DaveO

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  1. I also read the article. I imagine Tweaked is well versed in this issue as the article describes the interaction of the listserve for the area, which has been running since 1999. From my perspective these folks have a significant awareness of the issues. The demographics of the city have changed. Neighborhoods, that weren't restaurant attractive years ago are now densely populated with consumers that could have dined at CP years ago and now have ample or more than ample alternatives. The competition is fierce and expansive and at a level now that wasn't in existence 20 years ago let alone 7 or 8 years ago. Demographics have changed. On that note one of the issues referenced in the area is that local citizens have debated whether to increase density in CP or not. Density being both residential and commercial. The group is evidently split, with age being a determinant. Not surprising. More on that note: The Washington DC Economic Partnership http://wdcep.com has an email they can send out with the type of demographic reports for each of the distinctive 54 neighborhoods in DC wherein they are trying to attract businesses. They are the types of demographic reports that tenants receive all the time when surveying and analyzing potential locations. The nice thing about the report is that they are all consistent in their preparation. They have similarly prepared reports for each commercial neighborhood; descriptions of populations in 1/2 mile, 1 mile, and 3 mile radii. Behind that is an enormous amount of data. I happened to glance at 4; Cleveland Park, Van Ness (because its a wee bit up the street), Columbia Hgts, because it was the neighborhood alphabetically after Cleveland Park, and H Street...(well just because). Cleveland Park (CP) and Van Ness (VN) have far thinner demographics than C Hgts, and H Street. Pretty dramatic. Lots more potential diners, lots more $$ spent on dining, etc. Somewhat striking. I didn't go beyond those 4 neighborhoods because this is an overwhelming amount of data even for a geeky data kind of person. The folks in CP know this. They've evidently known this for a while. The discussion about density has been going on for a good period of time. It could be the core of the issue, or at least one of the key points. In any case the letter published by the Nam Viet folks was poignant and touching. They thanked regular customers. That is sweet and about as neighborhoodly as it gets. It is also represented in the Post article. But changing demographics, changing habits, and competition are difficult for all businesses, let alone restaurants. That never changes. Tough tough tough nut. For a different neighborhood I noticed something and had a conversation with some restaurant owners I know. In the Courthouse Arlington neighborhood this week I was working late and around prime time happy hour passed Courthouse Social and Fireworks Arlington. Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Tuesday was a delightful evening, Thursday slightly less comfortable but not bad. Both places have outdoor patio's and were busy, one very dramatically crowded. I went back and did quick counts of folks eating and dining. Roughly about 200 diners and drinkers both nights, roughly about evenly distributed between the two places. Pretty good crowds to my uneducated eye. Both places had more capacity, maybe up to twice as much, but these were weekdays not weekend nights. Also I have no idea how many diners and drinkers populated those two places earlier or later in the evenings. Looked very active though. These are restaurant/bars. They aren't region wide foodie destination places or dramatically known for any particular element. I'd primarily call them neighborhood places. For the time being and the season they are doing the right things. Courthouse Social particularly is a restaurant taking over a space that was cursed for over a decade with different operations trying and ultimately failing. Meanwhile during the week I ran into two restaurant partners meeting with a friend of theirs. I know all of them. This last restaurant has upped its competitive game. Its "known" in the foodie world and has a good region wide reputation for food quality. But it may have grown stale and unchanged. Over the last several months they have modernized their website, expanded their social web reach and efforts, and done some things to attract more business. I'd noticed the changes. I asked one of the partners if it was working. He didn't give me a hard yes or no. I don't know. I hope it is working on their behalf. They know. They also hopefully realize that sometimes these efforts take time to bear fruit. Just to keep a place going in an ever changing environment is difficult. It requires different skill sets than being the best chef or the most engaging FOH person in the region. All that being said, if I were a long term resident of CP, I'd be crushed at the loss of all those restaurants in the last few years. In the Courthouse Arlington area I still mourn the closing of Minh's; mostly reasonably good food, some excellent dishes, a great place for lunch takeout and very very nice people.
