Tuesday, February 28, 2012

WP: Changes at Watershed

The Washington Post reports that Chef/Owner Todd Gray is going to turn over the daily responsibilities of running the restaurant to the Dallas based Culinaire company. The menus at Todd Gray's Watershed (1225  1st Street NE) will still come from Gray, but Culinaire brings something very practical to the table. It's big enough to buy both ingredients, and services, in bulk. According the the Post story, that already represents a 35% cost savings for Watershed. That's huge in an industry that already operates on very thin margins.


Chris said...

I thought one of the points of Watershed was that the ingredients were small-source/high-quality. Saving money by buying in bulk seems a very different proposition, and suggests a real downgrade. Or am I wrong about that?

Jordan said...

For all those who would like to help protest the liquor license for Xclusive, use the info below:

URGENT Update and Call to Action - Xclusive Hearing scheduled for March 28!

Dear Neighbor,

First, thank you so much for joining more than 65 concerned residents who signed the petition protesting the liquor license application by Xclusive, a proposed live music venue with hours extending until 3AM at 707 H St NE. I wanted to give you a quick update on where things stand and ask you to help us one more time to ensure our concerns are addressed.

We submitted a protest and were granted standing by ABRA in January. We engaged in a mediation session on January 31 and a protest status hearing on February 1, both at ABRA. Two things became clear in those proceedings:

Xclusive is envisioned as a live music venue, with bands, DJs and bars serving drinks on three levels, hours that extend until until 3AM, private parties, promoted events, a daily cover charge and an outdoor "smoking" area. All of these will serve to create noise that will keep us from getting our sleep, generate crowds, parking and litter problems that will disturb the "peace and order" of our residential neighborhood. In short, the plans for Xclusive are entirely out of character with the neighborhood and would cause serious problems without an agreement to address our concerns.

The applicant has no interest in entering into a voluntary agreement of the kind neighbors recently reached with Po Boys Kitchen, which started out applying for a license with many of the same issues. In the ANC agreement with Po Boys, the owner agreed to withdraw their request for live music, restrict the hours of operation and take other steps to mitigate the impact on the neighborhood. The applicant for Xclusive has declined to consider any of the standard language that is the basis for every other voluntary agreement in our ANC single member district.

The bottom line is that we are now headed to a full protest hearing before the ABRA Board on March 28 and 1:30pm (details below) and we need your support to make a strong case that this application should be denied unless and until the applicant is willing to enter into the voluntary agreement we have been seeking since we launched this protest in December. In order to make this effort a success, please take as many of the following actions as you can:

1. Send an email to Georgina Ardalan ( and Seth Johnson ( detailing your personal concerns about the license and asking ABRA to deny the license application, we will present these emails to the Board at the hearing.

2. Email or call Tommy Wells ( or 202-724-8072) to express those same concerns and ask our representative on the City Council to weigh in with ABRA to urge them to deny the application for Xclusive.

3. Join us at the hearing before the Board on Wednesday, March 28, at 1:30pm at the Reeves Center, 2000 14TH ST NW, Suite 400S to show your support.

Thank you so much for your hard work to ensure that our neighborhood grows in a healthy and positive way!

All the best,
Seth and Georgina

Anonymous said...

mmm that's some good thinly veiled racism...

Jordan said...

mmmmm you are one asinine troll...

H Street Landlord said...

I am about to contact Mr. Wells in support of their liquor license. Why should there not be entertainment establishments on H? Ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

yeah, good luck with your protest. sounds like you'd be better off living in georgetown, jordan. you can't control everything that happens on h street. will you protest everything that is "out of character with the neighborhood"? or anything that is out of character with the neighborhood of your dreams. give up and let go.

Chris said...

jordan: to make sure I understand your post above, Xclusive was offered a boilerplate voluntary agreement from ANC-6C's ABL Committee, and rejected it? Is there someplace where one can see the boilerplate VA, and a list of the establishments in the ANC that operate under it? That sort of thing is available on ANC-6A's website; but I don't find it on ANC-6C's.


H Street Landlord said...

Live music at PoBoys? The horror! I can't believe ya'll killed that.

When did you move to the neighborhood, what did you expect, and what businesses can you point to in those blocks (nice, new businesses such as these that are investing significant monies) that have caused these problems you speak of?

Anonymous said...

while we're at it, let's shut down rock n roll hotel please. seems like the same business model.

Anonymous said...

@anon 5:33: Wow, that's some really great illogical ad hominem there. Well done!

Anonymous said...

@5:34:00 PM

Not sure but might be the same as the attachment to boundary road ABRA order

H Street Landlord said...

