Phase 1 (Photo via Flickr/notionscapital)One of the oldest LGBT bars in D.C. has hit the market.

Phase 1 (525 8th St. SE), which had catered to the District’s lesbians since 1970, shut its doors “until further notice” in February, according to a post on its Facebook page. Now, a “For Sale or Lease” banner hangs outside, local blog Capitol Hill Corner reported today.

“I’m not open right now — I’m taking a break,” co-owner Allen Carroll told Capitol Hill Corner. “I don’t know what I want to do. I’ve been open 46 years. I’ve got it up for sale or lease.”

This bar isn’t the only business geared toward the LGBT community to close on Capitol Hill in the past few years.

Remington’s (637-639 Pennsylvania Ave. SE), a gay bar, shut down in 2014 after operating for 30 years. The buildings that used to house Remington’s now consist of a Sprint outlet and a 7-Eleven store.

Phase 1’s closing was “truly a disappointing loss both to the local lesbian community and to Barracks Row,” executive director Martin Smith of Barracks Row Main Street told Capitol Hill Corner. “Phase 1 was one of the oldest businesses on 8th Street.”

Phase 1’s Dupont Circle outpost also closed last year.

Photo via Flickr/notionscapital


Morning Rundown

Hine School project student art

Early Buzz on Whaley’s — Whaley’s, Navy Yard’s new raw bar and seafood restaurant, is garnering mostly good early reviews. Diners who have stopped in at the eatery say to try the “colorful” cocktails, feast on the “dessert-like” scallops and try the seafood risotto. [Eater DC]

Wunder Garden Cometh — The NoMa beer garden is reportedly set to return soon at the corner of 1st and L streets NE. [District Cuisine]

Inside Capitol Hill’s ‘Cheers’ Bar, Mr. Henry’s — The bartenders at Mr. Henry’s know everybody’s name, which is probably part of the reason they’ve stayed open for four decades. [Eater DC]

MPD to Tweet Crime Updates After All — After hearing from plenty of upset Twitter users, the D.C. Police Department will resume tweeting breaking crime alerts. The news comes just one day after police said they’d stop the practice. [Twitter / D.C. Police]


The Alibi (Photo via The Alibi)The Alibi pub near the U.S. Capitol will soon be able to serve alcohol after the owners’ application for a liquor license was approved by the District Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration.

The license was granted on the condition that Martin Scahill, a former business partner of the owners, is barred from any involvement with the pub. Scahill was a part owner of My Brother’s Place, a bar that used to occupy the building at 237 2nd Street NW but shut down after failing to pay fines for multiple charges of serving alcohol to minors.

Rachel Traverso, who, along with her father Richard Traverso, owns The Alibi, was previously engaged to Scahill and was an employee at My Brother’s Place, according to the ABRA order.

The order detailed numerous penalties levied against My Brother’s Place during its “sad and sordid history.”

“The litany of misdeeds committed at the establishment includes multiple incidents of illegal alcohol sales to large numbers of minors and the intentional sale of age identifying wristbands to minors by employees so that the minors could buy alcohol inside the establishment,” the ABRA order says.

My Brother’s Place developed a reputation for serving to minors, particularly among Catholic University students, who reported being served alcohol without showing ID or after showing poor-quality fake identification, according to ABRA. The owners of My Brother’s Place still owe $16,500 in unpaid fines related to these charges.

After My Brother’s Place closed, Scahill applied for a license for a new eatery at the location. Scahill was accused by the alcohol board of being unfit to receive a license based on his history with My Brother’s Place, but a hearing was never held as Scahill revoked his application.

The license process for The Alibi was delayed as the regulation board attempted to determine Scahill’s involvement with the new company that owns and operates the pub. Ultimately, the owners offered to obtain an order barring Scahill from the location and any involvement with the company for five years.

The barring notice requires the owners of The Alibi to call the police if Scahill is on the premises and prevents Scahill from doing any paid or unpaid work for the company.

