A look at what's going on in Trinidad, on H Street, and in the larger area north of Capitol Hill.
I'm shocked by Clifford Humphrey's comments. As a business owner, I would think his comments would be more fact based than a knee jerk reaction stinking of racism. Not so sure I feel very welcomed at the Martini Lounge anymore.
That article poses some tough questions. The fewer establishments like Cluck U, the happier I am, but revoking people's already established permits is pretty rough. Perhaps the city could establish some positive incentives to encourage owners of carryouts to transition into sit down locations. One thing that I found glaring in the article was that the options listed seemed to be fine dining or takeout. There is certainly sit down, low-cost, casual dining, which would probably be a perfect fit for H right now.
The problem was ClucK U shouldn't have gotten a permit in the first place.And I agree that Humphrey's comments are not helpful.
This is a sorry excuse for journalism that saddens and angers me.This article should have been about how a lousy job by DCRA has led to a whole lot of unnecessary division, and may slow a needed economic revival. Put the blame where it belongs, and create momentum for a unifying solution.Instead, the Post just feeds us more division.No one likes what is happening with Cluck-U and Birdland.
Looks like Humphrey ate the bait that the Post dangled in front of him as to make their story a more interesting read. The Post loves preying on people who aren't well informed or knowledgeable when looking for someone to quote. You can always count on the uninformed reactors to jam a foot down their throats and that makes for an interesting/entertaining article. C'mon people, give him a break - he's a fireman, not a savey local politician! He doesn't understand how all this works. Unfortunately, his ignorance will cost him dearly. The truth is so boring (i.e., dysfunctional DCRA); now racism, now that's interesting and reels in the readers!
I'm white, and I suppose affluent, live in the neighborhood and I'm in sympathy with the Cluck U owner. It's one thing for a fast food franchise, it's another for a guy selling his own special recipe for ribs and wings. He really could be the next Ben Ali of Ben's Chili Bowl and what's wrong with that? Another example: I went to Oohs and Ahs on U street and loved it. I hope Cluck U is like that, 'cause if it is, I'll be patronizing the place.
Well, I'm a vegetarian, so I can't really speak to the quality of Cluck U, but as I understand it, Cluck U is a fast food franchise (at least I know there are other Cluck Us in DC, and I don't imagine this guy owns them all), so that might temper the feelings of the previous poster.
Where was the outcry when Blimpies closed?
Okay, just checked. Sure enough, there are 32 Cluck Us, including one in Lebanon. Personally, I'm not sure if that makes any difference as far as I'm concerned, but others seem to care.
clifton "$10 martinis" humphries, shame on you for crying racism! way to throw out baseless accusations and alienate many potential patrons, pal.
Anonymous:You and many like you, just don't understand this conflict. It's a zoning issue that the DCRA continuously violates. If the community doesn't see to it that the DCRA does their job, then we have unenforced zoning laws. If you don't have enforced zoning laws, legitimate business owners are reluctant to come to a community because there is no guarentee that a lawful establishment will be your neighboring business. How would you feel if a drycleaners spewing out toxic chemicals set up shop right next door to your house and the stink was wafting into your kitchen? And then if you raised a public debate, a community would label you as hater of of affordable drycleaning. And gee, let's see what color the owner is running this drycleaners because maybe the community can just label you a racist to make the issue much more interesting and then even the most ignorant can weigh in with their uninformed/unresearched opinion. By the way, why is it important to preface your post by clarifying that you're "white and affluent"? What does that have to do with supporting a broken city government agency?
Blimpies? Oh, that was an Indian guy that owned that franchise. The Post, Voice of the Hill, Hill Rag, etc. know that racism against Indians on H Street isn't much of a story so this issue got little press. Many of you are taking the media bait here and ignoring the real issue.
