Hotel/Airbnb Disrupter Sonder Expands Operation off Lower Barracks Row
by Larry Janezich
Posted May 5, 2021
Murillo/Malnati Development Group is changing the use of what was to be a 49 unit apartment building overlooking Virginia Avenue Park at 818 Potomac Avenue, SE, to what will functionally be self-service hotel. In its new incarnation, the building will be managed by the billion dollar disruptive hospitality startup Sonder, and the 49 units will join 32 short term rental units in an adjacent building at 816 Potomac Avenue also owned by Murillo/Malnati and already being operated by Sonder.
The change comes as a matter of right, but the developer has to come back to the city via ANC6B because they need a special exception for not having required loading. Although scheduled for next week’s meeting, 6B’s consideration was postponed until June, when the Zoning Adjustment Application will come before the BZA.
Sonder is a short term hospitality company that operates like a combination Airbnb and hotel. The company offers apartments like an Airbnb but in buildings they own or lease which are licensed as hotels. The rentals operate on a self-sufficiency model, but the company claims they offer the best of both of the hospitality worlds they target. Units have ready-to-cook-in kitchens and washers and dryers. So far, Sonder has apartments in 26 cities here and abroad. Sonder also operates The Avenue Flats in Del Ray, Alexandria and The Grace in Old Town, Alexandria.
As to the name: “sonder” is a Portuguese word meaning – among other things, “to probe”. But it probably comes from John Koenig’s forthcoming The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows (Simon & Schuster, November 16, 2021), i.e., “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dictionary_of_Obscure_Sorrows
District Soul Food on Barracks Row Falls Victim to Pandemic
by Larry Janezich
Posted May 3, 2021
District Soul Food is closed. David Roundtree, the restaurant’s chief operation officer, told Capitol Hill Corner this morning, “We’re moving”, adding that details on the move would be forthcoming.
The restaurant opened in February of 2019 bringing “soul food with a French connection” – to Barracks Row. At the time, Roundtree said they were trying to set themselves apart by offering a full service restaurant with live music and a cigar lounge all in one.
The restaurant has struggled during the pandemic and the health and safety restrictions imposed by mayoral order.
The restaurant joins a host of other Capitol Hill restaurants which closed because of the COVID virus, including, Montmartre, 7th Hill Pizza, Aqua al 2, Capitol Lounge, Emilie’s, Wisdom, Finn McCool’s, Tortilla Coast, and Hank’s Oyster Bar.
The “Happiness” Art Show at Frame of Mine Store on Capitol Hill opened Saturday and will run through June 19. The Gallery is located at 545 8th Street, SE. The show is sponsored by the Capitol Hill Art League (CHAL).
Participating artists were asked to explore their art interpretations of “happiness” using any media, including photography. CHAL invites you to visit the gallery when shopping at Frame of Mine as well as viewing it online at the store website at: www.frameofmine.dc – the art may be purchased through the store.
The following artists are featured in the show: Anne Albright, Ken Bachman, Sally Canzoneri, Karen Cohen, Martin DeAlteriis, Elizabeth Eby, Tara Hamilton, Louise Holland, Steve Kunin, Victoria Lakes, Bennett Lowenthal, McCain McMurray, Heidi Nielson, Ann Pickett, Martha Pope, Nan Raphael, Carolyn Rondthaler, Judy Searles, Alexia Stefanovich, Rifat Taher, Karen Van Allen, Elin Whitney–Smith and Karen Zens,
Scissors & Scotch, 331 N Street, NE. Request for ANC6C Support for new liquor license. (From the website: “The Scissors & Scotch experience offers a complimentary cocktail, coffee, or cold one with every haircut, plus a full-service bar and lounge, because we know you’ll be ready for round two.”}
Capitol Fine Wine and Spirits, 415 H St.reet, NE. Renewal of Class A retailer’s license.
Kogod Liquors, 441 New Jersey Avenue, NW. Renewal of Class A retailer’s license and request to terminate the Settlement Agreement.
Courtyard by Marriott Washington, 1325 2nd Street, NE. New retailer’s Class B liquor license. Washington DC
Cru Hemp Lounge, 816 H Street, NE. New retailer’s Class C restaurant liquor license.
Tuesday, May 4
ANC6C Environment, Parks and Events Committee will hold a virtual meeting at 7:00pm.
