Serendipity 3 and Sushi-Ko Closed; to Re-open Soon?

April 11, 2016

As some D.C. establishments closed for Fourth of July festivities, two local restaurants, Serendipity 3 and Sushi-Ko, closed for less celebratory reasons: health code violations.

Serendipity 3 at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and M Street was briefly closed last week because of three citations from the D.C. Department of Health. The famous New York-based eatery was cited for not posting a business license, failing to have appropriately hot (110 degrees) water at every hand sink, and storing meat and other perishables at temperatures above the required temperature (41 degrees).

Although the manager told WUSA9 News that he dealt with the citations and reopened the business, Serendipity 3 was closed July 8. The sign over its doors read: “Sorry, we are closed for the remainder of the evening we apologize for any inconvenience.”

In addition, local favorite Sushi-Ko at 2309 Wisconsin Ave., NW, in Glover Park has been closed since June 28 because of an expired business license. Although the owner Daisuke Utagawa has not given specific details about the restaurant’s closing, previous news report cited the business’s bill with the Office of Taxation and Revenue. The Department of Consumer Regulation reportedly required Sushi-Ko to pay its bill before it can reopen.

Utagawa told the Washington Business Journal last week he was trying to get the restaurant open this week. “We’re working to renew the business license, and as soon as we do, we’ll open right back up again,” Utagawa said. “We’ve got everything except one little part.”

As for Serendipity 3’s brief closure, the Georgetowner contacted two of its representatives but has not heard back by press time.

UPDATE: After quickly dealing with minor infractions, Serendipity 3 re-opened.

Mei Xiang’s Pandemonium: Pregnant or Not?

September 9, 2013

D.C.’s only female giant panda, Mei Xiang, may be pregnant, and the National Zoo has closed part of its panda house to provide quiet for her.

Fourteen-year-old Mei Xiang, who gave birth to Tai Shan in 2005 and a cub that died in 2012, is now experiencing behavioral and hormonal changes indicative of pregnancy. Zoo spokeswoman Devin Murphy explained that the panda has shown sensitivity to noise and is building a nest. Scientists have also noticed a rise in her urinary progesterone for the second time since her artificial insemination on March 30.

After natural breeding attempts were unsuccessful, a veterinarian performed artificial insemination two times. In the first procedure, semen from Tian Tian, the National Zoo’s male panda, was used. The second used a combination of Tian Tian and the San Diego Zoo’s male panda Gao Gao’s semen.

If Mei Xiang is indeed pregnant, then Washingtonians can expect to welcome a new cub in 35 to 50 days.

However, Mei Xiang may not be pregnant and instead is experiencing a pseudopregancy. Female giant pandas often experience false pregnancies when they ovulate but do not conceive. It is difficult to determine whether the pregnancy is real because the signs of actual pregnancies also occur during pseudopregnancies. Also, fetuses do not develop until the final weeks of gestation and are extremely small, and ultrasounds do not provide conclusive answers. Newborn cubs are only about the size of a stick of butter, weighing between three and five ounces.

Although the section of the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat nearest Mei Xiang’s den is closed to the public, panda enthusiasts can watch Mei Xiang online via the zoo’s panda cams at

Signature’s ‘Spin’: a Fresh Musical of Family, Fame and Fortune

Signature Theatre’s new musical, “Spin,” invites us to reflect on the challenges of personal growth, all the while laughing about the unexpected twists of family, fame and fortune. A seemingly lighthearted performance about washed-up, wanna-be pop star Evan Peterson, played by James Gardiner, “Spin” offers a web of ambition, relationships and love that reveals a engaging and introspective look into a modern American family.

“Spin,” written by Brian Hill with lyrics and music by Neil Bartram, is based on the 2008 South Korean film “Speedy Scandal.” It depicts Peterson’s development from a boy-band wonder to a reality television host to a father – and grandfather. Peterson’s life of serial one-night stands and take-out gets spun upside down when his daughter Makalo, played by Carolyn Cole, and Jesse, played by Holden Brown, knock on his door. Because neither his ego nor his suede couches are prepared for the responsibilities of father- and grandfather-hood, he understandably goes a little haywire.

After spending more time with them, he begins to see his own musicality reflected in them. Despite his initial unhappiness, Makalo and Jesse sneak their way deeper into his life until he ultimately chooses, after a series of distressing circumstances, them over personal fame.

Also, the unfolding stories of Evan’s romance with Jesse’s teacher Allison, played by Erin Driscoll, and workplace competition with his coworker Richard, played by Bobby Smith, add intrigue, helping the audience understand – and root for – Peterson.

