It might not change a thing, but Glover Park residents are at least getting to vent their emotions as they protest, in various ways, that the landlord for Max’s Best Ice Cream did not renew the lease and instead gave it to Max’s next-door neighbor, Rocklands Barbecue. The latest development comes at the hands of fifth graders, who staged a peaceable protest outside Max’s on Thursday afternoon.
The group of 15, who marched to the store with posters, are students from Benjamin Stoddert Elementary School. “Stoddert Peacebuilders is a group of students at the school who care about making the world a better place by planting ‘seeds of peace’ whenever and wherever possible,” says Steve Dingledine of the Georgetown Patch.
For a certain segment of Washington—upper Northwest neighborhoods such as Spring Valley, Kent, Wesley Heights, American University park, and a few nearby Maryland suburbs, schoolkids, people attending weekend sporting events at Turtle Park, AU students, and commuters along the Massachusetts Avenue corridor—Wagshal’s is part of their daily lives. They can probably tell you their first Wagshal’s sandwich. I can, for sure: a #275, turkey with Russian dressing and coleslaw on rye bread. That was 1976. It’s still a favorite, along with the fine BLT. Other times it’s the Reuben and, like many devoted fans, the brisket. The point is, Wagshal’s is beloved. I wouldn’t change a thing. The owners of the store, however, are more ambitious.
In the next week, owner Bill Fuchs and his family will quietly begin to open their new enterprise in a building complex owned by American University that formerly housed Balducci’s and has long been home to Chef Geoff’s. Wagshal’s next-door neighbor, sharing half the space that was Balducci’s, is Roberto Donna’s Al Dente. The new Wagshal’s, a mile and a half from the old Wagshal’s, will take the brand into the 21st century.
At first it will open for a couple of hours a day. By the end of the month the Fuchs hope to have it fully open and serving practically everything under the sun, from sunrise to sunset. The approximate hours will be 8 AM to 9 PM. A sign that hangs outside the front doors on New Mexico Avenue lists “delicatessen, breads, pastries, butcher, organic, produce, seafood,” and the Fuchs are adding to the repertoire with house-made pastas and gelato, a grill for hamburgers and hot dogs, a deep fryer for latkes, indoor and outdoor seating, and table service.
When Orb, the horse owned by Stuart Janney III and his cousin Ogden Mills Phipps, won the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, it was a victory for their entire family. One of the nation’s most prominent horse-racing operations, the Janneys and Phippses have endured heartbreak to get to this moment. In 1975, their filly, Ruffian, snapped her foreleg during a televised race and was later euthanized.
Butler, Maryland-based Janney, now chairman of Bessemer Trust, has a long history in Washington. Early in his career, he worked as a legislative assistant to senators Charles Mathias and Howard Baker, and as a special assistant at the State Department. He also practiced law in Maryland.
Janney spoke with The Washingtonian about his nerves on Saturday, his trust in Orb’s trainer and jockey, and whether Orb will race in the Preakness in Baltimore on May 18.
What does this victory mean to your family?
It means everything in the sense that the Kentucky Derby is kind of the pinnacle of the sport. The horse that we won with goes back to, really, my grandmother, and goes through my parents. In a sense, whatever’s been accomplished has been accomplished because of all of those people who came before us. If you go back to his horse’s great-grandmother, four or five generations, this was a mare my grandmother owned and gave to my parents in the late 1950s, early 1960s.
Tell us about Orb. What makes him a champion?
I think he’s got an easy, fluid stride that allows him to put himself anywhere he needs to be in the race. He doesn’t want to be completely in the front, but he’s perfectly comfortable being a stalker and mid-pack if the pace is a bit slower. He’s comfortable in the back if the pace is really fast, which is what it was in the Derby. All credit to [jockey] Joel Rosario for figuring that out. Then he’s got a huge finishing kick, which he can sustain for a long time. That makes him a very dangerous horse. A lot of horses do have a terrific turn of foot at the end of a race, but they can’t sustain it for a long period of time. And the other part is he’s got a very good mind.
How did you feel going into the derby?
I’m always nervous. The bigger the race, the more nervous I am. That’s unfortunately a nasty side effect of being in this sport, because I don’t enjoy that. I felt comfortable that we had the best horse, but that doesn’t mean you win—lots of times you don’t. Particularly with a race like the Derby, which has 20 horses, there are a couple of things you know can go wrong. It’s the first time they’ve ever seen a crowd like that, [with the] noise and commotion, and they wait longer at every stage before they actually get to run. Some horses end up pretty much done before they even get in the starting gate. The second thing is a 20-horse field introduces a huge amount of racing luck. What [Orb’s trainer] Shug McGaughey suggested to Rosario was to just save as much ground as you can at the beginning of the race.
