Archive for the 'Life on RIA' Category


District Clay Open in Woodridge/Langdon Area

District Clay, a self-proclaimed ceramic studio devoted to all aspects of clay craft, has opened their studio in the Langdon/Woodridge area of Ward 5 (I know — more Langdon… but I like to throw them together whenever I can). From their website:

The studio, located in a warehouse dedicated to artisan craft, offers ongoing classes for beginning, intermediate and advanced ceramic students in wheel throwing, hand building and ceramic sculpture.  The studio includes a dedicated gallery where advanced students can display their work for sale.

The driving purpose behind District Clay is to create a clayspace where students can learn the craft of clay while also stretching their creative abilities.  To that end, the studio will offer periodic special Master classes with experienced potters and ceramic artists.  In addition, special kiln firings will highlight the wide range of artistic effects that can be achieved through wood ash and over reduction firings.  Students will also have the opportunity to participate in wood firings through arrangements with local wood kilns.

District Clay’s studio space includes 14 wheels, gas and electric kilns, a slab roller, an extruder, a glaze spray booth, a photo booth,and an extensive library of ceramic literature.

Here is where they are located:



Housing and Health Center Along RIA NE

seniorIsrael Baptist Church, at 1251 Saratoga Ave NE, is planning to develop a 47-unit senior housing and a large health center off of Rhode Island Ave NE through its project development arm, Israel Manor Inc. Although it appears to have been underway for quite some time, the area across from Rhode Island Row along Washington Place NE (behind the Bank of America) has been gated off and prepared for construction of the large senior living facilities. A permit in December from DCRA, lowered the number of potential units from 49 to 47, with “a cellar and four levels”.

Here are some conceptual drawings available online (although it is uncertain whether these are up to date or not):



You can read more on Israel Manor’s narrative of the project by IsraelManorNarrative or check out the slide deck of this development here.

In addition, Israel Manor Inc. has also started the preparation for construction of a 43,000 sq ft community facility to house offices for health services, senior services, education, cultural arts, sports, banquets & meetings, and fitness programs for the elderly and low to middle-income residents. They are expecting it to service more than 52,000 residents. This community facility will be located directly in front of their Israel Baptist Church, a short walk from the Senior living apartments.

You can read more on the community facility by clicking here.


FoRIA Named Main Street Administrators

DCMSlogo20_155Mayor Vincent Gray announced this morning, in front of a crowd gathered at the WACIF offices along Rhode Island Avenue NE, that Rhode Island Avenue has been officially designated a part of the Main Street Program, and that the Friends of Rhode Island Avenue (FoRIA) have been chosen as the administrators of the Program for Rhode Island Avenue NE. Kenyan McDuffie, Ward 5 councilmember, and FoRIA Chair, James Holloway, spoke about what this designation will mean for the Avenue and how much more work we all have as a community to go to get a vibrant and revitalized Avenue that all residents can enjoy. They were also joined by Local Business Development (DSLBD) Director Robert Summers.

As the Insider, I am especially proud to see this organization become such an important fixture in the community given its roots and beginnings with this blog more than two years ago. Congratulations to all of the “Friends” that made it happen along the way!

2014 is going to be an even better year for RIA NE!

DC Main Streets, which is managed by the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD), provides resources for local organizations to leverage private investment through public and private partnerships while revitalizing existing commercial corridors and historic landmarks. The program serves small businesses, which are a driving force for the local economy. See FoRIA’s press release here and posted below.


FoRIA Wins Rhode Island Avenue Main Street Bid

Posted on Dec 18, 2013 in Commercial RIADC CouncilDSLBDFoRIA EventsNewsOffice of the MayorPress,RIA Main Street


DECEMBER 18, 2013—The DC Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) has selected Friends of Rhode Island Avenue NE (FoRIA) to manage the new Rhode Island Avenue Main Street program, effective immediately. Mayor Vincent Gray and Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie made the announcement today at 10 a.m., as part of Mayor Gray’s regular bi-weekly press conference.

