Saturday, June 30, 2012

Open Houses in and around Bloomingdale scheduled for 07/01/2012

Given the intensity of the real estate market in DC, and in Bloomingdale in particular of late, I have no doubt that there will be plenty of folks who will brave the heat to visit Open Houses in and around the neighborhood on Sunday. Here is the same info in a map format.

**Agents, to have your open houses listed in this weekly post, you must tag them in MRIS by the Friday before the open house. If you have an open house in the immediate area (Bloomingdale, LeDroit Park, Eckington, Shaw, Truxton Circle) that does not show up, please add in the comments below.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Ward 5 redistricting: Bloomingdale to be part of new ANC 5E

This article on Ward 5 redistricting appears in the just-released Summer 2012 issue of the Ward 5 Heartbeat by Brookland resident Abigail Padou.  Note that Bloomingdale will be moving from ANC 5C to ANC 5E.  The election for the ANC 5E commissioners will be part of the November 2012 general election -- with the newly elected commissioners taking office in January 2013.
Number of ANCs in Ward 5 to increase from three to five

Click here for Ward 5 redistricting map:

The District`s once-in-a-decade redistricting process has produced new boundaries for Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) throughout Ward 5.

As a result of redistricting, the number of ANCs in Ward 5 will increase from three to five. The new commissions are ANC 5A through 5E. The number of ANC Commissioners has stayed almost the same, increasing from 36 to 37. New boundaries for Single Member Districts (SMDs) have also been drawn.

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners are unpaid, nonpartisan officials who serve two-year terms. Each commissioner represents approximately 2,000 residents in an area called a ``single member district`` (SMD). ANCs hold public meetings once a month.

All Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners are up for election on November 6, 2012. Residents will vote according to the new boundaries at that time. The new boundaries will go into effect on January 1, 2013.

Candidates running for ANC Commissioner need the signatures of at least 25 registered voters in their Single Member District to get on the ballot. Petitions are available for pickup at the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics starting July 9. Petitions are due back on August 8.

ANCs receive quarterly ``allotments`` of funds from the District of Columbia to pay for office expenses and grant-giving. According to Gottlieb Simon, Executive Director of the Office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, the existing bank balances of Ward 5`s three ANCs will be ``collected`` before the end of 2012 and redistributed to the five new ANCs on the basis of their population.

Citywide, ``the ANCs will receive the same allotment next year as this year,`` said Mr. Simon. Since the funds must be divided among five ANCs instead of three in Ward 5, each ANC can expect to receive a smaller amount.

The quarterly allotments in 2012 were approximately $8,000 per ANC in Ward 5.

According to the D.C. Code, the role of the ANC is to ``advise the Council of the District of Columbia, the Mayor and each executive agency, and all independent agencies, boards and commissions of the government of the District of Columbia with respect to all proposed matters of District government policy.``

The District is expected to give local ANCs 30 days` notice of ``government actions or proposed actions.`` If an ANC makes a recommendation in writing regarding the government action, the government is required to give the recommendation ``great weight`` in its deliberations.

ANCs are given ``great weight`` in matters that affect their commission area, such as zoning variances, liquor licenses, permits and planning.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

missing bernese mountain dog 4 months old

Hermosa was picked up in front of 145 Rhode island avenue nw at around 3:40pm by a white middle age woman in a van with 3 children. She has not been surrended to any of the humane society offices yet. Hermosa is very well behaved and unfortunately likely to not put up a fight If taken by anyone.
Please contact :
Verenice 301-704-6033
Ryan griffin 202-262-8921

knocking on doors

Care to comment on this topic from the LeDroit Park list?


Thank you so much for posting this.
Please report this activity to MPD. I`ve also cc`ed Lt. Jova.
For all - Please report all suspicious activity to MPD immediately.

