Sheryar Durrani didn’t shy away from hard work, recalls U Scoot (1949 Vermont Ave. NW) owner and close friend Andre Esser.
“He wasn’t beneath getting his hands dirty,” Esser said. “Any time I needed a hand or a help or a favor, nothing was beneath him.”
Mayor Muriel Bowser, Ward 1 D.C. Councilmember Brianne Nadeau and other local politicians cut ribbons at 14 Shaw- and U Street-area businesses during a “ribbon cutting roundup” organized by Shaw Main Streets earlier today.
Duffy’s Irish Pub (2106 Vermont Ave. NW) and U Scoot (1949 Vermont Ave. NW) were two of the businesses honored with a ceremony.
“We’ve been open since June, but it feels like it’s official now that they’ve come here and cut a ribbon,” U Scoot owner Andre Esser said.
Bowser was scheduled to cut ribbons during the openings, but had to cancel many appearances — including ones at U Scoot and Duffy’s — at the last minute.
Duffy’s general manager and former owner Andy Duffy laid out dozens wings in anticipation of Bowser’s arrival, but when he cut the large red ribbon, he was joined only by Nadeau, new Duffy’s owner Casey Callister and Shaw Main Streets Executive Director Alexander Padro.
As attendees left the pub with to-go boxes packed with wings, Duffy and Callister said they were just happy to be recognized, even if the mayor herself couldn’t make it.
“We’re very grateful to have that kind of support,” added Callister. “I think it shows that we care about businesses here in D.C. and our politicians care.”
Blocks away at U Scoot, Esser echoed the positivity. “It was a success,” he said. “[The mayor] wasn’t here, but it was still nice.”
Photo of Mayor Bowser via Twitter/MayorBowser
Pope Francis took an unexpected detour today.
His Holiness was spotted cruising down U Street in his trademark Fiat earlier this afternoon. Was the pope hungry for a U Street taco? It’s unclear. What is clear, however, is that his appearance came as a surprise to many.
“We thought it was a bank robbery or something,” said Andre Esser, who owns U Scoot at the corner of Vermont Avenue and U Street NW. “They were yelling at a guy to get out of a van, all these cops.”
“Next thing we know, the pope comes driving by in a Fiat,” Esser added.
Esser said that although police presence had been heavy around the area all day, officers only started to block off the street five minutes before the pope’s arrival. And then: pope.
“I was actually getting ready to leave,” said Esser. “And as I’m leaving, I’m like… there’s the pope coming by. It was a huge surprise.”
“It almost looked as if he was blessing my business,” he added. “I was going to put that on my Facebook, the pope just blessed my business.”
Photo and video courtesy of U Scoot
Every night at sundown, two blindingly bright sodium-vapor lamps illuminate a corner near the intersection of Vermont Avenue and U Street NW.
In the hot summer air, crowds of laughing bar-hoppers and restaurant-goers in shorts and flip-flops shuffle past. The corner is bright and vibrant.
But just a few months ago, that corner of the intersection was much darker — in the literal sense.
“For a long time, this was kind of seen as a forsaken corner,” says Andre Esser.
Esser, along with Sheryar Durrani, owns and manages local business U Scoot, a scooter rental shop and dealership that opened at the intersection in June.
“This corner always looked sort of sketchy,” says Esser. “You had people panhandling that I had to chase off, people out here loitering all the time. I don’t know the crime statistics on this corner, but I’m sure there have been crimes here over the years.”
Esser, who also owns Redline Motorsports in Takoma Park, had a plan to change all that. Before opening his scooter business, he mounted two powerful lights on the building.
“Turning on the lights makes it a brighter corner,” Esser says. “Thieves don’t usually tend to hang out on bright corners.”
Esser also hired two plainclothes security guards and installed over $10,000 worth of state-of-the-art surveillance equipment.
“The cameras and lights aren’t just for our own personal protection, especially the lights,” says Esser. “I feel like if I’m going to have a business, then it needs to be a safe corner.”
Esser says D.C. Police were glad when he installed the cameras.
“They came up to me right away and said, hey, are those good cameras? Can we have access to them?” Esser recalls “And we said absolutely. It’s for everybody’s safety. We want to assist the police department with making this a safer corner.”
In his two months of running the business, Esser says he’s helped to aid police by recording and turning over footage of three crime incidents. Just last week, U Scoot’s cameras caught a hit-and-run as it happened.
“Hopefully we’ve detracted from some of the crime,” says Esser. “That’s the goal. It’s not to just catch it. It’s to deter it from happening.”
Even when he’s at home, Esser says he sometimes uses an app on his phone to watch the cameras late at night. But he’s not only only watching out for scooter thefts.
“I’ll be having dinner or playing with my kids and I’ll peek in and make sure everything is okay,” Esser says “I’m kind of like Big Brother, but looking out for this corner at nighttime.”
“If there’s a car accident, if someone’s assaulted, if someone’s car is broken into, we’ll see it,” says Esser.
“[A] person might steal a bicycle,” he adds. “Or that person might shoot someone. That person might mug someone. That person should probably be off the streets.”
Photo of U Scoot at night courtesy of U Scoot
Police are currently seeking the driver of a car that plowed into a cyclist near the intersection of U Street and Vermont Avenue NW on Friday afternoon.
A surveillance camera mounted on local business U Scoot caught the crash as it happened. In the video provided to Borderstan last Friday, a green car can be seen turning left and hitting a cyclist, who is knocked to the ground.
D.C. Police Commander Jacob Kishter confirmed today the car did not stop after striking the cyclist.
The cyclist was taken to the hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries, said D.C. Fire and EMS spokesman Oscar Mendez on Friday.
Police did not say whether the cyclist or a witness was able to report the car’s license plate.
Video courtesy of U Scoot
(Updated at 5:20 p.m.) A cyclist was struck by a car at the intersection of Vermont Avenue and U Street NW around 3 p.m. today, said D.C. Fire and EMS spokesman Oscar Mendez.
A surveillance camera mounted on local business U Scoot caught the crash as it happened. In the video provided to Borderstan, a green car can be seen turning left and hitting a cyclist, who is knocked to the ground.
Mendez said the cyclist was taken to the hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
D.C. Police did not have more information about the crash when contacted earlier today.
Photos courtesy of U Scoot
Thrill-seekers in the U Street neighborhood will have a place to rent scooters starting this weekend.
Andre Esser and his crew at U Scoot are revving up for their grand opening at 12 p.m this Saturday at Vermont and U streets, steps away from the U Street Metro station.
Though the store is currently open and selling merchandise, Esser says it will not start renting out its 20 electric-blue bikes until Saturday.
Rentals work like this: Customers with a valid driver’s license and credit card are allowed to ride the bikes wherever the included gallon of gas in the tank can take them. Esser said he only asks that customers stay in the District, even though the bikes can travel up to 100 miles on that gallon.
Tentative rental rates are $25 for one hour, $49 for three hours and $99 for a day, but that those prices are still being finalized. Rates will go up to $39 per hour during prime time hours from 6-12 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights.
Esser says his goal is to have over 100 scooters at the new location within a year.
In addition to renting out scooters, the store also sells folding electric bikes, helmets, clothing and locks.
Esser says he hopes his business will bring a new crowd to the U Street neighborhood.
“Having an added attraction down here is going to bring in people who might not usually come to U Street,” Esser says. “Where they might usually go to Adams Morgan or Georgetown, now they might come rent scooters for an hour or two and then they’ll go have dinner on U Street.”