The Fast food zoning regulation was passed in 1985. All citizens are presumed to know the law. That's of course, impossible in this day and age. But it's to business owners advantage to know the law in any case.It happens that last November, when I was doing research on another topic, I came across the Post coverage on this issue from back then:D.C. Zoning Limits Set On Fast-Food EateriesBy Sandra Evans Washington Post Staff Writer; The Washington Post (1974-Current file); Jul 9, 1985; D1; Zoning Commission Votes to Curtail New Fast Food RestaurantsBy Virginia Mansfield and Kenneth Bredemeier Washington Post Staff Writers; The Washington Post (1974-Current file); May 16, 1985; C1; I think that the wrt the offer of Cluck U that letting them be grandfathered might be okay, but grandfathering everything will just help H Street stay squalid.The problem is that there is no way for community organizations and ANCs to at least consult with possible business owners in advance of their opening an establishment, unless for some reason a variance or exception is sought.Something I've suggested for a few years now is that the City should require that in "Main Street" areas-districts targeted for revitalization, that a consultation process should be set up far in advance of when it comes time to grant Certificate of Occupany permits.The problem is that for the most part, businesses and property owners are disconnected from the demands and interests of the residents, or that the organizations aren't too interested in helping new businesses open. Ask Alphonso Morgan, who received no help from HSMS, once Tomika Hughey left the scene...Note that this helps keep the corridor squalid, because absentee ownership of property and suburban-domiciled business proprietors aren't too connected to urban issues and urban neighborhoods.
Ugh. I regularly go to both the Martini Lounge (nice) and Cluck-U (delicious and inexpensive), and I've eaten at Birdland one time (not good). As much as I like the food at Cluck-U, I think what they did was wrong and that the owner/franchisee should be held accountable. If we don't uphold a standard to following the rules on the establishments coming into H Street, we're gonna get a whole bunch of businesses that think they can just run roughshod over the residents and ignore laws, like Family Dollar (trash) and AutoZone (illegal mechanics) currently do. The issue is not race, but community control of development, and how can we intelligently improve our neighborhood in a sustainable way.
Also, I'd like to point out, as has been discussed elsewhere, that the Cluck-U permit issue is not all or nothing. What the ANC is appealing (if I understand correctly) is that Cluck-U was awarded their permit/COA as a "restaurant", with is given as a matter of right, rather than as a "fast food" establishment, which requires hearings and a special exemption process. The ANC is trying to ensure that the applicable rules are observed and applied correctly. Even if the appeal is successful, Cluck-U can still re-apply for its permit as a "fast food" establishment. That process will allow the voice of the community to be heard. If there are objections, the owner could propose ways to address those concerns. Supporters could present their reasons why Cluck-U would be good for the neighborhood. Personally, I've not eaten there, but I've heard that the food is good and the property is clean. That is the way the process is supposed to work. It's only because the DCRA didn't do its job on the front end that the ANC is having to go through this appeals process just to make sure they follow their own rules.
i have a real hard time with the image of a business owner that is black decrying racism by saying, oh here come those strongarmed white people trying to make us obey the law!damn, sure makes the martini lounge owner look a bit foolish.
I am African American and a new transplant to the H street area and am frankly tired of the paper and any posts making this a race issue. It is clearly an issue of socioeconomics. And yes shame on the H street martini lounge guy--not a smart move. I for one would definitely welcome a more diverse mix of establishments in the area. However I do feel for the Cluck U Chicken owner and at initial glance I can see why people would try to paint it as an issue of race. The DCRA is the main one at fault and now the Cluck U owner has to suffer. I like the first posters idea of given incentives to transform fast food places into restaurants. Has that ever been looked into by the city?
Like many of you, I didn't dig on the story too much so I emailed the reporter, gave him my polite 2 cents and invited him to follow up sometime with a more positive story that doesn't create racial strife where none exists. Here's his email link if you are similarly interested.http://projects.washingtonpost.com/staff/email/paul+schwartzman/
Personally I have nothing against Cluck U or other fast food restuarants. I don't really see any point putting restrictions on them.
Well, aside from just generating rubbish, they also employ fewer people in the area, bring in lower tax revenues, and contribute to our nations obesity epidemic.
It’s possible there may be more of these stories on the way. After reading my blog (Quest for Quiet), the Washington Post reporter, Paul Schwartzman, contacted me and visited the corner of H and 8th Streets NE on two cold and windy Saturdays in January (Jan. 14 and Jan. 21). He wanted to hear the amplified noise for himself.While Schwartzman and I never have met in person, I had a sense of his story angle after an email exchange.Read the complete story at http://questforquiet.blogspot.com
Fast food establishments on H street will take a huge hit when H street becomes less of a highway and more of a street. The way it is now people just double park to go to the fast food restaurants. That will be hard to get away with once the street car is there.