Marc Morgan
President, LeDroit Park Civic Association

we live on 3rd St. South of Anna Cooper Circle, 2 houses down from the Elks Lodge. Thanks


--- In, ``forevernina`` wrote:

Hi Everyone,

I wanted to shoot a quick message out and see if anyone else in the neighborhood has had the following occurance happen to them. Last night arounf 9:30 p.m. we had to women in their early 20`s knock and the door and ask if they could talk to someone about the apartment for rent. We informed them that there wasn`t an apartment for rent and asked her where she heard it from. She said some guy on the street told her. I infomred her that our neighbor was renting his apartment. They proceeded to go know on his door. My partner and I thought it was weird that they would be ``apartment hunting`` at 9:30 at night.

On to this morning, I`m working from home and around 9:30 a.m. received another knock at the door from a young man probably in his late teens. He asked if Mrs. Jones was here. I informed him no Mrs. Jones lived here. He apologized and left.

I`m usually not hyper sensitive about things like this, but given the events that transpired a few months ago and the fact that both of these ``random`` visits happened within a 12 hour window I thought it odd. I didn`t open the door, I just spoke through the window. Wanted to see if we were the only ones `visited`. Thanks in advance.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

is the barbed wire atop Mt. Bethel Baptist Church's fence at 1st & Thomas NW the * only * barbed wire in Bloomingdale ?

A neighbor sent me this pic of the fence at 1st & Thomas Street NW -- Mt. Bethel Baptist Church's surface parking lot next to Windows Cafe -- and asks this question:

"Is this the only barbed wire that we have in Bloomingdale?"

Not sure.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

missing cat - grey and white short hair - at 1st & V Street NW

Well loved male short hair cat went missing on Saturday from 1st and V NW. This is a medium build cat, 2yr old, grey on his back, white underneath, white face with grey chin and a grey spot by his nose.  He is used to running around outside, but never has been gone this long. If you see him, please let me know at  thank you!

found pit bull male, very sweet & scared, brown & white, hazel eyes

On 2nd Street @ V Street, crying to get into apartment building where no one knew him
Call Zakee at 415 269 1246 if can help find his family
No collar or tags

yard sale this Saturday, 06-30-2012, to support the Rodeo on Randolph Place event scheduled for Saturday, 8-25-2012

The Rodeo on Randolph Place event is scheduled for Saturday, 8-25-2012. The yard sale this Saturday, 6-30-2012 is intended to serve as a fundraiser for the August Rodeo on Randolph Place event.

See this announcement from Wanda Foster for this Saturday's yard sale event:

Our second Yard Sale will be held on June 30th at 2nd and Florida Ave from 8am-4pm to raise money for the event.
We look to have a Grand Ole Time.
Wanda Foster
Randolph Block Captain
And here is the announcement for the main rodeo event in August:
Rodeo on Randolph Place

Please join your neighbors for Randolph`s Western Bar B Que
As we prepare for our 12th Annual Meet and Greet: (Hay-rific)

Pull out those wrangler jeans and cowboys hats and boots it`s time to square dance.
We are looking to have tons of fun and games, if you know of vendors who are interested in participating please feel free in sharing

When: Saturday August 25, 2012

Time: 11am-7pm

DJ and Live Music Bring and share your favorite songs, games and much more

Cost $20 per household,

Basement rentals pay $20 (Money Due No Later than July 31, 2012) Additional guest $10


Barbeque (Pork, Chicken), Hot Dogs, Hamburgers (Turkey), Mushroom Burgers,

Fish, Baked Beans, Mac & Cheese, Green Beans, Salads, Corn, Pig Roast

Moon bounce, Face Painting, Cotton Candy, Popcorn etc:

Regular Raffle: Plenty of Prizes

Raffle Fundraiser: features 42” Flat Screen, Kindle Fire, $100 Cash; Tickets are $2.00 each and 6 for $10

We are asking all neighbors to participate with selling raffles; Tickets are available from any committee member

Ted Kill @134, Nathaniel Gaskins @ 144, Rachel Wong @ 1707 2nd St., Irene Jordan and (Sharon Burns) @ 143, Theresa Williams @ 211 Fla. Ave., Wanda Foster @ 141

See you there or be Square! 

Bloomingdale community walk -- Friday, 06/29/2012

ANC Commissioners Mueller, Youngblood, and Fournier Invite You to the next Bloomingdale Community Walk

Help Bloomingdale continue to grow into a safer and friendlier neighborhood!