On Wednesday, ABRA accepted the barring notice against Scahill and granted the pub a license to serve alcohol on the condition that they adhere to the terms of the notice.

The pub, which has operated as a restaurant without liquor since March 2015, does not have a set drink menu yet. However, a sample preview menu on their website lists a mix of American and British craft beers as well as a cocktail menu.

The owners of The Alibi could not immediately be reached for comment.

Photo via The Alibi

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Da Luft Restaurant & Lounge

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board fined a lounge on the H Street corridor $5,000 for several rule violations.

Da Luft at 1242 H St. NE, which had its license suspended for several days after a fight in April, was fined for violating three Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration rules. The bar and lounge did not have an ABC Board approved manager present while alcoholic beverages were being sold, failed to show and ABRA investigator their business records and licenses and failed to keep a record of times when police were called to the bar, according to the order released today by the ABC Board.

The majority of the fine was related to the failure to show an ABRA investigator their license. An ABRA investigator visited the bar on March 19 and talked to an employee who claimed to be an ABRA licensed manager but didn’t provide his license, which all managers are required to keep with them.

Several days later, the employee, Ijiti Ajiboye Laosebikan, sent a picture of his license to the investigator, according to the Alcohol Control Board order. However, the investigator discovered that the license number was assigned to a different employee and that the license had been altered in the picture sent to investigators.

The order added an additional $500 fine because Laosebikan was the only manager present at the time of the March inspection, meaning there was not a licensed manager present while alcohol was being served.

Another $500 fine was levied because the bar and lounge refused to provide written records of every time the police had been called to the bar. In April, the bar was closed for four days after a bystander was injured and a police officer was assaulted when a brawl inside the bar spilled out onto the sidewalk.

The Board’s order also noted that the bar was accused of selling alcohol between 3 and 8 a.m. on a Saturday, a violation of D.C. law. However, that charge was dropped because a key witness was unavailable.

The bar has 30 days to pay the fine or its liquor license will be suspended. Also, if the bar violates the rules any time in the next year, they will automatically have their license suspended for two days.

Representatives from Da Luft could not be reached immediately to comment on the fine.


Starbucks sign (Photo via Flickr/Charles Williams)A lager or Merlot soon might be as common as a latte or smoothie at a Starbucks two blocks from the U.S. Capitol.

The Starbucks at 237 Pennsylvania Ave. SE has applied for a liquor license to serve beer and wine, according to paperwork filed with the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration this week.

The filing came after Starbucks submitted liquor license applications for locations in Dupont Circle, Georgetown, Chevy Chase, Arlington and Reston last week.

A Starbucks representative told Hill Now’s sibling publication, Borderstan, then that the push for alcoholic drinks is part of the company’s new “Starbucks Evenings” service, which also includes a small plate menu. The coffee chain may serve “craft beer,” along with red, white and sparkling wines by the bottle and glass, according to a sample menu.

But food and drinks vary by region, meaning it’s possible the stores could serve local beer and wine. Small plate possibilities include truffle mac and cheese, bacon-wrapped dates, chicken skewers and truffle popcorn.

Photo via Flickr/Charles Williams


Cantina Marina Halloween (Photo via Instagram/Cantina Marina)

A restaurant along the Southwest waterfront is preparing to close its outdoor bar at the end of this month, but not without a celebration first.

Cantina Marina’s outdoor bar at 600 Water St. SW will remain open through Halloween, weather-depending, according to an automated message left on the eatery’s voicemail. A representative of the restaurant couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Before it closes outside, the dock bar is getting into the fall spirit by throwing a Halloween party Oct. 31, according to its Instagram account.

The entire restaurant, which includes an indoor seating area, typically closes in the winter. Last year, Cantina Marina shut down Dec. 13 and reopened in early March, with the return of spring weather.

Cantina Marina is open every day of the week at 11:30 a.m.

