Amsterdam Cafe and Lounge (1208 U Street NW) is nearly ready to open, says one of the owners.
The new business is set to open in the former Indulj space within the next two weeks or as soon as a liquor license transfer goes through, says co-owner Belay Abere.
A little background: Abere owned Duke’s City Lounge in the early 2000s before subleasing the space — and transferring the liquor license — to the former owners of Indulj.
“We’re concentrating more on the cafe than the bar,” Abere said. “We hope people are looking forward to a nice coffee shop where they can bring their laptops, sit down and be comfortable.”
Abere added that the cafe and lounge will be open from approximately 7 a.m. to 1 a.m.
In the morning, the cafe will sell coffee, teas and breakfast food. When the sun sets, Abere said the space will transform into a live jazz lounge that sells light food and drinks.
By Michelle Lancaster. You can follow her and let her know your news on Twitter @MichLancaster. Email her at michellel[AT]borderstan.com.
Beautification comes at a price for city residents; the flower boxes and trees are an improvement to acres of concrete, but the process from start to finish is anything but lovely. Adams Morgan businesses and residents have been enduring a seemingly endless improvement project that has led to traffic snarls, decreased business and a lot of headaches. P Street businesses remember the year plus where parking spaces for local restaurants were non-existent as construction was underway.
Well, U Street, you’re next. The city plans on beginning work on U Street between 9th and 14th Streets NW on Monday, June 11, and will go one block at a time, starting at 9th Street and moving westward. (For the full story, see Tom Hays’ Streetscape Project: U Street Rehabilitation To Begin June 11.)
Sidewalks will be widened, the streets will be repaved and storm drains replaced in addition to the landscaping components. The Washington Post reports you should expect less parking and anticipate making alternate arrangements for about a year. I wonder if anyone’s warned all the prospective buyers further down 14th Street.
From Tom Hay. Questions for Tom? Send him an email at Tom[AT]borderstan.com and follow him on Twitter@Tomonswann.
A large crowd turned out for the pre-construction meeting on the streetscape rehabilitationproject along U Street NW. At Wednesday night’s meeting it was announced that the project is scheduled to begin the week of June 11 and is expected to be complete in April 2013. The blocks to be upgraded include both the north and south side of U Street from 9th Street NW to 14th Street NW.
Councilmember Jim Graham (D-ward 1) was the opening speaker and quickly tried to temper the anxiety anyone in the room had by explaining that this project will not be nearly as disruptive at the current 18th Street Adams Morgan project — at least during this first phase. Graham then introduced many stakeholders, including contacts from the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), Myla Moss of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1B and Brian Card of the U Street Neighborhood Association.
When Graham asked for a show of hands, residents slightly outnumbered business owners in attendance at the meeting.
Improvements and Disruptions Detailed
A representative from David Volkert & Associates Engineering walked attendees through the improvements and gave details on what to expect during construction. The improvements will include new curbs, gutters, sidewalks, bus pads, bike racks, storm drains, traffic signals, lighting and multispace parking meters. The $5 million project is mostly federally funded with about 16% coming from local funds.
Construction will begin at 9th and U Streets NW and move west toward 14th Street. Upgrades will take about three to four weeks per block, per side. During that time, parking will be interrupted: first as the curbs are replaced, then as pedestrians are routed into the parking lane as sidewalks are replaced. The sidewalk will be widened where conditions do not meet ADA standards. Planners hope to maintain two lanes of traffic in each direction. Steel plates and ramps will allow pedestrians to access affected businesses during the process. Bus stops may be moved temporarily when they are in the construction zone.
Business Owners Are Concerned
During the question and answer period, business owners expressed serious concerns about the impact on their operations. Councilmember Graham pointed out that owners will be able to apply for no-interest loans for assistance. A few commenters dismissed the benefit of the loan program and suggested other compensation such as tax relief. The project will impact a variety of independent stores, restaurants and bars. Among the impacted businesses are such U Street landmarks as Ben’s Chili Bowl, Lee’s Flower Shop, the Lincoln Theater and Nellie’s Sports Bar.