As an affluent black professional in with several residential propertie in the area, race/class is going to be an issue when there is any change. I think we need to start to discuss, debate and actively listen each to bridge issues of race. Instead of both black, white, and now hispanic peolple simply shutting down and running back to their corners of the world where thy feel comfortable to say race is not an issue. All the shame you comments about humphrie are also knee jerk. Saying shame on you does not open up healthy conversations between all the stakeholders.Can't we all get along.
I have to agree with the above writer. If race really isn't the issue, then why all of the chest thumping?Why no talk of boycotting the Post, rather than Martina Lounge? By the way, the person who liked Oooh and Ahhs should try Birdland. I think that you will be very happy.
Saying Shame on Humphries isn't discouraging dialogue, but it does not seem like his comments were the best business move. I have seen several comments of people who now say they won't support his business since that quote. That would be bad because his establishment is a positive on H street.
sorry I meant to say Humphries comments were "not" the best business move...
A long blog posting...sorry.When the ANC filed an appeal of Cluck-U-Chicken, we realized that the appeal process is not the preferred way to enforce the zoning code. The real challenge with the existing code is that there are no physical characteristics that you can see (aside from drive through) on the building plans to make the initial determination on this issue. So, Commissioner Rice, and his committee of resident volunteers, took up the challenge to propose an alternative to the existing zoning text. This alternative also lists the general characteristics of a restaurant -- note these are not criteria (ala a requirement). These restaurant characteristics convey what a restraint would generally look like. The challenge of the current code is that it is very technical and not very descriptive. I believe this proposal accomplishes both objectives. First, it gives DCRA permit clerks “physical” attributes to review construction plans. Second, it provides business investors clear guidance on what a restaurant is under the code.We will be considering this recommendation at our next ANC meeting on April 13 at 7:00pm at Miner Elementary. The committee’s recommendation is to have the ANC adopt the proposed text amendment and submit it to the Zoning Commission as an emergency text amendment.ANC 6A Economic Development and Zoning Committee Proposed DefinitionsRestaurant –(a) General definition. A “restaurant” is place of business that prepares and serves food or beverages on nondisposable plates and containers with nondisposable eating utensils to seated customers. A restaurant is designed and operated so that its customers consume the food or beverages while seated at tables or counters on the premises. A restaurant shall include but not be limited to an establishment known as a café, lunch counter, or other similar business. A restaurant may provide carryout service as an accessory use without being deemed a fast food restaurant only if its carryout facilities are clearly subordinate to its primary use as a restaurant. A restaurant shall not include a fast food restaurant.(b) Characteristics. A restaurant will generally have the following characteristics:(1) A restaurant employee serves food and beverage items at the same table or counter at which customers order and consume said items;(2) The establishment provides an individual printed menu to each customer;(3) The establishment does not provide trash receptacles in or around seating or queuing areas for disposal of trash by customers; and(4) The establishment requires payment only after consumption.(c) Exceptions. Notwithstanding other provisions of this definition, a restaurant shall include a cafeteria where food or beverages for consumption on premises are served exclusively on nondisposable plates and containers with nondisposable eating utensils and any carryout facilities are clearly subordinate to its primary use as a restaurant.Restaurant, fast food –(a) General definition. A “fast food restaurant” is a place of business devoted to the preparation and retail sale of ready-to-consume or quickly-prepared food or beverages for consumption on or off the premises.(b) Characteristics. An establishment shall be a fast food restaurant if it has any one or more of the following characteristics:(1) Customer orders are taken from a service window or a walk-up service counter that lacks fixed customer seating;(2) It offers customers food or beverages on one or more printed signs, placards, posters, or boards that are permanently affixed in conspicuous places in the building;(3) It provides one or more trash receptacles within the building for customers to deposit the disposable packaging in which the establishment provides its food or beverages;(4) It has a drive-through;(5) It requires payment prior to the consumption of food or beverages;(6) It customarily serves its food or beverages in disposable containers and provides disposable tableware; and/or(7) Facilities for carryout service are not clearly subordinate to facilities for on premises consumption.(c) Exclusions. A fast food restaurant shall not include:(1) any establishment that sells food or beverages either only as an accessory use or only for preparation and consumption off the premises, such as a retail grocery store, convenience store or delicatessen.(2) a coffee shop or ice cream parlor, but only if any other use is clearly subordinate to this primary use.Delicatessen – a place of business devoted to the retail sale of meats, cheeses, and other food items by weight for off-premises preparation and consumption. A delicatessen may also sell food or beverages for consumption on or off the premises as an accessory use. A delicatessen is not a restaurant or a fast food restaurant.Coffee Shop – a place of business devoted to the retail sale of coffee, tea, and other nonalcoholic beverages for consumption on or off the premises, which may also include the sale of a limited number of food items as an accessory use. A coffee shop is not a restaurant or a fast food restaurant.