Photo via Instagram/Cantina Marina


Bluejacket beer (Photo via Facebook/Bluejacket DC)Bluejacket is set to begin pouring and selling bottles of its beers in a new space at Navy Yard’s Boilermaker Shops this week.

The brewery’s bottle shop and tasting room are slated to open officially on Saturday in the former Buzz Bakery location adjoining Bluejacket at 300 Tingey St. SE. The bakery, which was owned by Bluejacket owner Neighborhood Restaurant Group, closed last month.

The grand opening, which will coincide with DC Beer Week, will feature “a bevy of our rarest bottles,” including its Whiskey Barrel-Aged Mexican Radio, Red Wine Barrel-Aged Swirl and Judge Ruby, according to a Facebook post for the event.

“This is the perfect opportunity to visit the renovated space, sample some classic, vintage and rare Bluejacket brews on draft, and shop our expanded bottle selection,” the event post says.

The opening day festivities will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Photo via Facebook/Bluejacket DC


Morning Rundown

650 Pennsylvania Ave. SE

Police: Recent NoMa-Area Shootings Weren’t Random — Two shootings that happened in the NoMa area this week weren’t random attacks, police said. The shootings were in the Flats 140 apartment building at 140 M St. NE and on the 900 block of 3rd Street NE Sunday. The 3rd Street shooting was fatal. [Hill Now]

Trusty’s 10th Anniversary — Trusty’s in Hill East is celebrating its 10th anniversary this week by donating 10 percent of its proceeds to a local nonprofit organization, Jan’s Tutoring House. The bar is at 1420 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. [PoPville]

Goats to Return to Congressional Cemetery — Goats are returning to Congressional Cemetery in Hill East next month to eat invasive plants. They previously helped with lawn work at the cemetery in 2013. [Washington Post]


The Argonaut owners Scott Magnuson and Shaaren Pine

Hill Now periodically publishes profiles of locals — from longtime residents to newcomers, from government officials to ordinary folks. Know someone we should feature? Email us at [email protected].

Five years after a fire incinerated half of their restaurant, the owners of The Argonaut on the H Street corridor still are serving the neighborhood that helped them recover.

Since its founding in 2005, The Argonaut at 1433 H St. NE has developed a loyal following that was there for owners Scott Magnuson and Shaaren Pine when an electrical fire destroyed their kitchen and bar in 2010.

After locals and fellow businesses donated money, kitchen supplies and their time, the husband and wife duo were able to reopen in 25 days.

On any given evening, Magnuson and Pine will host families for dinner, college students for rounds of beer and retirees who reminisce under the ornate black tin ceiling in what has become a neighborhood staple in the Capitol Hill area.

“We’re laid-back, we’re friendly and we cater to everybody,” Magnuson said. “We live and die by the neighborhood.”

The Argonaut was part of the initial wave of restaurants to open up on the H Street corridor.

Magnuson said when the bar first opened they were serving cheap drinks to a crowd of regulars. In 2007, the arrival of their daughter made them consider accommodating fellow parents, and now children eat free at their restaurant.

“It used to be pretty dive-y and, I mean, it’s still pretty dive-y, but we’ve tried to make it a lot more family-friendly,” Pine said.

The Argonaut’s staff also accommodate the students of nearby Gallaudet University, which focuses on the education of deaf and hard of hearing students.

The restaurant tries to keep at least one person who knows sign language on staff at all times, Pine said, before quickly moving her hands to spell out “signers.”

The couple also is active outside of The Argonaut. They donate food to community groups, sponsor little league teams and run the nonprofit organization Restaurant Recovery. The organization helps service industry workers who are addicted to drugs or alcohol.

The Argonaut owners this year released a memoir, “Torn Together: One Family’s Journey Through Addiction, Treatment & the Restaurant Industry,” which explores their struggle to fight Magnuson’s addiction to drugs and alcohol.