I just emailed Mr. Wells in favor of minimal, if any, restrictions for Xclusive. I also bemoaned the restrictions at PoBoys. I cced the misguided folks who wrote that letter. If ya'll don't want these silly restrictions email Tommy Wells!

This is what I sent:

Dear Councilmember Wells,

I am a homeowner in close proximity to the proposed Xclusive restaurant/night club. I am writing to offer my support for their liquor license application with minimal, if any, restrictions. Per a review of the owner's previous venue, it will likely be a well-run and managed establishment. Furthermore, the location is extremely appropriate, as entertainment venues should be focused on H Street NE.

I was saddened to hear the voluntary agreement with PoBoys precludes live music and necessitates shorter opening hours. I disagree with this - you (I think), as I do, prefer more eyes on the streets and patrons for our business.

Again, please do not think these individuals represent a majority of homeowners near the proposed establishment. I want H to thrive and trust that the management will do a good job. I have yet to hear a single complaint about HR57 and cannot think of a reason this establishment would produce one.


Anonymous said...

Here here

Anonymous said...

h st landlord: pretty much every single establishment on h street with a liquor license operates under a voluntary agreement with their ANC. what is it about xclusive that, to you, is different from all the other establishments on h?

H Street Landlord said...

@ Anon - 1) pick a handle.

2) I don't think they are different at all. I am 100% fine with them having the same operating hours and being able to have live music or djs like Rock and Roll Hotel, Little Miss Whiskeys or any other bar on H Street. Why are you not fine with that and want to restrict them? I only responded because those folks are specifically advocating against this.

a handle said...

h street landlord: where did i say i _wasn't_ fine with that? i'm trying to understand what has you so upset. you seem prone to building and attacking logical strawmen, such as your post of 5:32pm when you said "why should there not be entertainment establishments on h?" who in the world said there shouldn't?

you compare xclusive to rock and roll hotel; but rock and roll hotel (like pretty much everyplace else on h) _does_ have a voluntary agreement with its anc, which restricts its activities beyond the basic restrictions of its liquor license.

we don't know the details of the voluntary agreement that anc-6c proposed to xclusive. all we know is from the letter that was posted here, which suggests restrictions of 'no live music' and 'hours restricted from the maximum allowed by the license.' the first one -- no live music -- seems harsh to me. but the second -- not operating to the latest allowed by the license -- is pretty common in voluntary agreements, as i understand it.

a few other things:

1. xclusive will be located in anc-6c. the other places you compared to, such as r&r hotel, little miss whiskeys, etc., are all in anc-6a. so if you want to make an argument of consistency/fairness, xclusive shouldn't be compared to the places in the 1100-1400 blocks of h: that's a different anc that uses different criteria in the voluntary agreements they pursue. instead, the comparison should be to voluntary agreements proposed to places like the departed toyland or the never-arrived studio 400.

2. it would be helpful to have someone from anc-6c comment about whether i'm correct here, but . . .i wouldn't be surprised if part of the difference between what anc-6c and anc-6a want to see in voluntary agreements comes from the h street overlay. under the h street overlay, the bars and restaurants are supposed to be where most of them are: up in the 1100-1400 blocks. in contrast, the middle section of h, where xclusive will be located, was intended under the overlay to be fostered as a commercial (office/retail) stretch, while the westernmost section of h was to aim for primarily residential uses. given that anc-6c includes the westernmost and most of the middle portions of h, it's not too surprising that their standard voluntary agreement would be more restrictive than the one anc-6a tends to use on the part of h where the district intended the bars and restaurants to go.

i don't know that i'll ever have strong opinions about this particular case, since i live on the eastern end of h in anc-6a, rather than in anc-6c or close to where xclusive will sit. but even if i did live in 6c, it'd be hard for me to say whether i agree or disagree with the voluntary agreement the anc proposed to xclusive, since _i haven't seen it_. but unless one has, and one also knows the degree to which both sides were willing to negotiate/compromise, it seems absurd to go berserk about this. why go berserk when one doesn't know what's going on in detail? i mean, i know this is the internet and all; but still, life's too short.

Anonymous said...

Why should anyone be surprised at the H Street landlord stance? Land lords want to make money, money, money. He really doesn't care about your sleeping child or parking space, unless he is collecting rent for it.

Anonymous said...

whenever I read h street landlord's posts I cant get this image out of my head:

Jordan said...

H Street Great Street has more on this....

my what a nice handle you have said...