  2. ....and I did hit one of the versions of mussels here the other night. Thanks for the heads up. I think I might work through some of the variations and report back later. First experience--quite nice. More to report later.
  3. Barring injuries (the specific injuries you outline above) I completely agree. Having said that I'm just sort of meandering looking at other possibilities. The post above that mentions Giannis, the Greek Freak, is actually not the specific point I've been contemplating. Giannis is a THE prime example of a star that comes out of nowhere, or who makes an incredible leap, way beyond anyone ever imagined. I really mean him as an example...not the only option. A different example is the now starting center at Denver, Nikola Jokic. Did you see him this year? He was a sub/starter last year, was the opening game starter for Denver, was replaced as a starter then won the job back. Then he went bananas and is looking like a future BIG STAR. He is an incredible passer from the center position. Is easily the best most creative such passer in the NBA from that position and is similarly a quality scorer and rebounder. I caught him on some highlights, heard about him from a friend in Denver and saw him play in the 2nd half of the season. Whoa!!! A budding super star on the make, Where did that come from? His progress is similar to that of Giannis....and also similar to Curry and Green on the Warriors....players who explode into super stardom. Nobody saw Curry's development. He was about a 7th or 8th pick in a weak draft, was obviously a shooter but had only 1 year of playing point guard. He came into the league far far different than he is now. My lord he developed. Green was a 2nd round draft choice, a sub who got to start through injury to the starter. Bam Bam Bam. He became the great missing link that with Curry completely changed that team. Where do these guys come from??? Anyway this is just hypothesis, and my hope for more than 2 dominant teams. Houston soared this year and I think the creative move on their part came from their coach, D'antoni who changed the nature of their team. His coaching career is both creative and mostly successful when he matches skills to his style. Speaking of coaches Popovich with the Spurs creates winners and has done so with changing teams and leaders.......and we can always hope for that explosion with the Wiz..... But I demur....GS and Cleveland are the clear favorites. I'd just like to see 2 or 3 other teams challenge them at that level.
  4. I've been there a couple of times and believe I met Albert Small once at an industry activity. There is some history on the web on he and his family. In the 80's my fiancé and I thought an invitation to our "big Jewish wedding" at the "Small" Synagogue might look cute. (It was too small) Its story and history are really about the history of a community in that city. There are neat places like that in many cities and they depict many interesting (usually immigrant)communities, not necessarily Jewish at all. They are interesting if you want to learn about the folks that helped to grow a city.
  5. Aside from injuries or some other unplanned event I can't see a change from another GS/Cleveland match up. That being said here is the one kind of change/evolution that can change things: Its called the evolution of Giannis/ the Greek Freak....sort of well described by this story in Sports Illustrated Giannis improved so much, got so good, became so dominant...it was freaky to see how great he became. (admittedly I only saw him a couple of times...but geez!!!) He is talented on many levels and has a unique physical package. But boy he got good fast this past season. As the story describes he needs to improve his outside/3 pt shooting....and then uh oh!!!! Others before him have done so. Even if he improves at the same rate the rest of his team might still not be good enough. But if he improves and some other players improve at a level that nobody can see or predict than of course many things can change. There is a complete unpredictability to know which players burst through an existing level and vault to the next level. There are always players that leap into greatness and players that simply never substantially improve. I'd like to see Giannis continue to get better and hopefully see some others make similar improvements. Heck, Green, Curry, and Thompson did not come into the league with the highest of expectations nor were the most coveted first picks in the draft. Now look at them.
  6. .....almost 11 years later. I REMEMBER BERTHA's!!!!!! Bertha's has been around for decades. OMG, I was there a lot. It opened in '72. I was probably there soon after and then a lot. LOL. Mussels/Beer Beer/Mussels. Bertha's had beer mussels and no air hockey table. Other nearby places had beer and air hockey tables but no mussels. "You're So Vain" was always playing in the background. I still return on occasion.