Dear Mr. Humphries (I hope you read this),As a patron of your lounge a number of times, I was very disappointed when I read your quote in this morning’s Post article, “Whose H Street Is It, Anyway?” My partner and I, who are white, have just purchased a house in the neighborhood of your establishment. We have been very excited about all the changes taking place along the H St. Corridor and have tried to support the new businesses in the area: Phish Tea, R&B Coffee House, WillPower Gym, and The Martini Lounge. You were quoted as saying, "They're trying to steer what comes down here. They want an upscale environment, where they are comfortable around their own." I am unsure of who “they” are, but I am assuming you are referring to white folks, like me, that are coming into the area? If so, yes, I want a nice environment where I feel safe (though being “upscale” is not necessarily a requirement) and yes, I wanted to be comfortable around my own (others who enjoyed a good martini and good music). And I thought as a new business owner, these would be things you too would want for your cutomers – However, it seems that you are basically saying you do not want an “upscale environment” and you do not want customers to feel “comfortable”. If this is correct and you do not want these things for your customers, then I will gladly find a nice establishment where I am welcomed and comfortable. Its unfortunate that yours doesn’t seem to be that place for me anymore – and that’s too bad, your bartenders made a mean Almond Joy Martini. Maybe, just maybe, I will soon learn that you were misquoted and misrepresented by The Post. I hope this is true because I can't imagine that a new business owner would say something so irresponsible. Best wishes to you Mr. Humphries - and your Martini Lounge.
All, I spoke to Mr. Humprey, who said that he was misquoted, and called the writer of the Washington Post personally to find out why he was quoted this way. The writer told him he wrote the article and it was submitted to be "edited". Sometimes tones are exaggerated and words are used to tell (or sell) a story. Knowing him, I TRUELY believe this article took his words and turned it around
All, I spoke with people at the H St Martini Lounge who said that Mr. Humphreys was misquoted, and called the writer of the Washington Post personally to find out why he was quoted this way. The writer told him he wrote the article and it was submitted to be "edited". Sometimes tones are exaggerated and words are used to tell (or sell) a story. Knowing him, I TRUELY believe this article took his words and turned it around
Hello to my loyal customers, this is Clifton Humphries owner of The H Street Martin Lounge responding to the Washington Post article printed on March 4, 2006. The reporter miss quoted me in the article. We all should know by now that you can not believe everything written in the news paper. The comment printed was not my exact words. For starters I did not know who was on the ANC board in 2002. Secondly, I want everyone to be safe and comfortable in and around the H Street corridor. My number one mission is to create and maintain a clean, safe, and relaxing atmosphere for all to enjoy not too create tension among my friends, customers, nor my neighbors. I built the lounge based on what the neighbors said they wanted. I would not think about shattering my dreams to own and operate in my neighborhood. This reporter was looking for an opportunity to input a negative tone on the Cluck U appeal process and I guess I was the chosen one. It is a pleasure to serve everyone and I look forward in seeing you soon.
Again, I did not like the story or the quotes attributed to Mr. Humphries. However, I'll give credit where it is due. Mr. Humphries took an important step in addressing our concerns on this blog. Whether he was misquoted or baited doesn't matter to me now. He explained himself. I've got no beef with him and will continue to knock back dirty martinis at the Lounge. Again, if you think the author decided to write an inflamatory story and then cherry-picked the facts to fit his story, let him know. Give blame where blame is due. Link the the Post article and then click on the reporter's name to email him.
So what was the accurate quote? That statement is pretty hard to screw up for a journalist, unless some sentences were dropped. I don't feel like there's a lot of substance in the clarification...