Describe that moment when you saw your horse finish first.
Huge relief. Well, some relief and some disbelief.
Boston has its ducks in the Public Garden, and Memphis has its ducks in the fountain of the Peabody Hotel. Washington has plenty of ducks, too, as well as geese—and since this is spring that also means a lot of ducklings and goslings. They can be found in all kinds of unlikely places—a city park, your back yard, the flower bed of an office building—but one of the best places to spot the adorable little balls of fluff is on the Potomac River, especially up river near Georgetown.
When you spot them it’s recommended to stop and stare, as we did this morning at the Georgetown Waterfront Park. The video is guaranteed to cheer you up on this dreary day.
Change hurts, especially when it involves a popular and long-time neighborhood business. Max’s Best Ice Cream in Glover Park is just that—a staple of the community, beloved by so many. Its customers have included First Lady Michelle Obama, who visited with daughters Sasha and Malia; Vice President Joe Biden and his family; and former Vice President Al Gore and his family. They are just a few of the legions of fans who have come in for pumpkin ice cream in the fall and peach ice cream in the summer and whose photos adorn the walls.
But now owner Max Keshani is out, and he’s not happy about it. “I’m not going to move until somebody comes and takes my body out of here,” he said Monday. “This is my joy, my life,” he says of the storefront location at 2416 Wisconsin Avenue. Keshani lost his lease after a proposed rent increase. The rub for many will be that the likely new tenant, who is next door and plans an expansion, is also a staple of the community: Rocklands Barbecue. Rocklands was opened 23 years ago by John Snedden, who lives nearby. Max’s opened a few years later. In a perfect world, both businesses could stay right where they are indefinitely, but booming neighborhoods such as Glover Park can’t help these kinds of growing pains. Rents go up, and worthy mom-and-pop businesses get squeezed.
Over the years, Snedden respected Max’s business and his lease but told the landlord—the Bassin family, who own MacArthur Liquors—that were the lease ever to become available he would be interested. At least twice a year he let the landlord and the property manager know that his interest had not waned. In the past four months the landlord contacted him to ask whether he was still interested. The answer was “absolutely.” Negotiations began between Snedden and a lawyer handling the building for the Bassins. A lease has not been signed, but a source said it is “imminent—in the mail.”
Do you harbor fantasies of borrowing a cup of sugar from Watergate sleuth Bob Woodward? Do you have $5 million to spare? If so, here’s your chance. A mansion on Q Street in Georgetown, adjacent to the Woodward home, is on the market. It was built in 1868 by DC’s first “governor,” Henry Cooke, as part of a 19th-century complex known as Cooke’s Row. Cooke lived in the R Street mansion that was home to Katharine Graham until her death, and now belongs to Mark Ein.*
If the $4.995 million asking price for 3023 Q Street is just too high, its conjoined twin, 3021 Q, is also on the market, for $4.2 million.
Worth noting: 3023 (with seven bedrooms, five full baths, and a garage) has been on the market for a little while, and in that time, according to the Georgetown Metropolitan, the price has gone not down but UP—by about $245,000. The Realtor is Cathie Gill. According to that office, no offers have yet been received.
*This post has been updated from a previous version.
For gardeners, foodies, casual shoppers, kids, parents—just about everyone—this weekend offers the Washington area two venerable spring festivals: the National Cathedral Flower Mart and the Azalea Garden Festival. Both start Friday morning and run through the weekend.
At the National Cathedral Flower Mart, expect to see racks of plants, stalls offering crafts, book sales, fresh strawberries, and carnival foods, performances, and rides for the little ones. In years past, an organ grinder has also been in attendance. Children love the merry-go-round, the moon bounce, and the pint-size Ferris wheel.
The Flower Mart runs Friday from 10 to 6 and Saturday from 10 to 5 and overtakes most of the Cathedral grounds at Wisconsin and Massachusetts avenues. There is garage parking, but it fills up early. The closest Metro station is Cleveland Park.
On Saturday only there will also be tours of the Cathedral’s tower at a cost of $10 per person. It’s a good workout—300 steps—and there is a minimum height requirement of four feet.