@ a handle--very well stated. I don't really know what to think here plus I live closer to the Atlas Theater so this isn't my ANC either. But I am in total agreement with you over the issue of voluntary agreements. They are standard operation procedure for the most part and as you say, our western stretch of H in the overlay was intended to be the arts and farts and crafts scene. In any case, I too would like more info on the substance of this agreement. But I am shocked, shocked to see people bringing race into the discussion at the drop of a hat. I must be new here?

my what a nice handle you have said...

Oops, I mean Eastern end. Yikes. Seems I don't even know where I live?

Anonymous said...

Stop bringing up the H Street Overlay. It is/was a smoke screen to get people to not fight zoning changes (for higher density building) but it did not curtail existing zoning code (ie rezoning West End of H Street commercial to residential).

Poos poo said...


But then, every neighborhood needs it's ghetto joint. This, ladies and gentlemen, is vying for the top three on H Street.

It'll be fun to watch it's demise, after the fights, stabbings, drug deals.....

Oh, you say, this place will be different! The folks that open up these kinds of joints don't know the meaning of "different.".

These folks just want to maintain the status quo from 1968. Like those fat, old cheerleaders that open up "cheerleading" camps in the middle of downtown... Total joke.

Not to worry though, they will be our of business in no time.

1984 is calling, they want their ghetto, uneducated, crime ridden, drug laden venues back.

Or I'll call those silly screwballs that espouse Islam and yell at people on 8th to hang out in front of your place to bitch about drugs and loose morals.

God forbid that group would be comprised of white people or Asians or Latinos.

Enter into a voluntary agreement, or plan on packing up. Soon.

See ya in the growing anacostia market!

Basil F. said...

And don't mention the war either... I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it alright.

HStRes said...

I'll start off by saying that I really hate the idea of Xclusive. It sounds like it won't be an asset to the neighborhood, and I'm guessing it'll cause trouble.

That said, the protest appears to focus on a few items, which really hold no water. Without a valid protest, ABRA will likely (and rightly so) allow the license to proceed.

Here's what the protest seems to come down to:

1) A bar doesn't belong in this area beacause other businesses are primarily "daytime" businesses

2) The bar will create noise for sleeping children

3) The licensee refuses to agree to our voluntary agreement

4) The bar may attract rats

Look, none of these are really valid concerns. #1 is out because the area is zoned to allow the business and what other businesses do has nothing to do with this one. #2 is out because the owner can take steps to enforce or abate the noise, and DC law provides a penalty of arrest for those who create noise after 10pm. #3 is out becuase voluntary agreements are, well, voluntary and ABRA has caught on to thinly-veiled protests by ANCs and "activists" whose concerns really don't exist. #4 is out because every publich health establishment regulated by DOH must have a contract with an exterminator to abate rodents and other issues.

Like I said, I think this place sounds horrible, but the protest must clearly articulate valid concerns for it to be taken seriously by ABRA. The protestants have not done that in this case, in my opinion.

H Street Landlord said...

@ anon 4:03 - I own property elsewhere and live a block and half from the proposed establishment. So I am directly affected by this.

I still haven't heard a reasonable reason why this place must have a ton of restrictions that Big Board (open to 2am or 3am depending on the night) or any of the other nearby bars I noted have.

And I think it is a shame that PoBoys can't have live music and had their hours restricted. I do need to find the VA to see what the hours exactly are - but I am in favor of more places being open later, for vitality, safety, the subsequent need to hire more employees etc.

I still don't get why someone would move near any block of H thinking entertainment venues wouldn't go in nearby.

Great post HStreet Res

Jordan said...

Club-like promoted events are magnets for shootings/stabbings/drug distribution etc. It is indisputable. If you disagree, you simply do not read local news. Ever. Here is the email I sent to the representatives in this dispute as well as Tommy Wells:

As a homeowner and resident of the H Street area in Northeast DC, I am extremely concerned that an establishment that will host promoted club-like events like Xclusive will draw the wrong kind of crowds to our beloved corridor which we have tried so hard to make a safer place. I personally have hosted crime walks with Tommy Wells and local area law enforecment in this area.

With events like the massacre at Heritage India, the constant violence, noise violations and chaos at Pasha Lounge in Dupont circle, and the countless shootings, brawls and violence in PG county nightclubs I cant see any conceivable reason why anyone would want this kind of place in their neighborhood.

Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans received so many complaints about Pasha Lounge, he was compelled to write the following:

... Evans stated that in his 20 years on the DC Council he “could not recall a licensed ABC establishment in greater need of [his] direct intervention because of its violence, excessive noise, and repeated failure to comply with District law.” Continuing, he wrote, “It is no understatement to say that almost the entirety of complaints that come to my office involving ABC establishments in Dupont Circle involve Marrakesh.” Evans concluded: “I strongly encourage the [ABC] Board to deny this license renewal request.”