Who:You! ...and your children, dogs, friends, etc.
All are welcome to come, regardless of where you live. The walks deter crime and build community as we meet neighbors all over Bloomingdale
When:Friday, June 29, 2012 at 7:00 p.m.
Where:Northwest corner of 1st and Rhode Island NW(Meet in front of Windows!)

Monday, June 25, 2012

WaPo: McMillan tours on hold for now

I have not seen the press release that John Salatti issued over the weekend referenced in this artcle. (Update: ANC 5C03 Commissioner Hugh Youngblood has supplied a link to a press release titled "The District Bars Residents from the McMillan Sand Filtration Site" by Stronghold resident Kirby Vining).

The underground sand vaults at McMillan, photographed in 2006. (Robert A. Reeder - The Washington Post)

Posted at 05:25 PM ET, 06/25/2012
By Mike DeBonis

On and off for two decades, District residents and other curious parties have been free to tour the historic and atmospheric premises of the McMillan Sand Filtration Site, the fenced-off former water treatment facility at North Capitol Street and Michigan Avenue NW famous for its ethereal masonry towers and underground vaults.

In the past two years, community leaders from neighboring Bloomingdale have held a number of well-attended public tours of the site, in addition to giving access to smaller groups including art and architecture students. They’re awesome; I highly recommend taking one.

But now, as the site moves toward redevelopment, the public’s access is on hiatus.

Earlier this month, the D.C. government’s real estate director, Jeff Miller, e-mailed John Salatti, one of the Bloomingdale activists who have led the recent tours. Miller wrote that due to concerns about the “safety and stability of portions of the site,” the only access given to the site will be for “survey, stabilization work, or other development-related studies.” The locks were changed, making Salatti’s key useless.

That terse missive prompted Salatti to do two things. First, a set of tours originally planned for this past weekend was put on hold. Second, he tried to figure out what prompted the change in policy. Miller blamed the city’s Department of General Services, which in turn put the blame back on Miller. That incensed Salatti enough to issue a news release this weekend decrying the change.

Miller responded today in an e-mail to Salatti, writing that he supports the tours but a “safety assessment” of the site is needed. Once completed, he wrote, “we will then be able to determine how best to proceed with future tours on a case by case basis.”

So, long story short, it is unclear when, if ever, the public will be able to tour McMillan before the redevelopment plans proceed to construction — something that’s at least 18 months away.

Salatti still wants answers on why the status quo ante had to change. “It’s not that they’re about to bring the steam shovels in and tear the place apart,” he said. “They’re really being spare about what’s driving this.”

Jose Sousa, a spokesman for the city economic development office, suggested that it’s unusual and unwise to give private citizens like Salatti the keys to a 25-acre piece of city property without much supervision. “We have to basically regulate access to the site to maintain safety and security at that location,” he said.

And, unrelated to this Mike DeBonis post above -- Hugh Youngblood has supplied a link to a cross-section of a McMillan underground water filtration cell.

Green Paws & Houndstooth Photography: Reserve your spot now for Saturday, July 14!

(Note that Houndstooth Photography`s Gracy Obuchowicz is a Bloomingdale resident!)

Hi, Bloomingdale! We`ve got another fabulous event coming up at Green Paws, and I really hope folks can make it out!

On Saturday, July 14, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., prize-winning photographer and owner of Houndstooth Photography Gracy Obuchowicz will be conducting pet portrait sessions at Green Paws. Sessions, which also can include owners, are $65 (plus $15 for additional animals) and 10 percent of all proceeds will go to City Dogs Rescue.

Which brings me to our second happening that afternoon, which is another adoption event from our friends at City Dogs Rescue! Last time these fabulous folks came to Green Paws, three dogs found forever homes. We hope to equal or better that record next time. Plus, coming over and playing with pooches is a great way to meet your neighbors!

Which brings me to our THIRD happening on July 14! Our neighbor Bacio Pizzeria is in the process of getting an ice cream freezer (yay!) and we thought this would be a great time to co-launch what we hope will be a regular weekly event: Doggy/People Ice Cream Social Sunday! This part is still in flux, so stay tuned!