I agree, this is a major misquote. If I were Mr. Humphries, I would demand a correction or retraction. That being said, I don't trust the com-Post in this matter. Wasn't the appeal yesterday? Did I miss the com-Post's follow up story on the appeal in today's paper? (no joke, maybe I did) Or was this simply an avenue to write a negative piece and the Post has no actual interest in reporting on the fast-food dust up?
I was excited when the H Street Martini lounge opened, but was let down on my first visit by the expensive and poorly mixed drinks, and appetizers that were both pricey and terrible (and, not prepared on the premises, according to our waiter). I have kept my mouth shut about this because I wanted to see an entrepreneur succeed (as I am one too), and thought things would get better as he learned more about the business. I hate to break it to Mr. Humphrey's, but if it weren't for the increasing SES of the neighborhood, his establishment would have little chance of succeeding.
Hmmm. A misquote is omitting something like "not" from an affirmation. Like writing "I am opposed to changes here" vs "I am NOT opposed to changes here". I fail to understand how the reporter could have so seriously misquoted Mr Humphrey's comments. Sure, the reporter played up an angle that was in the Post's best interest to sell papers. I totally disagree with that. But I'm not going to think that Mr Humphrey's actually meant the opposite of what he said.I've been misquoted before but it was usually a small thing. Mr Humphrey's attributed statements are so clear and sweeping that I fail to understand how a Post reporter could have gotten the substance wrong.
Obviously, I have no idea what was actually said by Mr. Humphries. But, based on my dealing with all kinds of reporters, I can see how you could take two unrelated quotes, one describing people around H Street and one talking about SES pressures and add some out of context stuff about the ANC in 2002 and come up with what was in the story. When I talk to reporters, sometimes for hours over several interviews, there's no way I can tell you what any single quote was supposed to be, and I don't expect Mr. Humphries to be able to either. FWIW, to perhaps add some credibility, the Martini Lounge isn't really my kind of place so I've got no stake in it.I just think that it is important to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I've gone through extensive official training and hard-knocks training to learn how to carefully talk to reporters and I get misquoted and mis-contexted, even after I ask the reporter to call and fact check all quotes with me before print. Sometimes, it is the editor's fault. Sometimes my quote is right but the context is all strange. You never know. There are lots of reasons to get upset at people. No need to make this little facet of the piece on of them.
There are many be people concerned about the quotes in the Post article including myself. I do not want to appear to “dance” around the comments, but just like those who read it, I am not clear how this zoning issue became a racial issue. Those are my words, but only bits of phrases that did not explain (or express) my answers, or the tone and context. This is why I feel I was misquoted. However, I can tell you how the quotes may have came about. During the impromptu conversation I had with the reporter while visiting Cluck U Chicken, I was asked if I thought Cluck U appeal was racially motivated, and my answer was no, but it may appear that way since majority of the ANC is white, and the targeted businesses in question are owned by African Americans (i.e., Cluck U, Birdland, and Taste of Jamaica). The ANC is trying to make sure DCRA does not give Cluck U any special privileges. However, since Cluck U is already in operation, I do not want to see them shut down. My statements were to answer a question regarding the appeal, and certainly not to imply or promote racism on H Street or with the ANC.The next quotes were taking from questions that I was answered regarding Martini Lounge (not Zoning or Cluck U). I gave the same response as I did in the Hill Rag. From what I heard in the ANC meetings when I was applying for a license, people in the neighborhood want to see more upscale establishments, and want to feel comfortable in the places they patronize. I am included in that sentiment. I promote a mature and diversed atmosphere at the Lounge. The article sets a tone that is completely opposite everything that I have been working towards. I also respect and give thanks to all those who patronize and support me, which have been people of all races, ages, and gender. The context that my words appeared in the article offends most people, including myself. I have spoke with Mr. Schwartzman this morning, and since he had an emergency we will discuss the article in detail tomorrow.
Inked - I'm curious, as this thread seems to have taken off, what's prompted the longest comments thread on Frozen Tropics?
Kerry,I think this is the longest thread I've seen so far.
Yikes. It sounds like Mr. Schwartzman did some creative cut-and-paste. Shame on the Post.There was no mention of DCRA's primary role in creating this mess by continuing to issue operating permits to fast food restaurants despite the requirement for public hearings on each.Nor did Schwartzman mention that Mr. Humphries, unlike Cluck-U's owners, agreed to binding and enforceable operating conditions with residents prior to opening.