  7. Ooooh thank you. Reminder to self--Go to Lyon Hall for HH...better yet...ANY DAY (these days I'm really not an HH person, but that mussel deal at Dino's has been so good and so compelling ).
  8. The Thursday evening pot of mussels cooked in a white wine and garlic broth with tremendous bread remains one of the great dining deals in DC. Very large pot, supposedly a kilo (might be--it is YUGE) --The PRICE? Knock my socks off and call me silly!!!! $10. I do enjoy mussels. I order them around town and usually find them enjoyable. I don't need to have some of the more inventive, creative and tasty broths. I enjoy mussels. Dino's is a classic broth. They provide a toasted bread but can also provide their far better high grade bread used for dipping. Beers,wines, and quite a few cocktails reflect HH prices. $10 for a large pot of quality mussels. I've recently seen food and deal love for Granville Moore's $12 pot on Monday's here and here I have a difficult time getting to H Street on Monday's. I have not been to G/M's in years and Granville Moore's is a mussel centric restaurant/bar. These at Dino's hit the spot and are light on the wallet. I was there last Thursday at the bar...sort of quiet. A TV with the make up Nats Orioles game on at that hour. First inning the Nats were quickly up 1-0. But those mussels were so scrumptious. My head went down. Next time I glanced at the TV the Nats were up 5-0 with all the runs in the first inning. Compelling inning vs the mussels. The mussels won!!!!! That mussel deal has to be one of the best HH deals in town.
  9. Yep. As the series progressed the Cavs seemed to give fewer minutes to reserves. Over the season they were leaders among 3 pt shots attempted and made but I guess GS defenses that too well and so Lebron and Kyrie went more and more to drives and isolation and as talented as Kyrie is I doubt he's been consistently great.... ever. I don't think he can sustain the necessary greatness needed against GS Lebron was a better distributor than scorer when he started but he's never played with a James Worthy kind of finisher. They'll likely meet again next yr. I agree with you. Right now GS is a freaking monster team with ridiculous talent. What other team could put 4-5 all stars on the court w/ 2 of them being among the top 5 in the league?? Ever
  10. Fierce rivalry. I enjoyed the last game only in so far as it was reasonably competitive with Cleveland more or less in striking distance from the time they fell behind in the 2nd quarter. They couldn't get over the hump. Lebron carried them again. Thompson actually scored some points, JR Smith did about as well as he can do, Kyrie seemed to falter and reported that he hurt his leg then back, and Love sucked on the scoring front. Cavs reserves did nothing of note. GS played their death squad of the 5 best players most of the game and ultimately all that talent was unmatchable with Durant being a killer. Even with GS being so good I still think its a potentially competitive match up but to get there it requires the best Cleveland has to offer all the time. Durant really rounded out his game this series with points, effective scoring, defense and rebounding. He rose to the occasion. He was like Lebron. In this generation of basketball I think that is the ultimate compliment. Sort of reminds me of the mid 80's with great Celtic and Laker teams consistently competing at the top of the sport. Its simply the competitiveness that is similar; the nature of the game and the types of stars and skills are extremely different. I sort of hope they do it again next year....except if the Wiz steal a star or two from somewhere and break in from the East.
  11. I know it became Korean owned before 2000, how much earlier than that I don't recall. Before that change I thought it quite good for the region and after that change I couldn't detect a change in the bagel quality. Isn't that great? You don't have to be Jewish to make a great bagel. Now can a life long Jewish deli man make good bulgogi? Don't know!!!
  12. I believe its been Korean owned for decades and I counted it among the best bagel shops in the region for decades in my mind right toward the top. Damned if I didn't visit virtually all of them in MD, DC and VA at some point in time.