The familiar plot of a man balancing work and family could have made the show fall flat, but the musical’s production makes it, instead, quite a lively performance. With an expressive chorus, jazzy tap dance routine, and dynamic set, the show never loses the audience’s attention.

“Spin” is the first work ever created in Signature Theatre’s new “siglab.” Siglab describes itself as “a special laboratory series that gives writers the opportunity to rehearse their shows for four weeks with professional actors and designers – focusing on structure, storytelling, music and script – and to see their work come to life as fully-staged productions.” Given its unique mission, it allowed writer Brian Hill, lyricist Neil Bartram and director Eric Schaeffer to experiment and perfect the show before its debut.

Furthermore, because “Spin” stems from the South Korean film, “Speedy Scandal,” siglab allowed the production team the time and resources to Americanize the performance. Interestingly enough, “Spin” will be translated into Korean and brought to Seoul, South Korea, after it leaves Arlington’s Signature Theatre.

The audience reaps the benefits of siglab and its resources, enjoying dynamic staging, a modern script and artfully integrated technology. For example, since the script was continually revised during rehearsal, the show’s pop culture references to scandals, such as Paula Deen’s recent one, feel immediately relevant. The production uses big-screen televisions to flash funny photos and quips, engaging the audience throughout the performance.

A family-friendly, thoughtful performance, “Spin” has all the ingredients to make you rhythmically tap your foot, anxiously scoot to the edge of your seat and pensively stroke your beard. Looks like its time to add this musical to your calendar.

“Spin,” with a time of two hours and 20 minutes, runs through July 27 at Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, Va. — 703-820-9771 —

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Volta Park Opens New Playground

August 1, 2013

Georgetown’s Volta Park officially opened its new playground July 22 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and visit by Mayor Vincent Gray, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, other local politicians, Parks & Recreation employees and friends of the park. After less than two months of construction, kids are already meeting playmates and enjoying play dates.

“I think it’s really great…and a good investment,” Laura Pesty said, as she pushed her 15-month-old baby on the new, four-seat swing set.

The renovated playground, located on Q Street between 33rd and 34th Street within the park, also features a jungle gym, rope structure, sand pit, plastic climber with an attached slide and see saw. A new PebbleFlex surface covers the ground, protecting children from scraped knees and other injuries.

“I love the surface because it looks very safe for my active grandson,” said Jane Holloway during an afternoon visit. Pesty agreed, “The ground is very soft, and I appreciate that.”

The playground also has benches and picnic tables for parents, grandparents and babysitters to sit and watch their children.

Part of the Play D.C. initiative, the Volta playground is a product of a partnership between the Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of General Services and the Georgetown community. Play D.C. describes itself as a project that “will improve and renovate an unprecedented number of play spaces during the 2013 fiscal year…[and] prioritize maintenance and capital improvements.”

The community-based nonprofit Friends of Volta Park Georgetown raised and contributed about $40,000 to buy most of the equipment, and the city covered construction costs. The DPR paid for the park’s “demolition and prep, equipment installation and delivery, the purchase of the new swing set, safety surface, benches and refurbished sandbox,” according to a DPR press release.
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Bandolero Cited by Health Department

July 29, 2013

The Department of Health closed yet another Georgetown eatery last week: Bandolero.

The Mexican restaurant, located at 3241M St., NW, had eight critical and two noncritical health code violations. The DOH citations included, among others, “cold food items…held at improper temperatures” and “lots of flies in the kitchen.”

Its summary suspension only lasted for one day, and the restaurant reopened on July 17 after passing another inspection.

Russ Ptacek, the WUSA News reporter who covered the closing first, tweeted that an “unidentified worker” attributed the inspection to an enduring “landlord dispute.” Jonathan Umbel, part-time owner of Bandolero restaurant and Tacklebox restaurant, has been involved in a civil litigation lawsuit with the building owner since 2011. Tacklebox was also inspected and closed earlier this month by the Department of Health. The landlord is trying to evict both eateries.

Fringe Fest: Baum’s ‘Impossible to Translate’ Easily Entertains

One-woman performances bring up one question: can a single storyteller actually hold an audience’s attention for the entire show? You might be tempted to think not.

But, Israeli storyteller Noa Baum does just this, defying any skepticism.

