Stop! Thief! On a Bike?

April 11, 2016

A thief on a bicycle struck thrice in Georgetown on Tuesday, Oct. 29. The suspect, described as a young, thin, black male, aboard a dark bicycle, began his spree at 5:30 p.m. on the 1600 block of Wisconsin Avenue.

The first victim stood on the sidewalk with phone and wallet in hand. She didn’t have time to think before the thief rode by, snatching both items.

About an hour later, the thief made an attempt at a second snatching but met some strong, successful opposition. The 15 year-old target had his iPhone plucked from his hand. When he lunged for the tire, however, he successfully flipped the bike and grabbed his cell from the ground before the bicyclist took off.

Ten minutes later, the thief struck again. This time he targeted Danielle Lake, 26, as she stood waiting for her bus at M and Thomas Jefferson Streets. “A guy riding a bicycle just snatched the phone out of my hand,” said Lake. Her iPhone 4S was gone in a flash. She yelled for someone to stop the man, but no one did.

Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier warned citizens: “In cities around the country, the robbery and theft of small personal electronics is driving an increase in crime as thieves target unattended small electronics in cars, pockets, purses and on tabletops.”

Individuals are encouraged to pocket cell phones and wallets, keeping them out of reach of potential thievery – and to stay alert of their surroundings.

‘New Europe’ Restaurant in Town: Capitol Prague

January 16, 2015

Georgetowners craving a modern twist on Europe’s cuisines need go no farther than the intersection of M and Potomac. Capitol Prague, a quaint restaurant and café duo, presents delectable European fare in the heart of the town.
Owners Bohumil Foist and Jaroslav Bosnovic, residing in the D.C., area and Slovakia, respectively, opened the eatery in May 2013. They brought on general manager Lucia Davila, a Slovak Georgetowner to personally represent the restaurant’s roots.
“It is the first restaurant of its kind in Georgetown,” Davila said. While Capitol Prague specializes in Czech dishes, it is expanding its menu to include a variety of nontraditional European favorites. “We’re more than goulash,” Davila said. “We want to have a little bit of everything.”
The restaurant is featuring Oktoberfest selections, available through the end of the month, as well as its on-going lunch combos and weekday happy hour. Choices include beef stuffed potato dumplings, beer braised pork and more. Happy hour consists of appetizers, chef’s specials, European wines, authentic Czech and Slovak beers – especially world-renowned Czechvar beer — and specialty cocktails at reduced prices. It is not limited to October and can be enjoyed 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Lunch deals began when Capitol Prague began serving lunch in September. Guests can mix and match different menu items. One can enjoy soup or salad with half a sandwich for just $9.99, or a hefty meal of soup or salad with Czech sliders or an entrée, plus coffee and dessert for just $19.99. More combinations exist, and hungry passersby are encouraged to stop in to mix and match as they please.
Georgetowner staffers walked across M Street to savor a dine-in lunch experience at Capitol Prague, close to the newspaper’s office.
We stuffed ourselves with smooth, flavored Illy coffee, large-portioned appetizers and lunch entrees. We nestled into comfortable beige seats and ordered a very rich steak tartar and potato pancakes topped with fresh, crunchy red cabbage as starters. We sampled the melt-in-your-mouth goulash as well as the halušky, an authentic Slovak potato spaetzle topped with smoked bacon and bryndza cheese. The halušky turned out to be a collective favorite.
Despite having different food preferences, we were each able to order entrees to our liking. A traditional veal schnitzel with grilled asparagus proved a bit too much to finish after appetizers and samples. The vegetarian relished every last bite of a refreshingly light buffalo mozzarella salad with avocado, drizzled with a balsamic reduction.

Hefty appetizers and entrees left no room for dessert, but we had sampled them earlier in the month. For anyone craving something sweet, options include a fruit parfait, sweet crepes, strudel, traditional bread pudding and rum-infused sponge cake.
Up the avenue, Glover Park has the venerable Old Europe Restaurant, which we also like. But Georgetown now has its own “New Europe” restaurant, Capitol Prague.

Go get a taste of Europe, and check out the Oktoberfest specials before November rolls around.