And in the meantime, please email greenpawsdc@yahoo or call us at 202-986-6373 to reserve your spot with Houndstooth Photography!


Atilla & Lisa
Owners, Green Paws

Red Hen announced for untenanted 1st & Seaton NW space

Read this post by Washington Post's Tom Sietsema on the currently un-built-out and untenanted street-level space on the northwest corner of 1st & Seaton Place NW.  Note that wine maven Sebastian Zutant is a Bloomingdale resident.
Proof veterans plan to hatch The Red Hen
Posted at 10:23 AM ET, 06/25/2012
By Tom Sietsema
The opening sommelier and executive sous chef at Proof in Penn Quarter are teaming
up to launch an Italian-influenced American restaurant in Washington`s Bloomingdale neighborhood ``early in the new year,`` announced
wine maven Sebastian Zutant.

 He and chef Mike Friedman — along with Mike O`Malley of 9 Group , a casino resort in Las Vegas — will be equal partners in what the trio is calling The Red Hen, a 50-seat dining room
at the intersection of First Street and Seaton Place NW.

Conveniently for Zutant, the location is ``four doors down`` from his townhouse.
Advantageous for all involved, the establishment will be co-designed by Zutant`s
wife, Lauren Winter of Edit, the architectural firm that found fashionable looks for Chez Billy and Rogue 24 , among other District interiors.
The Red Hen is expected to take advantage of its prominent windows, and lean light rather than dark.

None of the principals owns a red hen, by the way. They just liked the ``vibe it gives off,`` explained Zutant; the name ``doesn`t sound too busy or over-the-top.``   The team is leaning Italian on the menu because that`s the style they gravitate to on their own. ``The food is easy, simple and clean,`` said Zutant.

... and Prince of Petworth catches up:

CADC Board of Directors responds to DC Superior Court ruling

Bloomingdale Community,

On June 22, DC Superior Court ruled in favor of Crispus Attucks Development Corporation in its case against Marvin Rich. The court issued a preliminary injunction against Mr. Rich and ordered Mr. Rich and his associates to cease and desist from making any claims whatsoever to anyone regarding Crispus Attucks Development Corporation or the Crispus Attucks Park; and to cease and desist from publishing in any medium, including the Internet, any false statements about Crispus Attucks Development Corporation or its President that place Crispus Attucks Development Corporation, its President, or any of its Members in a false light.

CADC`s case against Mr. Rich is not finished yet, but this preliminary injunction is a giant first step in putting to rest Mr. Rich`s false claims of any involvement with the park and is a positive step toward ending Mr. Rich`s harassment of the neighbors around Crispus Attucks Park. CADC will issue a more complete statement after the final resolution of the court case.

This decision, while entirely expected given the complete lack of evidence to support Mr. Rich`s claims, is fantastic news for the Bloomingdale community.

The Board would like to thank Bloomingdale for its outpouring of support for the park--this event has truly helped to unite the community.  CADC looks forward to working with all members of the community to ensure that Crispus Attucks Park will be a positive and unifying part of the community.

CADC Board of Directors

Sunday, June 24, 2012

DC Superiour Court ruling in Crispus Attucks Park case: "cease and desist" order issued to Lucy Fletcher, Diane Rich & Marvin Rich for one year

Recall this May 2012 Washington Post article on Crispus Attucks Park in Bloomingdale?

A feud over a D.C. park pits one man against his neighbors
By Paul Schwartzman, Published: May 21

The Crispus Attucks Development Corporation (CADC) crafted a response to this Washington Post article, posted at the Bloomingdale Neighborhood blog on May 26, 2012:

Now here is an update -- see this Saturday, June 23, 2012 tweet from ANC 5C03 Commissioner Hugh Youngblood on the Friday, June 22, 2012 DC Superior Court ruling on the Crispus Attucks Development Corporation / Marvin Rich case:

Hugh Youngblood@ANC5C03
DC Superior Court issues prelim injunction for Marvin Rich et al re Crispus Attucks Park and CADC in #BloomingdaleDC |
Here is the ruling document:
And here is the text from the ruling document link above:
The Superior Court For The District of Columbia
Civil Division