In “Impossible to Translate, But I’ll Try,” her first show in the Capital Fringe Festival, Baum engagingly and humorously carries the audience through waves of memories. She narrates everything from growing up as a young Jewish girl in Jerusalem to living as an Israeli adult in America. Through five distinct stories, Baum invites us to meet her beloved “bubbe” (“grandmother” in Yiddish), learn about her namesake, the original Jewish feminist, watch her fall in love – twice – and reflect on the meaning of motherhood. As a Jewish viewer, I related to her stories, appreciating the rawness of her experiences.

Imagining Baum’s Israeli childhood through her verbal vignettes, the audience hears a unique, loving perspective on a country most often associated with violence and vengeance. We learn about neighborhood hideaways she enjoyed with friends in Jerusalem and the dating scene. Her honest, warm tone conveys youthful frivolity and happiness and humanizes Israel in a refreshing, engrossing way.

Baum, an experienced storyteller, is quite funny. Her mannerisms, Yiddish interjections and voice changes keep the audience laughing. Her show primarily draws a 40-and-over-crowd, but the relatable humor and self-deprecation in her show also make it family-friendly.

Seventy-five minutes of memories and laughter later, the audience will have its question about one-women shows answered: yes, it is possible. Baum proves it.

Tickets are still available for shows on Sunday, July 21, 5:45 p.m., and Sunday, July 28, 4:45 p.m., at Goethe Institut, 812 7th St. NW, Tickets can be bought at

D.C.’s Themed Runs: a Winning Trend – and Yours to Win

July 26, 2013

Home to everything from gourmet cupcakes to rooftop bars, D.C. is fertile ground for new trends to take root. This summer, Washington welcomes another winning fad: themed runs.

“Take running and add a whole lot of silly,” said Dean Silkstone, manager of Georgetown Running Company, describing this new athletic phenomenon. Ranging between three and 10 kilometers, the races have their own quirky obstacles and characteristics. These themes give the events a special twist that makes, as Silkstone explained, “running enjoyable even for people who never before considered themselves runners.”

“The events focus not so much on competition but instead on fun,” said Silkstone, so that people of all ages, gender, and levels of athleticism can participate. College freshman Gawan Fiore said, “The vast majority were 18-28 [years old]” in an electric run he recently completed. “Our races end up being about 55 percent female,” added Michael Epstein, president of the Down & Dirty Obstacle Run.

However, that’s not to say these races are not family-friendly. “It is a great father-daughter experience,” said mud-running veteran Jim Delgado, calling both runs he completed with his daughters “memorable and a lot of fun.”

The D.C. area will host singles’ runs, mud runs, rave runs, color runs and firefighter-themed runs, to name a few. Here is a preview of the most spunky, intriguing ones coming up soon:

Run n’ Mate 5K kicks off its five-run series on Friday, July 19. Describing its participants as “a community of young, active adults who want to meet other people with similar interests,” this race says it provides the “perfect opportunity” for runners to socialize. On Friday evening, participants gather for happy hour at a bar to mingle with – and motivate – each other. Saturday morning, runners complete the 5K. At night, they enjoy a post-race celebration in a local bar or club with their fellow finishers. Details can be found at [here](

Down & Dirty Obstacle Run takes place on Sunday, July 21. “People looking to test themselves and try a new, exciting event” should try this race, said Epstein. Offering both 10Ks and 5Ks, participants climb a 24-foot cargo net, crawl under a rope net, leap over logs, and trek through a thick mud pit before completing the course. Details can be found [here](

The Rave Run happens on Saturday, Aug. 17. This 5K, starting at 8:30 P.M., refers to itself as the event that brings “the adrenaline pumping music and special effects from electronic festivals into a fun run course…with music and light stations, neon-clad runners and a thriving after-party with live music.” Details can be found [here](

Color in Motion 5K, on Saturday, Sept. 14, covers runners in pigments, paints, and pastels throughout the course. The run directs participants to wear white and prepare for “your moving body [to be] plastered in an explosion of vibrant color with all your friends” and promises to “transform a group of ordinary runners into a moving rainbow,” giving participants and spectators alike a morning to remember. Details can be found [here](

Hero Rush Obstacle Race, taking place on Saturday, Sept. 21, describes itself as “the tough, crazy, fear-facing fun 4-5 mile race with 17+ totally unique firefighter and hero-themed obstacles.” Exposing participants to the types of athletic challenges faced by firefighters, the event pushes runners to push themselves outside their comfort zones and test their physical limits. Details can be found [here](

With courses scattered throughout D.C., Maryland, and Virginia and such a broad range of themes, there indeed seems to be an event for everyone.

Plus, since this themed run phenomenon appears to be here to stay, why not run, walk, crawl, jump or even dance along?