Draft’s Defensive Team: Lung Cancer Awareness

February 27, 2014

“Almost nobody knows that November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month,” said Chris Draft, former linebacker for the Washington Redskins. “It’s not just a smoker’s disease. Anyone can get lung cancer.”

Draft’s wife, Keasha, a nonsmoker, was one such victim. She was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in December 2010. The couple then launched Team Draft at their wedding in November 2011. One month later, Keasha lost her fight to lung cancer at age 38.

Lung cancer kills more people than breast, prostate, colon, liver, kidney and melanoma cancers combined. Yet many people remain frighteningly unaware of the disease. The stigma that it is “a smoker’s disease” has negatively impacted the amount of personal and financial support dedicated to lung cancer research.

Chris Draft has made it his mission to educate the public about lung cancer. He is the leader of the Chris Draft Family Foundation, which has a specific lung cancer initiative, Team Draft. This organization is leading a national campaign to “Change the Face of Lung Cancer.”

The personal inspiration of the foundation drives Draft to visit cancer centers around the country — he’s been to about 90 so far — and to advocating and to educate.

“We’re fighting for people and creating hope,” Draft said. “We focus on the survivors, bringing images of their smiles and laughter — those are the faces of lung cancer.”

Team Draft is carrying out a Survivor at Every Stadium initiative, which launched last year. The goal is to focus on survivors of the disease, educating attendees of sporting events nationwide.

On Nov. 4, Team Draft dubbed the Monday night football game — the Green Bay Packers vs. the Chicago Bears — a Lung Cancer Awareness Game. Lung cancer survivors helped raised the American flag at the beginning of the game and were recognized in the fourth quarter.

Draft was at the John P. Murtha Cancer Center at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Nov. 6. The Murtha Center at Walter Reed partnered with Team Draft, the Department of Veterans, Lung Cancer Alliance and the Vietnam Veterans of America to hold its second annual Lung Cancer Screening Initiative. Veterans or beneficiaries were evaluated for lung cancer risk.

“Early detection, in any cancer, is the best first step,” Draft said. “Because of early detection, more people are living longer and living stronger.”

“We will continue to advocate for this stigmatized disease, continue to support survivors, and continue to educate people,” he said. Team Draft continued its work at the Nov. 10 Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars game, another Lung Cancer game, to keep on spreading the word. “We hope to change the face of lung cancer,” Draft said.

El Centro: a Mexican Reconquest

The insides of 1218 Wisconsin Ave., NW, have been totally altered. The Third Edition has been booted and replaced by a second edition of El Centro, a restaurant featuring tacos, tequila and more. Most of the menu items match those of the original Richard Sandoval restaurant, located on 14th Street, NW. About 40 percent of the items are new, however. Restaurant guests will find fajitas on this menu, as well as new taco and enchilada options.

Four Georgetowner staffers got a chance to taste-test and see El Centro during its grand-opening week Sept. 6. The friendliness of the initial greet matched the lively crowd.
The décor mimics the original El Centro’s style, both restaurants embracing a Mexico City theme. The restaurant is very dim, illuminated only by dark turquoise windows and small candles upon the wooden tabletops.
We promptly ordered the spicy mango and regular margaritas, and the paloma was given high notes from its recipient: our list including fruity, spicy and regular margaritas, palomas, mojitos and Coronas.

After devouring handfuls of chips and exceptional salsa, we ordered two types of guacamole. Avocado fanatics will not get bored at El Centro as the menu kicks off with four different kinds of guacamole. The tuna tartare and spicy crab were our picks.

Appetizers next! We each got one, and sharing ensued. Our orders included ceviche, a shrimp and citrus soup, pork sopas, mushroom empanadas and chicken tamales. The table found the ceviche all right, but the rest of the items got higher marks.
Our entrees came out with top-notch presentation: steak, pork carnitas, chipotle shrimp, and mushroom huarache.

The steak arrived garnished with peppers and onions with a cornhusk-wrapped tamale on the side. All traces of steak were gone at the end of the meal, thanks to a very content eater.

Another at the table enjoyed the pork carnitas, a chef’s favorite. Guacamole, habanero salsa, Mexican rice and charro beans were sent out as toppings, while tortillas sat beside the plate in a heating dish. The carnita recipient loved her meal, with the exception of the very salty beans. She had enough food left over to pack up and take some home.