Crispus Attucks Development Corporation, et al.,


Marvin Rich, et al.,

Case No. 2012 CA 003370 B
Calendar 5
Judge Peter A. Krauthamer
Next Event: Discovery Requests Due, August 21, 2012


Pursuant to the Court`s findings of fact and conclusions of law as read on the record in open Court today, June 22, 2912, and for the reasons then stated, it is by the Court this 22nd day of June 2012,

ORDERED that Defendants Lucy Fletcher, Diane Rich, and Marvin Rich (``Defendants``) shall for the period of one year from the date of this Order:

Cease and desist from making any claims whatsoever to anyone regarding Crispus Attucks Development Corporation or the Crispus Attucks Park, and

Cease and desist from publishing in any medium including the Internet any false statements and Crispus Attucks Development Corporation or its President that place Crispus Attucks Development Corporation, its President, or any of its Members in a false light.

Peter A. Krauthamer
Associate Judge
(Signed in Chambers)

Copies eServed to:
Tyler Jay King, Esq.
Bernard C. Coleman, Esq.

NYT: "Farewell to Chocolate City" by Bloomingdale resident Natalie Hopkinson

See this New York Times opinion piece by Bloomingdale resident Natalie Hopkinson.

Farewell to Chocolate City
Published: June 23, 2012

``NOW, I`m not proud of what I did,`` my friend Donna said the other day, her voice
dropping to a low, confessional register.

Donna is black, in her late 40s and a graphic designer. Three generations of her
family owned a Victorian row house in Washington until a probate dispute a while
back forced them to rent in the Maryland suburbs. Driving home from work in the
city recently, she took a shortcut through the alley where she frolicked in her
youth, but which she now barely recognized, with its three-story decks and Zen
gardens that led onto sidewalks freshly paved in red brick.

Donna tooted the horn at a parked car blocking her path. The car`s owner, a white
woman, dawdled away in her garden nearby. With a blithe wave, the woman
suggested a detour. Donna refused. She intended to wait her out, but then the
words just tumbled out: ``If you didn`t want to follow the rules, you shouldn`t
have moved your white`` ~ and here she used an expletive ~ ``into D.C.!``

This is the rage, long simmering just beneath the surface, that is bubbling over now
that Washington, the once-majority-black city immortalized in George Clinton`s
1975 funk classic ``Chocolate City,`` has lost its black majority. But even
before the data corroborated (
that demographic milestone last year, Washington`s
makeover had created something of an identity crisis.

Ever since Washington was carved from two slaveholding states in 1791, it has been a
special place for black Americans. Lincoln freed the slaves in Washington about
nine months before the Emancipation Proclamation, prompting blacks from the
region to flock here. It was the birthplace of Duke Ellington and home to other
artists like Zora Neale Hurston and Sterling Allen Brown, who later fueled the
Harlem Renaissance. By 1957, blacks had become the majority of the city`s
residents, exceeding numbers in any major city in the United States. Ever since
Walter E. Washington was appointed mayor by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967, the city
has been led by black politicians and shaped by black institutions. This has
fostered a sense of black privilege, swagger and, yes, the hubris that comes
with leadership.

For the past half-century, the city`s black majority has also yielded a distinct
culture. But in the midst of gentrification that is now fading fast. Last
month, hundreds of mourners streamed into the Howard Theater to say goodbye to
the late guitarist Chuck Brown, the godfather of go-go music, perhaps the city`s
only indigenous art form. The music that Mr. Brown created was once ubiquitous
here, but most newcomers today have never heard it.

The political landscape is changing, too: recent federal investigations have led to
the downfall of several members of the city`s black leadership, from the City
Council chairman, Kwame R. Brown, and the Ward 5 councilman Harry Thomas Jr.,
to two campaign aides for Mayor Vincent C. Gray.