360 7th St SE: The Eastern Wine Bar. Historic Preservation Application. Concept: add metal pergola structure at sidewalk;
420 11th Street, SE. Historic Preservation Application. Rear addition and change in front façade from stucco to wood siding.
1525 K Street, SE. Zoning Adjustment Application. Special Exception to construct a rear, one-story addition with roof deck, to an existing, three-story, attached, principal dwelling unit.
POSTPONED –818 Potomac Ave SE. Zoning Adjustment Application. Modification of Significance to change the principal use of and add special exception relief for the approved project at 818 Potomac Avenue, SE.
232 10th Street, SE. Historic Preservation Application and Zoning Adjustment Application. Conception Review and Special Exception to construct a three-story with cellar and roof deck, rear addition, to an existing attached, two-story with cellar, principal dwelling unit. [Applicant has requested a delay in BZA Hearing Date to 6/9/2021]
313 9th Street, SE. Historic Preservation Application. Second story addition to existing two-bay garage. [Will be considered only at full meeting on May 11]
POSTPONED – 900 South Carolina Avenue, SE: Historic Preservation Application. Concept: remove awning and bays at front and add two new door openings; add two window wells at west elevation and larger basement areaway at rear; new window openings at rear second story; new openings and cladding at rear one-story addition; new openings at one-story garage. [Case will be considered in June. New HPRB hearing date 6/24/21 or 7/1/21]
POSTPONED – 13 7th St SE; Zoning Adjustment Application. Area Variance to construct a rear addition to an existing, attached, two-story with basement, principal dwelling unit. [Case will be considered in June; BZA Hearing rescheduled for 6/23/21]
Wednesday, May 5
ANC 6C Planning, Zoning, and Economic Development Committee
220 H Street, NE, aka Senate Square. Zoning Adjustment for a modification of consequence to an approved 2005 PUD to allow the required affordable housing units to be rented rather than sold.
CANCELLED: ANC6B Transportation Committee *No Monthly Meeting for May* [The update on traffic signals regarding the Pennsylvania Avenue Streetlights Project will be heard at the Full ANC6B meeting on May 11.]
DC Public Library will hold a virtual Southeast Library Community Meeting at 6:30pm.
Caruso’s Grocery – Italian Restaurant at The Roost – Opens Next Week
by Larry Janezich
Caruso’s Grocery opens this week. The Roost’s Culinary Clubhouse at 14th and Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, has one standalone restaurant – Caruso’s Grocery. It’s modeled on a classic southern Italian red sauce- red banquette-old school type eatery – like AV’s, for those who remember the iconic New York Avenue eatery favored by Members of Congress and neighborhood diners alike.
According to Chef Matt Adler, after a soft opening this weekend for friends and family, the restaurant will open for limited reservations on Wednesday, May 5th, and fully open a week later on May 12th.
The menu is not on their website yet, but it will feature traditional Italian – items including Chicken Parmesan, Shrimp Scampi, Penne alla Vodka, Mozzarella en Corozza, Sole Francaise, Garlic Bread with Four Cheese Sauce.
According to the website description, the beverage program will feature affordably priced Italian wines by the glass, carafe, and bottle, along with a short reserve list – and a selection of Italian-style pilsners and sours sourced from Italy. Vintage cocktails include an Espresso Martini, Limoncellotini, Mulberry St. Cosmo – all featuring house made liqueurs from Show of Hands, the Roost’s separate cocktail bar. Classic espresso rounds out the beverage menu.
Caruso’s chef, Matt Adler, spent most of his career focused on regional Italian cuisine. Adler has worked with top chefs including Alain Ducasse and Michael White. An opportunity to serve as opening chef to Osteria Morini in the Capitol Riverfront in 2013 brought him to DC. Osteria Morini received two and a half stars from both the Washington Post and Washingtonian magazine. Caruso’s was inspired by Adler’s father’s upstate New York restaurant called Scoozi. Adler partnered with Neighborhood Restaurant Group (NRG) on the development of The Roost and Caruso’s Grocery in 2019. Besides the Culinary Clubhouse at The Roost, Michael Babin’s NRG also owns Iron Gate, Hazel, Bluejacket, and Churchkey, The Partisan and several outlets in Virginia, including the Evening Star Cafe, Buzz Bakeshop, Columbia Firehouse, Vermilion, and Rustico.