Chipotle shrimp came out atop richly vegetable-induced rice. The shrimp were big and fresh, unlike the shrimp in the ceviche. There was enough for her to take some home, too.

I had chosen mushroom huarache, a small mushroom and goat cheese pizza, basically, from the relatively short list of vegetarian options. My meal was delicious, despite the crust being a little hard. I was able to comfortably finish my food even after having eaten so much beforehand.

Despite our being full and some having leftovers, my group did not pass on dessert. We ordered tres leche and churros. The tres leche, a moist sponge cake topped with bananas and cream, came with fruity custard on the side. I enjoyed the cake more than the thin churros that came with chocolate, caramel and passion fruit dipping sauces.

After hoisting ourselves from our chairs, we ventured upstairs to check out the bigger bar and the balcony. The balcony overlooks an open lower patio, lit by strings of white lights. This area, weather permitting, has the best eye appeal of the entire restaurant.

We stopped in the upstairs bathroom before parting. It is worth noting. While there are two doors, which are unmarked but could be mistaken for gender-specific entrances, there is only one room. It contains six stalls, three on each side. There are sinks and water barrels in the center, and the two halves of the bathroom are set up as mirror images of one another. An illusion! You think you are staring into a mirror while washing your hands, until someone, who might be of the opposite sex, walks out of a stall right across from you. Surprise! Never a fan of waiting in long lines at ladies’ room and watching men walk in and out of their room, I am a fan of this genderless setup. El Centro might end up being awarded “Best Bathroom in D.C.,” or it might make some patrons uncomfortable.

A first, unofficial review of El Centro? In a nutshell, it has an eager, helpful staff, succulent food and delicious drinks. Stop by El Centro at Wisconsin & M. It looks like it will be a hit. And don’t forget to check out the bathroom. [gallery ids="101447,153651" nav="thumbs"]

District Council Votes for Big Minimum-Wage Raise

December 12, 2013

The D.C. Council unanimously passed a bill to hike the city’s minimum wage. On Dec. 3, the 13-member council voted to increase it to $11.50 an hour by 2016; this would be one of the highest minimum wages in the country and much greater than the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

The bill, called the Minimum Wage Amendment Act of 2013, would work gradually, raising the wage to $9.50 on July 1, 2014, to $10.15 on July 1, 2015, and to $11.50 on July 1, 2016.

Lawmakers recently approved similar minimum wage boosts in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland. These counties aim to raise minimum wage in increments, ending in 2017.

One more vote is required before the D.C. bill falls into Mayor Vincent Gray’s hands. Gray has voiced his opposition, desiring a smaller increase to $10 an hour.
“The bill, in its current form, will harm District’s regional competitiveness,” Gray wrote in a letter to the council.

Gray already voted against particular minimum wages increases earlier this year. In September, he vetoed the Large Retailer Accountability Act -– or “Walmart Bill” –that would have forced large retailers to pay employees a minimum of $12.50 an hour. The Walmart Bill, according to Gray, was “not a true living-wage measure.”

With unanimous support within the council, however, the Minimum Wage Amendment Act of 2013 could move forward without Gray’s approval. The council only needs nine votes to override a veto from Gray.

In a related measure, the D.C. Council also voted unanimously to require tipped workers five days of forgiven sick time. Council members believe this will provide more job security for these workers, and will keep sick employees away from the restaurant environment.

At Georgetown, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush Urge Continued Support for Afghan Women

November 25, 2013

Secretary of State John Kerry, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former first lady Laura Bush gathered at Georgetown University Nov. 15 for “Advancing Afghan Women: Promoting Peace and Progress in Afghanistan.” They joined forces to speak to an overflowing Gaston Hall about the importance in continuing to support and assist the advancement of Afghan women.

The event kicked off with greetings from Georgetown University President John DeGioia, who showed a movie featuring real Afghan women sharing their success stories. The audience heard about girls having greater access to school than ever before and Afghan women becoming more prominent in the business world.