Rhode Island Avenue Main Street will be the newest of eight independent, non-profit Main Street programs in the District. The boundaries will run from 4th Street NE to 24th Street NE along Rhode Island Avenue NE, which is also a section of the historic Route 1 corridor, and one of DC’s designated Great Streets.

“We are thrilled to have this opportunity,” said James Holloway, Chair of the FoRIA Board of Directors. “For a long time, the communities that surround Rhode Island Avenue NE have asked for more restaurant and retail options within walking distance of their homes. FoRIA’s goal has always been to work with the community to build the type of vibrant commercial corridor that will not only serve this amazing and diverse community, but will also be an opportunity zone where locally-owned businesses can thrive.”

The DC Main Street program has been in existence since 2002, and provides resources for local organizations to leverage private investment through public and private partnerships while revitalizing existing commercial corridors and historic landmarks. The program serves small businesses, which are a driving force for the local economy. In the last year alone, DC Main Streets programs have created more than 470 new jobs in the District. DC’s program was created through the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and utilizes the National Trust’s Main Street Four-Point Approach® for commercial revitalization.


Broken Windows

broken-window-300x198On December 9, 2013, a local, small business along the 2100 block of Rhode Island Avenue NE was robbed by three unknown suspects. Check out the video by clicking here (and if you recognize anyone, please alert the authorities). Now, robberies occur across the City, and RIA NE isn’t the only business corridor that is affected.  What is pretty unique is the effort that residents have taken upon themselves to reinvigorate and attract new businesses to the Avenue. Part of this attraction is to assist our local businesses and those looking to open up on the Avenue to feel safe.

This past year, a new liquor store (re)opened on the Avenue. There was some community pressure on the owner to not put security glass in place so it wouldn’t look so dangerous to even shop there (similar to what Bloomingdale Wine and Spirits did in the past quite successfully). The owner of the newly reopened store didn’t budge and has the glass in place around the register area. What will it take for businesses (and for that matter, residents) to feel safe enough to remove these security apparatuses from their stores and make them more approachable and neighborhood-friendly? More police patrols? It’s a hard answer but the Avenue could use a more focused, and on-the-ground police presence in the community than we have already seen.

Now this isn’t to say that RIA is unsafe. We have our issues like any other neighborhood in the City (less than some areas, actually). It is understood that businesses are still going to be robbed no matter what we do but if we are going to succeed as a community that wants our Avenue to thrive, we need everyone (police, community groups, businesses, and residents) to be part of the solution. Community policing and more businesses on the Avenue are a good way to create an unwelcoming environment for criminals (think of the broken window theory). The more we allow graffiti, vandalism, and even littering to occur along the Avenue, the more escalation to more, more violent crimes will occur like this robbery at the 7-11 along RIA NE.

Here are some crime stats for the past year for RIA NE:

Our area has seen an increase of 47% in theft (1% citywide during the same time frame), and an increase of 10% in Robberies without a Gun since 2012 (1% drop citywide in the same time period).

So do yourself and your community a favor: report anything you see that is wrong, even the smallest infractions. Help clean up the Avenue. Attend community meetings (PSA, ANC, etc). Don’t let a culture of knowing anyone can get away with something persist. Report graffiti to the City so it can be removed. Ask that businesses clean up their trash around them. Report on abandoned buildings. Just don’t ignore it.



Jersey Mike’s Grand Opening

logoJersey Mike’s, the sub shop that prides itself on providing “not just a sub, but an experience”, will have its grand opening on December 4th at Rhode Island Row (see here for the Insider’s story on this shop). This will be Jersey Mike’s first DC location. See the full press release below:

Ambitious Franchisee Brings Jersey Mike’s to D.C. for First Time

 On December 4th, Jersey Shore style sub shop Jersey Mike’s will open its first location in the District at Rhode Island Row.

 Jersey Mike’s prides itself on providing “not just a sub, but an experience.” Franchise owner Sean Schoonover trained at the original store to deliver the most authentic Jersey experience possible. Their roast beef is trimmed, tied, and cooked in house to medium rare, while their meats and cheeses (which are always sliced to order) are shipped each day along with their bread from their tried-and-true Jersey distributors.