“We want to support the families of addicts and alcoholics and shine a light onto restaurant culture,” Pine said.

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Capitol Lounge (photo via Facebook) is up and running and we want you to come celebrate with us.

Join Hill Now staff and friends in the Nixon Room of Capitol Lounge (229 Pennsylvania Ave. SE) starting at 8 p.m. tonight (Wednesday) for drinks and some free schwag. The Nats might not be playing, but we will have the World Series on for baseball fans.

We’re working to earn your trust and ongoing readership. We want to cover the stories that matter to you, in a way that will improve the community conversation.

Have any thoughts on what kind of news we should be covering or how we should cover it? Let us know, either at the event or via email. See you tonight!


Exterior of The Ugly MugA Barracks Row bar’s expansion and renovation plan failed to win support from ANC 6B commissioners, who voted last night (Tuesday) to protest it before the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration.

The Ugly Mug (723 8th Street SE) wants to install a retractable roof and nearly double its seating capacity. That drew criticism from residents and fellow business owners, who cited concerns about trash, noise, rodents and parking in emails and in person before the commission.

The plans call for the Mug to expand to the second floor of its building, adding capacity for 95 people upstairs for a total capacity of just under 200, including its sidewalk cafe.

The bar also wants to add a retractable roof near the rear of the building, to allow patrons to enjoy fresh air on nice weather days. The roof will be located in an area with seating for 37 patrons, according to Ugly Mug owner Gaynor Jablonski.

Jablonski portrayed himself as a conscientious local business owner who’s trying to better serve his burgeoning customer base. He promised community benefits with the expansion like soundproofed walls, indoor keg storage and an effort to obtain permission to build a trash enclosure in the alley behind the bar.

He also pledged to close the retractable roof at 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and at midnight Friday and Saturday, and to increase the frequency of trash and recycling pickups to twice a week for both.

That wasn’t enough for the eight residents who spoke out against the plan Tuesday. Many accused the Ugly Mug of not living up to its existing promises and worried that an expansion would effectively double the number of problems.

Among those alleged problems:

  • Rodents: “We really have to think hard about the new opportunities for rodents that [these plans] could create,” said a C Street SE resident. ” i am concerned about the precedence that sets for the neighborhood.”
  • Noise and loitering employees: “We have written letters to The Ugly Mug concerning… employees emptying trash at 3:00 to 4:00 a.m. [That creates] lots of noise,” said a 7th Street SE resident. “Employees lounge on our properties and smoke cigarettes.”
  • Odors and vibrations: “I just moved here in the middle of August from Ohio,” said a resident who lives in a 7th Street SE apartment behind The Ugly Mug. “[There are] significant odors of food and waste that would sometimes wake me up.” There are also vibrations that felt like “airplanes landing in my living room. This is a really big concern for us.”
  • Parking: “Every time you add another 100 people, believe me, those people don’t always come on Metro or walk, they’ll come in cars,” said one E Street SE resident. “It’s just outrageous… we shouldn’t be faced with accommodating parkers. The [business owners] who make the money should get together and build a parking garage.”
  • Vomiting bar patrons: “I go to the Mug, I like the half-priced pizza,” said a 7th Street SE resident. “But the dog knows where the vomit is. One area of vomit on E Street has been there for three weeks. I don’t see power washing, it’s a tragedy. Bars are great, I’ve gone to them all my life, but sometimes enough is enough. Let’s have some retail, let’s get some other opportunities.”

The Ugly Mug did have one supporter speak out at the meeting, who refuted some of the claims from critics and took Jablonski at his word.

“I mean, it’s a bar,” said an E Street SE resident. “It’s a great owner, great staff. They’re going to go over and beyond what they say, and maybe they’ll set an example for other restaurants on the block who are actually causing the rat problem.”

The commission voted 6-0-2 to protest the changes before ABRA, with commissioners largely siding with the residents. They reported receiving nearly 30 emails on the matter.

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