The video was followed by remarks by Clinton who, in addition to being a former first lady and former Secretary of State, is the U.S. Afghan Women’s Council honorary co-chair and a supporter of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace & Security.

Clinton spoke of the need for a society to engage all of its members. “Men and women are like two wings on the same bird,” she said. This became a reoccurring image throughout the program.

John Kerry, the 68th Secretary of State and supporter of the cause, took the stage after Clinton. He spoke of the many different levels of success that have been achieved in Afghanistan since 2001, and the terrible regression that would take place if efforts came to a halt. “What has been achieved is nothing less than remarkable,” he said. “It would have been more than a tragedy if the world ever allowed this progress to be threatened or, worse yet, to be abandoned.”

The crowd then heard from Anita Haidary, a young Afghan woman and co-founder of Young Women for Change. She spoke of growing up in Afghanistan, being an exchange student in California, her strides for change upon returning to her homeland, and the importance of advocating for Afghan women.

A conversation between Bush and Clinton then took place, moderated by Melanne Verveer, executive director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, and former U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues. Bush and Clinton both voiced worries about the future of Afghanistan. “I fear that once our troops leave,” said Bush, “the eyes of Americans will move away.” Bush and Clinton say they’re going to continue to spread the word and make sure that, when American troops leave Afghanistan in 2014, the Afghan women will not be abandoned.

The speakers, Kerry especially, made it clear that each person in Gaston Hall could make a difference in the futures of Afghan women. Assistance and advocacy are not limited to prominent political figures, and everyone can help to ensure Afghan women have access to education and other life-improving opportunities. “Our responsibility is clear,” said Kerry. “We need to make sure that they succeed… And making that happen is going to take every single one of us.”

The event was put together by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council, the George W. Bush Institute and the Alliance to Support the Afghan People.
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A New Way to ‘Vanquish’ Stubborn Body Fat

November 18, 2013

Imagine a heating pad that can blast away fat in just 30 minutes. Sound too good to be true? Well, not only does the technology exist, but it’s right here in Washington, D.C. The newest non-invasive solution in body contouring, Vanquish, can be achieved at DC Derm Docs on L Street.

Marilyn Berzin, M.D., and Dale Isaacson, M.D., who run DC Derm Docs, held a special reception Nov. 6 to introduce this latest technology. They and their downtown office have been featured in Washingtonian Magazine, ABC7 News and more. Derm Docs is the first to offer Vanquish in the D.C. area.

“It is very exciting technology,” said Berzin, who, like Isaacson, has received Vanquish treatments.

Unlike other non-invasive fat reduction methods, Vanquish produces immediate results. Liz, a patient at DC Derm Docs, was pleased with her post-Vanquish body. “I saw results right away, but they weren’t dramatic,” she said. “The results were more dramatic with each additional treatment,” she added.

Results will vary depending on the person. If patients undergo the recommended four treatments, spaced about a week apart, everyone should get results. “You’ll get at least an inch,” Isaacson said. “But I’ve seen an average of 2.5 to 3.5 inches lost in those receiving four treatments,” he added, referring to patients receiving Vanquish around the waist. Also, unlike other procedures, Vanquish can target the belly and love handle areas in a single half-hour session. Other common focus areas are back pockets and saddlebags.

Vanquish utilizes radio frequency to melt away a layer of fat cells, without even touching the patient’s body. Patients will not experience pain, but rather heat, redness and, perhaps, some swelling. The machine literally burns the fat cells, killing and leaving them to be excreted in the urine. For this reason, patients are told to drink plenty of water, at least two liters, in the day before, of and after treatment.

Liz talked to The Georgetowner, while undergoing her fourth Vanquish treatment: “It feels like a heating pad,” she said. “In my other treatments, I brought a book and came in before heading to the office,” she added.

The ideal Vanquish patient is someone who has a few stubborn inches to lose. If diet and exercise just aren’t working, or if there is an upcoming special occasion, maybe Vanquish is the answer.

DC Derm Docs charges $550 per session for the first four sessions and additional treatments are only $350. Shelling out $2,200 for a slimmer waist? Pain-free? Without diet and exercise? Somebody pinch me.
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For New Gallery, Proof Is in the Artist

November 15, 2013

Artist’s Proof, a gallery with a unique compilation of artists and styles, opened Oct. 19 in Cady’s Alley.