 Jersey Mike’s is devoted to giving back to the community, and the new location has teamed up with “Powerful Beyond Measure,” a non-profit organization that focuses on youth development in low-income families. From December 4-8, the store will give away a free sub to customers who donate a dollar or more to PBM with a coupon (30,000 of which will be distributed to the neighborhood during launch week, and which will also be available at

 A person to watch here is Schoonover, the driving force behind Jersey Mike’s expansion into D.C. Born and raised in College Park, MD, Sean began part timing at Dominos Pizza at 14, and by 19 he was a manager at Dominos with the goal of owning his own restaurant by 25. Sean won Manager of the Year awards in 2006 and 2007, and in 2008 started at Jersey Mike’s, overseeing manager and franchisee training as part of a build out of stores in the DMV market. By April 2012 had rounded up the money to become a Jersey Mike’s franchisee himself. True to his word, he was just 25.  

Next, Sean will help get the DMV market built out to 140 stores (there are currently 19) and is currently looking for his next site in the District.


Lace’s Liquor License Is Up for Review

laceLace DC, the bar with an identity crisis, located at 2214 RIA NE, will have an ABRA hearing to review the renewal of its Class C Tavern liquor license on December 16, 2013. Petitions/letters of opposition or support must be filed on or before December 2. Back in August, Lace was listed for sale, and with a realty lock box still on the property, we’ll have to assume that it is still for sale.

The ABRA hearing will take place at 10:00AM on Dec 16, at 2000 14th Street NW, 4th Floor.


RIA’s (Not So) Secret Deli

When you first approach the sandwich shop, you wonder if this could possibly be the place that you have heard everyone rave about. It’s small. It has rusted security grates next to the windows and the window decal says “Subbs”. Why the extra “b”? The window also says “The Best Subs in Town”, so you dare to enter. As soon as you walk in, there’s always several customers already there, either waiting, looking at the menu on the wall, or ordering. A guy with a fisherman’s cap and a grey beard, wearing a waist apron, acknowledges you from behind the counter. He’s ready to take your order. I order a #1 and he scribbles it down on the pad of blank white paper and asks if I want hot peppers. Of course. He asks for my name, and then gives the order to the sandwich makers behind him.

I wasn’t asked if I wanted anything to go along with my sub. There isn’t anything else. That’s what Carl’s Subs is all about. Just cold-cut deli sandwiches. And they do them really, really well. If you want chips or a bottled drink, you can grab that as you pay (they only accept cash). The shop consists of a counter to order and another behind the front counter where they make the sandwiches. No frills but a damn good sandwich. The menu has around 20 different kinds of subs and all of them are around $7. The place has no website, no facebook account, no twitter account. Heck, they don’t even have flyers or marketing but they do have a loyal following and word of mouth has kept this place afloat for years. Don’t take my word for it, here are some Yelp reviews:

let me tell you that Carl’s is the real deal when it comes to hero/sub sandwiches.  The best deli sandwich in DC. Believe it.

Carl’s Sub Shop is one of DC’s hidden Treasures. From the outside no one would dare enter this place. But from the moment you enter you feel @ home. Carl himself usually greets you as you enter with “welcome home, what will you have today”.

ALL of the subs are worth @least one try. But be warned you will be back. Carl’s is all about freshness and quality. He cuts his own meats and cheeses fresh daily and the bread and veggies are also delivered daily.

Those that live around Carl’s know how good it is, and so does others throughout the City. People flock to the place from all over. Fire trucks pull up during lunch time to pick up an order for their firehouse. Utility workers, police, and folks in suits and ties all line up during lunch for a sub.

Give it a try, you will NOT be disappointed. We try to keep this neighborhood gem as a sort of “our secret” but after eating there, you can’t help but sing its praises.

Address: 2208 Rhode Island Ave NE
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9am – 4:55pm

Take out only.

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