It shows a lot of consideration for Mr. Humphries to have addressed our concerns and I commend him for that--after reading so many of the other threads about the Post writer, it seems pretty clear that his purpose was to promote division. I think after all of this, as H street residents/near H street residents that we promote a united front. It is still important to support local businesses including the H Street Martini Lounge.
Hey inked, somewhere along the lines of this disucssion there was mention of this being the longest thread on frozen tropics. I just wondered if you knew this blog was quoted in Wednesday's Express under the 'Blog Log' section (and right next to a frightening picture of Katie Couric)?
I did not know. What was the quote? I ride the bus & they don't put the Express out by my stop, so I rarely see it. Someone at work did show me a copy last fall when Frozen Tropics made the blog log.
The Express chose the following title: "A welcome mat on H St. NE"for the following quote:'...as a business owner, I would think his comments would be fact based than a knee-jerk reaction stinking of racism'they then referenced your blog and the context of the quote.I have a copy & live right off of H street if you want it...
Stevie Wonder can see there is a racial divide in the greater H St community, just as in every gentrifying community in America. Call it socio-economic or whatever. It's perpetuated by postings on listservs and blogs. The Post article exposed it, now everyone is running for cover.Too bad, Humphries had to sell out to Layman's, Robey's and Englert's antics, all of whom, would love to have your business. The man apoligized publicly and still that's not enough for some people. What could possibly make anyone think that anything other than racism is at issue here. Be careful of the machine that operates around you. Someday, that article will read like sweet music.
Yes Mr. Humphries apologized and I think if you are really interested in promoting unity, you will let this go and move on--it is important to support him as well as the other up and coming businesses on H street.
Whose promoting unity? Not me, it's unrealistic. I have lived, been educated, worked, and played in this city for a couple of decades. I haven't seen a racially and socio-economic diverse united community that's united yet. It's probably more realistic to use the term "tolerant".Now, all of a sudden, there's a call for unity on H St (mostly coming from the white community).... Where was this call in 1968 or the resulting 30+ years of disinvestment...Bottom line.. things change when certain people move into the neighborhood. So, how do you expect someone to feel that's been here through the blood, sweat, and tears. We will not give up H Street without a fight( not physical, but intellectual), because in many of these neighborhoods that are predominately black, a heavy price was paid to even get here.
At least we know if nothing else we do have a diversity of levels of intelligence in our neighborhood. The intelligent woman that gives us this wonderful forum and the ignoramus that made the last post are evidence of that.Read your history. What do you think sparked 30 years of divestment, jackass?
I am the one that talked about unity and happen to be Black not White. I think the discussion that unity is unrealistic and that we just tolerate each other is divisive. I think we all want an H street with diverse opportunities for dining and entertainment. If nothing else, I think we can unify on that, regardless of race. Please don't play the race card, if anything, it minimalizes the struggle of those who really did have to face obstacles during the 60's and did so much to get us to where we are now.
Stop picking on Clifton for a comment he didn't make. I have never seen Cliff be anything but friendly and accomodating to his guests. His ideas and outlook on H have always been refreshing. Secondly, it is a very good thing that people are so fired up about H. I am from a small town in Pennsylvania where there is no hope and the people just don't care about their town anymore. Thank God people care so much about the place. The next few years are going to be very interesting and exciting. Hopefully, many people will be pleased with the developments.
Give it a rest, Ray Charles can see that this is a racial issue. Neither Cluck u or Cliff resturants have been nothing but accomadating to everyone. Both places are clean and attractive to the eye. ANC and everyone else needs to be concentrating on that DIRTY RAT infested POPEYES. If ANC wants to see more upscales resturants they need to concentrate on all those abandon buildings on Hst, get the owners to sale or fix up. Concentrate on all the 9 bars that Joe E (white). is getting ready to open on Hst. Why is he working without the proper permits and hasnt been shut down?
A few points, there are not 9 more Joe Englert associated places opening on H Street (unless he comes up with some new ones nobody has heard of). I've seen a stop work order on one (Rock & Roll Hotel). If you are seeing rats at Popeyes, you should contact the Health Department, or speak with your commissioner if this is a persistent problem & the city is not helping.
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