been stolen. “But the guys at the table I was sitting with said, ‘Pitch it anyway,'” Ghanizada said. “‘You never know what might happen.'” Ghanizada did pitch his idea, then he and Mason teamed up, grabbed some developers and started building the foundation for EventStir.

Three weeks later they left their jobs. A few months after they launched their product on a yacht, and now an increasing number of events are being scheduled through the site.

EventStir is currently focused on serving DC, but it may soon be spreading to other cities. In fact, right now anyone anywhere can use it to host a private event.

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by Borderstan.com August 1, 2012 at 2:00 pm 1,330 0

"Victoria Lai - Ice Cream"

Victoria Lai is the owner of Ice Cream Jubilee. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Chelsea Rinnig. Email her at chelsea[AT}borderstan.com

“Some people say I talk about ice cream all the time,” confessed Victoria Lai. “But really, ice cream is a joyful diversion from talking about work, which people in DC do all the time.”

Originally from Houston, Lai is the founder of Ice Cream Jubilee — an ice cream business that sprung from her humble blog and has since extended its reach throughout the Borderstan community.

Lai’s forays into dessert-making began while she was in law school and continued as she spent her vacation days away from her corporate law job to work part-time at Four and Twenty Blackbirds, a well-known pie shop in Brooklyn. After receiving her first ice cream maker as a gift, Lai began experimenting with flavors and playing with different flavor combinations, an experience she describes as “translating different ideas into new mediums.”

Her favorite flavors resemble inspirations from her life and incorporate everything from the Asian flavors of her Chinese-Singaporean background, to tasty cocktails and even playful childhood favorites (Peppermint Pop Rocks, anyone?).

Lai moved to her U Street NW apartment after accepting a job to work in the government, but bureaucracy did not hinder her creativity, as she continued to concoct flavors like Thai Iced Tea and Banana Bourbon Caramel.

In the summer of 2011, Lai began selling ice cream at the Grey Markets. Currently, she sells it to friends out of her home and at Feastly tasting events she hosts periodically.

“Feastly allows me to reach new people who may have read about Feastly in the newspaper, but have never heard of Ice Cream Jubilee,” explained Lai.

Not only does Lai love making ice cream for events, but she also revels in the challenge of planning the whole event.

“It can feel like a full-time job,” she explained, involving not just making large quantities of ice cream and inventing new flavors, but writing the blog posts, taking photos, coordinating guests and plugging the event through all of the various social media outlets, like Ice Cream Jubilee’s Facebook page and Twitter handle.

But Lai says that the process feeds her soul. She loves seeing her guests’ reactions when they taste a new flavor or when there happens to be extra Cardamom Black Pepper for another round of sampling. She believes that their joy illustrates why she chose the inherently light and effervescent name for her business, Ice Cream Jubilee.

“Happiness is not so hard to come by,” said Lai.

At some point in the next five years, Lai dreams of having an ice cream business, and is currently working on garnering neighborhood support and partners.

Ideally, Lai would love to open a storefront in the U Street, 14th Street or 9th Street neighborhoods. Until then, Lai is sure that “public service is in her blood” and that she will continue her dual-career, working government by day and serving ice cream as her avocation.

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by Borderstan.com July 26, 2012 at 10:00 am 1,360 4 Comments

From Ashley Lusk and Mike Kohn. Check out Ashley’s blog, Metropoetrylis, find her on Twitter @arlusk or email her at ashley[AT]borderstan.com. Find Mike on Twitter at @mike_kohn or send him an email at mike[AT]borderstan.com.

"Waffle"

Wafflegate: How one local business and Groupon started a news feeding frenzy (Luis Gomez Photos)

We recently learned about the closing of Back Alley Waffles as the news broke on Monday.

However, more surprising than the closing of the establishment is how owner Craig Nelsen informed clients of the restaurant’s closing. Nelsen posted a sign on the door stating that the business went under due to the “bloodthirsty business practices of Groupon.”

It didn’t take long for a picture of that sign to go live and for the news and accusations to start flying, as bloggers, neighbors and local papers worked to get to the bottom of the story.

Admittedly, we personally were among the masses with an initial reaction to side with the much-admired local business, over the aggressive and very large company, Groupon. But as the day went on, and the articles and interviews came out, the full-story unraveled, leaving all initial reactions (including our own) a bit one-sided.