Phase Two and Beyond
The second phase of the project from 14th to 18th Street is scheduled to begin in late 2013. That segment is expected to be more intrusive as there will be deeper digging in the street for upgrades. The upgrades along 14th Street NW are on hold as extensive development currently underway would interfere with the project. The current target for the start of that project is now fiscal year 2015 or 2016.
The Borderstan neighborhoods have seen similar streetscape upgrades over the years. Recent ones include the blocks of P Street west of Dupont Circle, 17th Street NW from P to R Streets and several blocks of 18th Street NW in the middle of the Adams Morgan commercial strip. While the reviews of the improvements have generally been favorable; the disruption to the businesses especially during the P Street and now 18th Street NW projects have been well documented.
The votes are in and our readers have spoken! Just after the new year we opened voting in the first Borderstan reader poll of 2012. We asked our followers, “What kind of businesses do you want in Borderstan?”
We gave voters 12 choices plus an “other” category. Voters were allowed to pick as many of the choices as they wanted. The top four choices were about food, coffee, movies and clothes.
Overwhelmingly, the most popular choices called for more dining and entertainment establishments. Leading the list — with more than 15% of all votes cast — was cheap eats/diners. (See the compete list at the end of this story.)
It seems lots of us want an alternative to fine-dining — such as Estadio or Komi — that have come to the Logan and Dupont Circle areas in recent years. Residents may get their wish for cheap eats in the New Year. Just last week, Taylor Gourmet opened a location near 14th and U Streets and a burger joint called Black & Orange is scheduled to open across the street in the coming weeks.
In general, food options were the big winners: 37% of all votes went to just three categories, cheap eats, delis/corner markets and grocery stores; a number of the votes for “Other” were also related to food. In addition, indie coffee shops/cafes garnered 11% of votes cast. Bars and lounges took just 4% of the votes, but movie theaters got 13% of reader votes. The clothing stores option was in double digits with 10%.
In second place was the corner markets/delis option with 13% of all votes. No doubt people want a convenient alternative to the P Street Whole Foods and the 17th Street Safeway. There are a few local independent markets; notably the Best DC Supermarket at 1507 U Street. We should see some more options in the future. It was recently mentioned that Trader Joe’s might take the ground floor retail space of the apartment building planned for the southwest corner of 14th and U Streets.
Readers were also interested in seeing a movie theatre in the area (13% of votes), an alternative to going to the multiplex at Gallery Place or Georgetown. While one comment pointed out that the chances of that are slim, there is a short-term option to take in a first run movie here in Borderstan. The landmark Lincoln Theatre in the 1200 block of U Street will be showing The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo until January 18.
Rounding out the top four choices, were votes for indie coffee shops/cafes (11%). This one is not a surprise since we have just recently lost a few such establishments. Last year Mid City Cafe closed its doors, and both Love Cafe and Artfully Chocolate (ACKC) announced closings within two weeks of each other (although both have other locations that will remain open).
Fortunately, we still have several independent options including Java House, Steam Cafe, Dolcezza and Filter in the Dupont area and Peregrine Espresso, Pitango, U Street Cafe and Cafe Collage in the Logan and U Street area.
The only other choice to make it into the double digits was clothing stores (10%).
Whatever your vote may have been, remember to support your local businesses. The closings of several Borderstan favorites in recent months underscores the risks local retailer face in an increasingly expensive real estate market.
What kind of businesses do readers want?
- Cheap eats/diners: 15%
- Small delis/corner markets: 13%
- Movie theaters: 13%
- Indie coffee shops/cafes: 11%
- Clothing stores: 10%
- Grocery stores: 9%
- Gift stores: 6%
- Other: 6%
- Pet supply/grooming/day care places: 4%
- Bars/nightclubs/lounges: 4%
- Children’s stores: 3%
- Office supply stores: 3%
- Furniture stores: 2%