by Katherine Saltzman
Acacia Bistro has hired a new chef who plans to update the menu and create Mediterranean-inspired fusion dishes. Bouchaib Naji, originally from Morocco, explained the new menu would incorporate “global” Mediterranean flavors from the Middle East to Northern Italy. He envisions a menu with appetizers or tapas of traditional Mediterranean dishes, and a mix of flavors for the entrees.
“Certain appetizers have to be respected, but the dinner can have flavor from different parts of the world,” Naji said.
Co-owner Tracy Stannard has several plans to increase food options and services. Part of this effort includes designating space for community use, Stannard said, an area where people can gather for birthday parties or book readings.
“We are trying to do more things that bring the community together,” Stannard said.
Every Saturday there is a children’s reading circle and on Wednesdays, Soapstone holds a “Yoga and Wine” evening. In addition, local pop-up shops have shown interest in using the space.
New menu changes include pre-made appetizer trays for parties and hot bar breakfast items. Stannard also expects to start cake delivery in the neighborhood.
With Chick-fil-A out of the picture, it seems Burger King expects to stay a while.
ANC 3F Commissioners voted unanimously at their January 16th meeting to adopt a resolution supporting a nine-year extension of the zoning exception allowing for Burger King’s parking lot. (The discussion begins about 1:03:00 into the ANC 3F meeting livestream.)
Normally, the extension is reviewed every three years, but as it hopes to renovate the building in the future, Burger King wants assurances the parking lot will remain available. Prior to the vote, ANC 3F commissioners requested that representatives for Potomac Food Group, which operates DC-area Burger King franchises, demonstrate they were complying with existing conditions for use of the parking lot, such as the addition of trash cans, “no parking” and other signage, proper maintenance of the parking lot fence and communication with an ANC liaison. Potomac Food Group agreed to these conditions and started making improvements in January.
ANC commissioners requested plans and design details for building renovations which were not available at the time of January meeting. However, representatives for Potomac Food Group agreed to consult ANC commissioners early in the design stage.
Politics and Prose’s flagship store is adding approximately 3,500 square feet to the store’s current 11,500 square feet. The new retail space is expected to open this month.
Owners Bradley Graham and Lissa Muscatine wrote of the expansion in November, “…our decision to expand the main store represents an abiding commitment to the city’s northwest neighborhoods, whose residents have done so much to help strengthen and sustain P&P from its inception in 1984.”
Cleveland Park underwent significant business changes this January:
Petco/Target/Cold Stone Creamery
In Sam’s Park & Shop shopping center, Petco closed on January 23rd and will be replaced by Target. The national ice cream chain Cold Stone Creamery is to move into Secolari Olive Oil’s former storefront. Both Target and Cold Stone Creamery are expected to open in this summer, according to WTOP. This would be Cold Stone’s second try at a Cleveland Park shop. The first one was directly across the street, in the former Uptown Scoop location. It closed in 2009.
Cyrus Manafzadeh, owner of Artisan Lamp, who established and operated the neighborhood store for 39 years announced in January, said it would be closing on March 15th.
Manafzadeh expressed sadness the store was closing but shared his appreciation for the Cleveland Park community and neighbors.
“We love the neighborhood,” he told Forest Hills Connection. “It wasn’t an easy decision to close. It was very hard. Our minds said to stay but our bodies said otherwise.”
Manafzadeh said the store’s website would stay active for a period after the store closes and employees would continue working on lamp and light restoration and repairs.
Al Volo, which occupies Ripple’s former storefront, is owned by uncle and nephew duo Daniele and Matteo Catalani. They opened the Cleveland Park location in December. It’s been an adjustment for both of them.
“This is our biggest location, biggest leap we have ever done,” Matteo Catalani said. They also own a restaurant in Adams Morgan and a stand at Union Market.
Al Volo serves lunch and dinner during the week and brunch on Sundays. They expect to extend brunch to Saturdays at some point in the future.
Cleveland Park Business Association
Cleveland Park doesn’t have an officially-sanctioned business booster like Van Ness Main Street. But it does have the Cleveland Park Business Association (CPBA).
CPBA organizers Pierre Abushacra of Firehook Bakery and Susan Lihn, owner of Wake-Up Little Suzie, are optimistic about changes in the neighborhood.
“I am always looking at the glass half full. We are a small area, we have a great mix of business, when there is [store] changeover we get a lot of publicity because it is very visible” Abushacra said.
In addition, both Abushacra and Lihn stressed how valuable community support was for local businesses. Neighbors have organized committees within the CPBA to promote commercial retailers and increase foot traffic. Community members in the CPBA, for example, have been instrumental in securing the Saturday Farmers Market and organizing the family weekend movie screenings at the Uptown theater, they said.
“We have had tremendous amount of progress over the last year because of increased volunteers that have come to the neighborhood to help,” Abushacra added.
“It is difficult for small business in Cleveland Park to run a business and try to do a lot of other things, so to have citizen groups involved based on the Main Street model is exactly what we need. As business owners we are really lucky to have that,” Lihn said.
Johnson’s Flower and Garden Center
Community concerns escalated over the closing of Johnson’s Flower and Garden Center (4200 Wisconsin Avenue) in January.
Johnson’s said rising rents forced the shop to close after 84 years in the neighborhood. Mary Alice Levine, a Tenleytown resident, started a petition demanding Johnson’s landlord, American University, make amends to protect Johnson’s. And she said community members are continuing efforts to bring the garden store back.
“We will be trying to talk to AU President Burwell at her annual town hall and reception on February 26,” Levine wrote in an email to Forest Hills Connection.
The petition reads: “AU is a non-profit and as part of their exemption from paying taxes, they should provide strong and ongoing community support. We ask AU President Burwell to reopen negotiations with Johnson’s in an effort to save this historic community resource.”
American University released a statement with a timeline of negotiations between Johnson’s and AU. In 2014, it said, “Johnson’s first expressed concerns about the viability of its Tenley location.” In 2016, both parties signed a letter of intent that “reflected below-market rent and the full amount of real property taxes for the Outdoor Space which the parties had agreed was appropriate since Johnson’s would continue to have exclusive use of the space for the greenhouse and customer parking.” But in the summer of 2017, AU’s statement said, Johnson’s requested “significant material changes to the Letter of Intent terms” and that “[t]he additional demands could not be met by the University.”
Katherine Saltzman is the newest addition to the Forest Hills Connection team. She will be checking in regularly with updates on area businesses. Got news to share? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saltzman is also a paid reporter for the Connection, part of our initiative to support young journalists as they begin their careers. We are about half way to our $5,000 fundraising goal for 2018. We appreciate your donations and we love our advertisers!