During the decades that Washington had a black majority, national policy makers and
investors left the city`s aging infrastructure for dead. So it is astonishing
to witness the about-face that has accompanied the influx of white
professionals in the past decade. Now there are urban-friendly transportation
policies, lavish corporate spending on education and billions in private real
estate investment and development. As residents finally get the city they have
always deserved, many black Washingtonians are feeling the rage of the loyal
first wife, kicked to the curb as soon as things started looking up.

Move out of the way!

Black privilege has always been relative. The city`s median black household income is
$36,948; for whites it is $99,401. This demographic reality creates a crude,
ethically charged math, and everyone who owns a stake in Washington calculates
with it. The presence of white faces is the most reliable sign of the quality
of a school. The more white people move in, the higher the property values go.
The city`s population is growing, but each black family that leaves a school or
neighborhood makes it richer.

IT was Donna who was in the way. ``When you hear people say, `the good news is the
neighborhood is being gentrified,` it just makes you feel worthless,`` Donna
told me.

My own initiation in the ways of Chocolate City came nearly 20 years ago when,
after growing up black in nearly all-white environments, I arrived in
Washington as a freshman at historically black Howard University. The Washington
I encountered then was a strange, alternate universe: I saw black schools
taught by black teachers and run by black principals reporting to black
superintendents. Black restaurants. Black hospitals run by black doctors and
staff members. Black suburbs. Black judges ordering black police officers to
deliver black suspects to black jail wardens. And of course a black-owned music
industry, go-go.

In Washington, we were not ``minorities,`` with the whiff of inferiority that
label carries; we were ``normal.`` For the first time in my life, I felt at

Of course, Chocolate Cities aren`t perfect. I do not accept responsibility for Mr.
Thomas, who represented me on the City Council and went to jail for stealing
hundreds of thousands of dollars from youth programs. He does not represent
black people any more than the disgraced Illinois governor Rod R. Blagojevich
represents white people.

But that`s what segregation does. It allows problems like corruption, dysfunction
and poverty that are really historic, social and economic (and just plain old
individual bad behavior) to be cast as a ``black thing.`` Segregated
communities effectively quarantine all the American hurt, all the pain, all the
history, and give it a ``chocolate`` label. Today, as the quality of life
improves, there is a subtext to change, that in order to make progress, black
people must be pushed out of the way. They had it for 50 years!

Some days, walking the streets of Washington, a seemingly colder place where people
don`t always exchange greetings, I feel nostalgic for the days of black
privilege that George Clinton crooned about. But given the warmth of many of my
new neighbors of many races, I would like to see the transformation around me
as racial progress. The change in attitudes that caused a generation of whites
to release their fears and return to the urban centers their parents fled a
generation ago is the same change in attitudes that allowed millions of white
Americans, in the quiet sanctity of the voting booth, to vote for a black man
named Barack Hussein Obama.

Change happens. Where this change ultimately leads I have no idea. As we do move it
along, though, we would all do well to remember: Donna planted flowers, too.

Natalie Hopkinson is the author of ``Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City.`` [also a Bloomingdale resident in Ward 5.]

Bloomingdale resident and ceramic artist & educator Terry deBardelaben

Did you see Bloomingdale resident and ceramic artist Terry deBardelaben outside of Big Bear Cafe this morning with her ceramic artwork?

Here is a (poorly taken!) photo of Terry and her artwork in the shade:

You are invited to visit Terry's website,

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Open Houses scheduled in and around Bloomingdale for 06/24/2012

The Open House list is organized by price. There are very few listings currently available in Bloomingdale, but I always include those that are open in the surrounding neighborhoods, as well. You can get a better idea of location from the map.

**Agents, to have your open houses listed in this weekly post, you must tag them in MRIS by the Friday before the open house. If you have an open house in the immediate area (Bloomingdale, LeDroit Park, Eckington, Shaw, Truxton Circle) that does not show up, please add in the comments below.