To enjoy the splendors of the Azalea Garden Festival, one has only to head out to the Landon School on Wilson Lane. Yes, it’s a great place to buy azalea plants, but you’ll also find rhododendrons, roses, peonies, mountain laurel, geraniums, lilacs, and herb and vegetable plants. In addition to the bountiful plant sales, there is a boutique with 60 vendors, games and rides for children of all ages, plus concessions offering pizza, lobster rolls, burgers, baked goods, and beverages. Expect concerts featuring the school’s bands and choirs.
The Azalea Festival runs Friday through Sunday, May 5, from 10 to 5. Parking is available on the Landon grounds.
For more fairs, festivals, and farmers markets, pick up a copy of the May issue of The Washingtonian, on newsstands now.
Anyone who has recently passed the Washington Monument—and that includes most of us who live here, plus another 25 million annual visitors to the Mall—can’t help but notice the almost daily progress of the scaffolding rising on the city’s most visible landmark. According to officials from the National Park Service, the scaffolding installation is more than halfway completed. In the next few weeks, weather permitting, the pyramidion at the top will be the final element. When it is topped off, workers will apply sheets of fabric from top to bottom, plus lights. The lights are cosmetic and will be turned on in June in a special lighting ceremony.
We got this timely update Thursday from two people in the know—Robert Vogel, the superintendent of the Mall, and Carol Johnson, who is with NPS—when we had a moment to talk with them at the annual luncheon of the Trust for the National Mall. It’s held on the grounds near the National Museum of American History, a spot where one can’t help but look up at the towering Monument, which has been closed since it was damaged in an earthquake in August 2011. Vogel and Johnson say the overall repair project is scheduled to be finished by this time next year, barring any unforeseen setbacks.
But first things first: the pyramidion. “Once they get to the pyramidion, from where it starts to angle in, it takes another two weeks to complete the scaffolding,” says Johnson. “That’s the most complex part of the scaffold.” Vogel says the top piece is the “most challenging part of the overall project, because the majority of the damage is at the pyramidion level.”
The stone masons won’t go up until the scaffold work is done, they say.
When NBA player Jason Collins came out as gay this week, it lit up the LGBT conversation and prompted the professional sports world to join in and consider the possibility of a new attitude. Could there be acceptance of openly gay players not only in the NBA, but also in other high-testosterone professional sports such as football, hockey, and baseball?
For the trailblazers who fought for gays in the military, the issues are familiar. Aubrey Sarvis is one of those trailblazers. For five and a half years he was the executive director of the Service Members Legal Defense Network. Sarvis and SLDN led the movement to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a change in law that made it possible for gays to serve openly in the military. The policy officially ended on September 20, 2011, and Sarvis stepped down from leading SLDN a year later. During the time he was the face and voice of the issue he counseled dozens of active-duty service members on when, how, and whether to come out.
We called Sarvis on Wednesday to get his thoughts on Collins’s pioneering move and how Sarvis’s own experience with DADT could relate to gays in professional sports.
“I don’t know [Collins], but [it was] certainly a remarkable coming out for him, for the NBA,” Sarvis says. “We are talking about a young man in the league for 12 years. I have to believe it was something he was wrestling with for a long time. He didn’t wake up last month and discover he was gay. I’m very proud of the decision he made, but a very selfish perspective [is] I wish he’d come out several years ago when he was playing a full season. To that extent I think it would have had an even larger impact.”
Sarvis sees a common thread between Collins and other gay figures in pro sports, the military, the corporate world, and politics. He understands their dilemma. “Do I come out before I make the team, before I become a corporate officer, before I get elected? Those are individual decisions, but the sooner they make that decision the more effective they will be.”
According to Sarvis, at its core coming out is about being ready personally to go public. “Whether you are a service member or a professional athlete, you have to make a decision where you are entirely comfortable in your skin about who you are and what you are about to embark upon,” he says. “You have to be absolutely comfortable with that decision, whatever it may be, whether it is to come out or to stay in the closet. My personal belief is that each individual is stronger when he or she makes that decision to come out.”
As part of a White House initiative announced last year, a symposium about the needs of child sex-trafficking victims kicked off this morning in Baltimore. Attendees, including Maryland and Virginia governors Martin O’Malley and Bob McDonnell, and health and human services secretary Kathleen Sebelius, are discussing health repercussions faced by trafficking survivors and how public policy can help.
Though little is known about the number of children affected by trafficking in the US, evidence collected by groups such as the Polaris Project shows the problem is widespread.
Two of the symposium’s organizers, Tracy Sefl and Autumn VandeHei (its third organizer is former The West Wing producer Allison Abner), took a few minutes to chat with The Washingtonian.