Jessica Sidman at Washington City Paper reached out to Nelsen and was met with no response. Readers of the article, however, quickly contributed comments, blaming Nelsen’s voluntary participation in the Groupon model and his signature of acceptance of their terms.

“I doubt one lone Groupon offer could sink a whole business,” wrote one commenter in the article’s comments. “Surely there were some other financial problems and the owner is conveniently blaming all his problems on Groupon. Any prudent owner would have contacted any of the thousands of other small business owners who have participated in Groupon deals to understand how the payment process worked.”

Nelsen, himself, responded to these comments in The City Paper article and merely incited more responses against his position.

“I opened the waffle shop because I was struggling financially with my art gallery, so, yes, I was under-capitalized from the outset,” wrote Nelsen. “And, yes, I should have read the fine print on the contract, just like I should read the fine print on my Comcast contract.”

Tuesday morning, Business Insider was able to reach Nelsen for an extensive comment on the nature of Groupon’s business, and it published the story right away. Later, however, the story unfolded further as Business Insider” confirmed Groupon’s side of the story, complete with actual numbers and financial terms.

It is regrettable that Back Alley Waffles will no longer be serving steaming waffles along Blagdon Alley. But even more regrettable is the feeding frenzy and blame game that we, as reporters, bloggers and concerned neighborhood residents sometimes play.

Here at Borderstan, we love our small and local businesses — they are what keep our neighborhood unique and thriving, and we make an effort to cover them and profile local businesses. But at the end of the day, we, as well as other publications, are in the business of informing people, not taking sides.

These days, there is a fine line in journalism between delivering news quickly and delivering the whole story accurately — and supporting our local businesses, which form the backbone of our community and commercial corridors. We hope we can continue to keep our balance on that fine line, and keep our readers abreast of the latest community news — including local businesses.

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by Borderstan.com July 23, 2012 at 10:00 am 1,351 0

"Zvi Band"

Zvi Band may lead the hottest startup in DC. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Nick Barron. Follow him on Twitter @nbarron; email him at nick[AT]borderstan.com.

Zvi Band’s business, Contactually could change how everyone keeps in touch and just may be the biggest innovation to email since Google launched Gmail. The company is arguably DC’s hottest startup, making Band DC’s hottest entrepreneur. The DC-based company helps other businesses and entrepreneurs manage contacts, reminders and priorities.

“Band is both a great developer and great entrepreneur,” said Peter Corbett, chief executive officer of iStrategy Labs. “That’s not very common in DC. Most great entrepreneurs here are not developers, and most developers are not entrepreneurs.”

But Contactually is well-funded, well-connected and is generating paying customers. Band, who lives a few blocks south of Logan Circle, got the idea for the business last year when he realized how bad he was at keeping up with his contacts. Band began talking to people about his idea, especially those who manage a lot of contacts, like real estate agents.

At the time, Band had a Web development agency and one employee, Jeff Carbonella. Because the feedback they received from people was positive, he and Carbonella put together a prototype.

“It was just a basic, functional thing that we could start showing to people,” said Band. Then Tony Cappaert joined the team, and his first job was to show the prototype to as many people as possible. “That helped us gain further validation that [the prototype] was useful,” said Band.

It wasn’t until a meeting in California when Band met Paul Singh, a partner at startup accelerator, 500 Startups. According to Band, Singh said, “Honestly, you need to stop everything else you’re doing; focus on this full-time, and we’ll fund you.”

With that Band, Carbonella and Cappaert left behind their District lives and headed to the West coast. The team had four months to put together the best product they could before Demo Day, where they would demonstrate what they had created in front of potential investors. The trio worked 18-hour days, living in a two-bedroom apartment in California with three mattresses on the floor.

“We’d come home, take a quick shower, sleep, wake up and go back to the office,” described Band.

At the end of the four months the group demoed Contactually’s first product (twice in California and once in New York) and received funding for the concept. But all of that hard work paid off: the company now has a total of $500,000 in investment funds.

The original team of three at Contactually now includes three additional full-time employees and five interns in the company’s Dupont Circle headquarters. Despite the draw of tech companies to California, Contactually is planning to stay and grow in DC.

“We’ve seen that it’s really possible to build a very strong startup here in DC,” said Band.

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