And here are some links for those of you who are newer to the area and feel compelled to disagree with the assertions above:

H Street Landlord said...

Wow, just wow. So everything you wrote above about concerns was bs, and its the type of establishment?

People have been getting killed in bars for a thousand years and no one is talking about banning all bars. Furthermore, our nightclubs on H (Little Miss Whiskeys, Rock N Roll Hotel) seem to not have any problems. Why would Xclusive be any different?

Sporto said...

That's a good point inasmuch as there are very few, if any, cultural differences between XII Lounge patrons on the one hand and Rock 'n Roll Hotel patrons on the other. But can let's not divide people here please. And we certainly shouldn't judge anyone or anyplace based on anything at all. I like this sand and I think my head will fit quite snugly here. Good day!

Anonymous said...

I'm holding my judgment on Xclusive until it opens. If it's as bad as people think it will be, it'll go the way of other such clubs - shut down, and give further justification and credence towards fighting such places from opening on H St again.

I remember when people were posting that the re-opening of Oasis Liquor by the NY Ave Metro was going to be the downfall of the entire neighborhood...

So far, the only thing bad about Oasis is that they are terrible about keeping Gentleman Jack in stock.

Anonymous said...

I am one of the people that has neighboring backyards with this establishment and the thought of knowing that they can have loud music until 3 a.m. Makes me sick. I have lived in the neighborhood for a while now and to think that they can come and ignore the concerns of residents that have had their homes for a long time well before they decided to come seems not right at all. As others have said this section of H street was dedicated to day businessess not to clubs that could operate until late hours of the night. As far as the racist comments, sorry but that is just crap used by those that will not be affected by this establishment. I am a minority as well, and believe me I am not dying to have a club of this type even if they will play hip hop, salsa, tap dance or techno. It is about the impact it will have to those that are closest to them. So if you will not be affected by this please mind your own business. If you have to be in your home and listen to the noise every day until 3 a.m. Then we can talk. I applaud the efforts of those neighbors that have put together the petition. Also, the noise issue has been a problem for many other areas of H street so why continue with the path and ignore those residents that have been affected and that have also made of this neighborhood a great place to live. It cannot be all about the making profit of a business there needs to be a balance with those residents that have also help with the improvement of this area.

JoshNE said...

There are too many divisions between people in DC as it is. Maybe if they named the place "Nclusive" I'd be more into it.

HStRes said...

Look, Anonymous at 7:41, your concerns about noise at 3am really don't come into play.

DC's new noise law, effective about a year ago, now provides that no one shall create noise after 10pm that is likely to be heard inside another person's home.

The way the Council wrote the law, there's no fine for this- only arrest. So, in the event Xclusive (or any other bar for that matter) creates noise afer 10pm that you can hear in your house, call the cops.

It's like saying, "I don't want them to be open so many hours because that increases the chance someone will get stabbed." Well, it's already illegal to stab someone, and that's not affected by the operating hours.

Dave B said...

The Xclusive name sounds like it will suck, but after looking at the guy's videos and website from his other place, I'm less concerned.

I dont think this is going to turn into Dream/Love.

I highly doubt that this place will be playing music that can be heard outside and in your home until 3am every day.

A) I dont think it will be that loud
B) I dont think the consumer demand to stay out and party to REALLY loud music late into the night 7 days a week is all that great. Likely not great enough to support staying open AND paying a band. Lots of places claim to have live music and never have it. I dont think there are enough good bands/djs to fill them.

Has Tru Orleans ever had live music or did that get neogtiated away? I know they wanted to at some point.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody have triple pane or interior/exterior stormers that live near H Street noise? Any feedback?

Nick Seetin said...

Anon above (my times are always off of everyone else's so I can't really identify you):

I don't even have triple panes or storm doors, and I live behind the Autozone parking lot on the 1200 block (I live on Linden Place). I have the back bedroom, facing H directly, with only some parking lot pavement in between.

I have an occasional problem with street noise, but not very often. Sometimes the people on the back balcony of Smith Commons are kind of loud, and that might make its way in-- but that is literally 15 yards form my window. I have never heard any music from the Red Palace, or any non-live music from the other places around leaking in.

I think the fears of music-generated noise are very exaggerated. The noise that makes it way outside will be much less disruptive than the noise already created by drunks in the street. Often this noise is not associated with the clientele of the businesses, from what I can tell by looking out my window.
I think

Nick Seetin said...

Sorry about the extra "I think." Not sure how that got in there.

Anonymous said...

This the most threadjacked thread on FT in a while. Fun.