  13. The two FireWorks are a little different. Lots of overlap but differences. I found the crust miserable and inedible when the Arlington branch opened some 6-7 years ago. They made a big change....years ago and the pizzas are quite good imho. The toppings have always been excellent. The tartufo referenced above has an excellent mix of white cheeses topped by an overabundance of mushrooms and is superb. My long time favorite in Arlington is the Marisco with shrimp and some spicy elements. Still on the menu in Arlington, not on the menu in Leesburg. The Arlington beer selection is immense. Frankly though I'm not knowledgeable about craft beers, but the friendly bartenders have guided me to a few I favor. Generally the bartenders have good service and are well schooled in the beers they carry. More power to the management...they have done a good job educating their staff. I can't speak to the depth of the wine list but I understand their buyer staff works hard at it to keep it diversified and full. The current Arlington menu is already outdated with regard to their "square plate" lunch special. Don't depend on the website. If you want to know what is available on a particular weekday ask. Arlington recently upgraded their specialty cocktail menu. The first time they did this maybe a little over a year ago, the choices were simpler. The focus was on creating specialty drinks that could be made without much muss, fuss or took too much time. This newer list appears to be more sophisticated and I know it was created by someone steeped in some of the best attributes in creating quality mixed drinks. Must admit though I haven't tried a single new cocktail. The one thing I miss was a personal favorite in Arlington, a delectable 1/2 roast chicken with root vegetables. For a period it was my favorite roast chicken in Arlington and priced well to boot. None of that $38, $48, or $58 nonsense and at teen pricing was well worth the value. Oh well, pizzas are still quite good. Frankly haven't been to the Leesburg branch in several years. Its similar enough to Arlington that I'd rather eat elsewhere when in Leesburg...but my recollection of it was that it also was quite enjoyable.
  14. I had a small tartufo for lunch today; I believe the first time I've had it. Very enjoyable. I'll order that again!!! Meanwhile the day bartender is currently the beer manager. I was sitting next to two salespeople from a Va brewery as they extolled their brews. The beer manager never needs to buy another beer for as long as he holds that job. Nice gig if you are into craft beers.
  15. Being a techno math monkey geek, I looked at the demographic report (undated) for Cleveland Park Sam's Shopping Center and then compared it to some other demographic reports for some other retail properties in the city. Its simply not that great. The Cleveland Park analysis uses a 1 mile radius for residential and walk around day traffic. The others I looked at used half mile radii. A 1 mile radius is 4 times as large. Relative to other sites its simply not that great. And then.... As Mark Furstenberg noted: 1. Realistically the East Side of Cleveland Park has no residential population. It backs into Rock Creek Park. That cuts the potential residential population by a lot. (hence the close by demographics are thinner than other locations) 2. For people on the West Side of Connecticut Avenue and Cleveland Park the new retail project at Wisconsin Avenue is a draw. (Cathedral Commons). Its competition for a retail draw, that doesn't have the largest closest population to start with. 3. I'd also add that there are virtually no hotel rooms in the immediate vicinity. That makes a significant difference. The larger the hotel and the more connected to conventions and meetings the likelier those visitors will go to fancier, name, more expensive restaurants; often close by. Anecdotally I leased the first DC Ruth's Chris at Connecticut and S in the early 1980's. After the deal was done I asked why they chose the location. I mean REALLY--why that location?? Among a variety of reasons it was near the Washington Hilton. (there were other reasons also). I guess that still works. The Ruths Chris is still there and its been over 30 years. Also that property sold to a heavy weight real estate company for big bucks a long time ago. Plenty of opportunity for that rent to be increased by big beaucoup bucks. Its still there though. Meanwhile there are a lot of restaurants near the Marriott at Wardman Park. Not necessarily all great...but a lot more restaurant space then the nearby residential community might support on its own. And then there are many other reasons. Interesting that more moderately priced restaurants survive and thrive and the one's that are a cut or two or three above have had difficulties. That is telling. Aside from the demographics it is simply difficult to compete all the time. It always is. Meanwhile I liked the comment about the beef hue at Nam Viet. I think I'll go over to Nam Viet in Clarendon and give it a shot.