The gallery is dedicated mostly to contemporary art, but it really does not cater to a particular style. Instead, its main focus is the stories shared by the artists.

Gallery owner Peggy Sparks, who knows each artist personally, places the utmost emphasis on the stories behind the works. She will lead gallery guests through the space, passionately explaining the personal journey of each artist. ”It’s not just art on white walls,” says Sparks. ”It’s a conversation.”

The pieces within Artist’s Proof range from geometric to chaotic and black and white to explosively colorful. There are two-dimensional works on canvas and three-dimensional wooden and bronze pieces. The place currently carries works by a variety of international artists, including Jean-Francois Debongnie, Hunter Hogan, and Fred BergerCardi.

Before settling in Washington, D.C., a year ago, Sparks took time to visit the major art cities of the United States, spending extra time in Boulder, Colo. She’s worked internationally in cities such as Shanghai, Dubai, and her homeland of Singapore.

Sparks has worked in the art world for the past ten years. She didn’t expect to end in this industry, having originally studied linguistics. But when she took a job in an art gallery upon graduating college, she ”starting falling in love with the works.”

Since her move to Washington, D.C., Sparks has worked on the gallery opening.

”This is the fastest I could get it open,” she says, adding that she is concerned more about the guest’s in-gallery experience, rather than the amount of pieces a guest ends up purchasing. Her first and most important goal, she says, is for ”people to leave the gallery with their hearts filled.”

Sparks plans to hold an event on Dec. 8, she says, tentatively called ”Lazy Sunday.” Mosey on over to Artist’s Proof, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., that day, for art appreciation and adult beverages.

SweetFrog Yogurt Opens on Wisconsin Avenue

November 7, 2013

Georgetown welcomes the capital’s very first sweetFrog Premium Frozen Yogurt. The pay-by-the-ounce, fully customized desserts can be found at 1737 Wisconsin Ave., NW, at the corner of S Street. SweetFrog offers more than 20 froyo flavors and a considerable variety of topping selections. The Georgetown location opened for business on Oct. 20.

“SweetFrog is frozen yogurt your way. You determine what goes in your cup, so every creation is perfect,” said James Denison, public relations associate for the company. At sweetFrog, customers are invited to be creative, mix and match their favorite flavors and top them with exactly what they want.

SweetFrog has expanded to more than 300 stores in the U.S., England and the Caribbean since its original opening in Richmond, Va., in 2009. The Daily Meal recently named sweetFrog “America’s Best Frozen Yogurt.”

Storeowners David and Elliot Staley are happy to bring the taste to Georgetown and say, “Our goal is for the store to serve as a fun and uplifting environment for the whole family to enjoy.”

Chef Duo, the Shields, to Set Up Restaurant on Potomac Street

October 31, 2013

Chef duo and married couple John and Karen Urie Shields is looking to open a new restaurant, and they have their eyes locked on a Georgetown location. The two left their former, acclaimed Town House in Chilhowie, Va., over a year ago in order to pursue a Washington, D.C., spot. After a lengthy search, the couple has taken a strong interest in 1050 Potomac St., NW, and plans to sign the lease within the week.

The new undertaking, which has not yet been named, will be a Town House follow-up. It will, therefore, feature a menu heavy in vegetable and marine options.

Before taking on the Town House, John and Karen Shields were well renowned in Chicago for their work at Charlie Trotter’s as sous-chef and head pastry chef, respectively. John Shields later worked as sous-chef at Alinea in Chicago and was listed on Food & Wine’s “Best New Chefs in 2010.”

The two were brought on to assist with a revamping of Town House in 2008 by its co-owners Kyra and Tom Bishop. The Shields turned the Town House around, leaving it a booming hot spot in Chilhowie, which is west of Roanoke.

But now they’re set on Washington, DC. “I’ve always loved D.C.,” John Shields has said. “It’s got a great vibe.”

The space they’re eying consists of an outdoor patio as well as carriage house, allowing more space for restaurant guests.

Assuming the couple does sign the lease, a grand opening would, realistically, still lie nine months to a year down the road.