"Bloomingdale, here is why I hate you" essay posted to a tree on S St NW

A neighbor passed along this pic of a brief essay on Bloomingdale posted to a tree on the unit block of S Street NW:

dog inside the fence of the McMillan Reservoir at 2nd & Bryant NW

See this Saturday morning, June 23, 2012 message:
While walking her dog a neighbor saw a small (35 lbs) mixed breed dog inside the fenced property of the reservoir at 2nd and Bryant NW. The name on the tag reads "Ginger" but the neighbor couldn't see the phone number. Ginger is reddish-brown and appears to have had puppies at some point. She's very shy. Please contact Heather at if you have information or if she's your dog.

seeking referrals for a good, local tailor

See this request from a 2nd Street NW resident:
I'm looking for a tailor.
First priority is that they're good, second priority that they're local.

Friday, June 22, 2012

New Supper Club in Bloomingdale

See this post about a new supper club from Clementina Russo, the former chef of the Big Bear Cafe.  It is from the food blog, Eat the District.

check it out

Open Door Dining: A Brand New DC Dinner Club

The words “open door” require no explanation; they’re instantly warm, friendly, and inviting, imploring you to drop by at any time and see what’s going on. That’s exactly how Clementina Russo wants you to feel. Clementina is the brains – and everything else – behind Open Door Dining, a new dinner club in DC hosting its first meal this Friday night. The outgoing chef at Big Bear Cafe, Clementina chose the name “as kind of a throwback to my living situation in Maine, where the back door was always open which led into my kitchen. My whole world walked in and out of there all the time, so it was the open door policy. You come in, hang out, you can have dinner.” You should take up her invitation.
Open Door Dining, as with most dinner clubs, operates somewhere in the murky world between popup restaurant and dinner at a friend’s house; there’s no charge per se but a suggested donation, and you only receive details, including the location, after securing your reservation.  Talking to Clementina, though, you get the sense that maybe this land of in-between is perfect for her.  She’s not a classically trained chef and instead has a PhD in physics;  cooking has been a lifelong hobby and side project that largely through circumstance has at times become her primary job.  She didn’t move to DC to work in a kitchen but seized the opportunity to create nearly from scratch Big Bear Cafe’s dinner program.  Moving on from Big Bear, Open Door Dining gives Clementina the chance to keep on feeding people.
Clementina was gracious enough to invite me over for dinner this week, and let’s make this clear: this is absolutely food you want to eat. Clementina cooked pan-seared swordfish topped with a tomato, onion, and parsley salad alongside a heaping mound of Swiss chard, which was cooked down with some garlic, onions, parsley and olive oil. Nothing complicated, nothing too fancy, just simple, fresh, and tasty food.  This is what you can expect at Open Door Dining, as well  – lots of vegetables, a bit of protein, each ingredient singing beautifully on its own.  ”That’s the beauty of any culture that cooks,” Clementina says.  ”You just treat [the ingredients] with respect.”  To that end, she takes care to source everything locally, and the vegetables are vibrant and tasty.  When she makes a salad, “it’s not, like, things in a bag.  It’s things like radicchio, and cabbage, and kale.  It’s shit that’s real, and takes us hours to wash and spin.”  Trust me, it shows.
But Open Door Dining is about more than just food; it’s about a state of mind, about entering a new place and sitting down to eat and feeling both comfortable and energized. This isn’t Clementina’s first go at a dinner club. While a doctoral student in Maine, she hosted the first – and unfortunately, only – meal of a dinner club she called Cask and Calliope: the latter, of course, being Homer’s muse of epic poetry.   In Clementina’s words, it was meant to be “a place where you come and sit and eat really delicious food… and if you just sit with this meal…. and listen to everybody tell a story and listen to yourself have a thought.  We wanted to make a place where you’d have your own muse…then communities get built. And that’s the idea with Open Door.”
Maybe that’s exactly what Washington, DC – a city known for its breakneck pace and populated by big, loud restaurants often aimed at the business lunch crowd – needs more of.  A quiet space with great food, interesting people, and good conversation, a place to relax and unwind and eat and be yourself.  At any moment Clementina might break into an art history lesson, as she did while we sat and talked, or the person on your left might start reciting poetry.  You’ll want to come back; it’s a good thing the door is always open.
To sign up for Open Door Dining’s email list, visit  You can also follow them on Twitter @opendoordining.  To make a reservation, just reply to their email…there are still spots available for Friday!