Restaurant Closings: Tackle Box, Sahara Prince of the Harbor

July 22, 2013

The D.C. Department of Health made the Georgetown scene again, after showing up during the Fourth of July, to shut down temporarily a few more restaurants. Last week, two new Georgetown establishments faced similar fates: Tackle Box and Sahara Prince of the Harbor.

As first reported by investigative reporter Russ Ptacek of WUSA9 News, representatives of Tackle Box and Sahara Prince found it difficult to respond to the citations forthrightly.

Tackle Box, Georgetown’s self-proclaimed “first and only lobster shack” located at 3245 M St., NW, received 14 citations for health code violations, six of which were considered “critical.” The citations include, among others, rat droppings and flies in the eatery. This closing comes approximately 10 months after Tackle Box received a cease and desist order last April.

Sahara Prince of the Harbor, the lounge and tobacco shop at 1042 Wisconsin Ave., NW, received 22 violations. Frozen food was found in a broken freezer stored at an inappropriately high 45 degrees. Also, like Tackle Box, rat droppings were spotted.

Both restaurants have since addressed their citations and reopened for business.

Castleton Festival: A Musical Meeting of the Minds

July 18, 2013

Near the roaring Rappahannock River, the 2013 Castleton Festival, running through July 28, is making some noise of its own – in the form of beautiful, harmonious operas and orchestras.

“A place where future meets the present – the future stars of the opera and concert worlds are nurtured by its present stars,” the festival describes itself as a meeting place of musical minds and talent. Through the rehearsals and shows, aspiring musicians have the opportunity to meet, work with and learn from veteran virtuosos. Through their interactions, both generations of musicians can share past experiences, learn from each other, and hone their skills.

“Both of us care very much about young people, and feel that there is a kind of basic misunderstanding, especially in the United States, that young people don’t care about classical music or theater or opera or whatever,” said festival-founder and renowned conductor Maestro Lorin Maazel in an interview with PBS NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown of his and his wife’s motivation to start the annual event.

This year, more than 180 young artists, students, and mentors are involved in the festival, presenting audiences with a kaleidoscope of musical performances. Renowned conductor and festival-founder Maestro Lorin Maazel, German actress Dietlinde Turban Maazel, Jewish opera singer Neil Shicoff and orchestra conductor Rafael Payare are among the musical gurus participating.

The festival features productions of “Otello,” “The Girl of the Golden West” and “La Voix Humaine” and concerts, including the work of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Mahler, Britten, Tchaikovsky and the festival’s own Young Composer’s Forum. In addition, the festival offers many song recitals and chamber music shows.

Located at Castleton Farms, the Maazels’ home, the natural setting coupled with the mellifluous music creates a one-of-a-kind experience. “You forget you are in a field on a farm because you are transported to another place – an exciting, thrilling, world-class performance worthy of the Met or Kennedy Center,” said festival spokeswoman Jenny Lawhorn.
“It is impossible to avoid the creativity and enthusiasm all around the place,” Lawhorn continued. She recommended the recitals performed in the small theater by students from the Castleton Artists Training Seminar because “they attract an insider audience of artists and singers who are electrifying company.”

“The Girl of the Golden West” is another highlight. “An opera about the American Wild West [and] California Gold Rush,” the performance “is so fabulous…like Gunsmoke but in Italian,” explained Lawhorn.

To round out the experience, the festival also offers fine dining. Dinners and brunches prepared by chef Claire Lamborne include gourmet options such as truffle scented lobster risotto, jumbo lump crab cake and parmesan-crusted cod, sweet potato biscuits and Virginia ham and orange cranberry scones.

On a full stomach and musical high, festivalgoers will gain an appreciation for “how interesting and modern and relatable” these art forms are, Lawhorn said.

Who could say “no” to this?

Information about performances, tickets, directions and fine dining can be found [here]( [gallery ids="101395,154101,154081,154097,154092,154087" nav="thumbs"]

Serendipity 3’s ‘I Cannot Tell A Lie’ Sundae for July 4th

With the Fourth of July soon upon us, it’s time to start celebrating. In honor of Independence Day, Serendipity 3 and its sister restaurant in New York City are featuring a delicious, patriotic-themed sundae through July 11 — the “I Cannot Tell A Lie” Sundae. It combines two of the best American classics: pie and ice cream. This special sundae layers cherry pie, vanilla ice cream, and whipped cream. Capped off with blue and red sprinkles, a maraschino cherry and a white chocolate lollypop, it’s one sweet deal. [gallery ids="101366,152839,152835" nav="thumbs"]