December 2011

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December 1, 2011

By Sharon Bosworth

Try Barracks Row Before You Drive

For some of us the holiday season is a time to unplug from career demands and spend time with friends and family. But for Barracks Row business owners December is the month that can make or break the year. During winter our restaurants typically lose one third of their seats when cold weather forces owners to abandon their distinctive sidewalk cafés. And our retailers miss the foot traffic generated by those patios. But Barracks Row retailers and restaurants, old and new alike, are adapting to the challenges of winter by moving the action inside with spectacular seasonal surprises.

Hats and Scarves and Sprinkles Galore

Erin Mara, one of the owners of Homebody, 715 8th Street, SE, known for contemporary furniture and house wares just announced the arrival of a collection of outerwear accessories for men and women:     “We sell fashion T shirts in the summer, so we decided to sell scarves, hats and gloves this winter for everyone in the family- including our line of Momma’s Hats.” Turns out Mara’s business partner, Henriette Fourcade has a mother who loves to knit and has produced a line of adorable crochet winter hats for the store.  Just for men there is also the best selling Samurai umbrella, styled from a Samurai sword to conquer winter gales. Wake up family members on bitter mornings with a cup of their favorite brew produced by ultra-fast electronic tea kettles for hot chocolate, teas and smart coffee presses – all found in Homebody’s new, museum-like Bodum Shop-Within- a- Shop.

At Hill’s Kitchen, 713 D Street, SE, owner Leah Daniels has a store full of must-haves for easy, at-home entertaining this winter. Shelves are full of holiday paper napkins and decorative paper towels to add festive sparkle to your get- togethers either at home or office. There’s even a line of chocolate Advent calendars and chocolate Gelt .  If cookie making is one of your family traditions Daniels store is brimming with handsome mixing bowls, cookie cutters and sprinkles galore.

Barracks Row Restaurants Become Holiday Dining Rooms

In turn-of-the-century Capitol Hill homes finding space for celebrating with visiting generations can be a challenge but Barracks Row restaurants are here to serve as magical dining room extenders.  For the largest families there are accommodating second floor spaces at Lavagna Ristorante Italiano, 539 8th Street, SE; Match Box, 521 8th Street, SE; Cava Mezze, 527 8th Street, SE; Molly Malone’s, 713 8th Street, SE; Lola’s,  711 8th Street, SE; Trattoria Alberto, 506 8th Street, SE and Banana Café, 500 8th Street, SE. George Aggelis, one of the owners of Cava Mezze suggests early evening dining is best for big family or office groups; calling in advance with a heads up for his staff is really helpful, too. Cava’s charming upstairs gallery is already reserved for some December weekends so call George soon (202-543-9090) if feasting Greek- style with your clan is on your holiday wish list.

For moderate size groups our restaurants can adapt at a moment’s notice linking up tables so everyone in the party can see each other and hear the toasts.  At Lavagna Ristorante Italiano, the second floor can seat over 40 diners for a private party or several large family groups on the same evening in a semi private atmosphere. There’s even another space at Lavagna to consider: the intriguing, twelve-seat, back area on the first floor divided from the main restaurant with beguiling velvet drapery. Lavagna’s owner Stephen Cheung noted his team’s winning approach: “Our staff has created affordable private dining packages with special menus and no room fees. We’re booking up fast.”

 

Relax, Shop Local - Buy Local

If you find the rounds of holiday parties and family gatherings stressful, we have a cure for you on Barracks Row. A number of 8th Street enterprises are focused on delivering short term relaxation, offering well known stress busters and luxurious personal maintenance regimens during the whirl of the holidays.  At Skin Beauty Lounge, 404 8th Street, SE, owner Meka Mathis is ready with facials and Swedish massage at very special prices for Hill Rag readers.  Don’t forget, the password to get big savings on these personal treats at Skin Beauty Lounge is to tell Meka you read it in the Hill Rag. Then, three blocks to the south, at Barracks Row’s newest business, A List Nails, 739 8th Street, SE, owner IveeTrac is offering Grand Opening specials this December on manicure, pedicure, waxing, eyelash extensions and reflexology massage. Go to www.a-listnail spa.com for details on these amazing deals. And, share the bliss with a friend: both Skin Beauty Lounge and A List Nails also offer gift certificates.

Last week, our Barracks Row businesses kicked off the 2011 Christmas shopping season with “Small Business Saturday” on November 26, the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  “Small Business Saturday,”  the small business response to Chain Store’s “Black Friday,” was endorsed by none other than credit card giant American Express, which again this year , came forward to support small, local businesses nationwide with a $25 gift certificate for everyone using their American Express Cards at small businesses that day.

At Barracks Row Main Street we agree with American Express; we believe Shop Local is an idea whose time has come. Our 8th Street businesses are determined to build on the national momentum to Shop Local by making sure you have exactly what you’re shopping for this December right here, minutes from your front door. Like all small businesses everywhere in the country, the businesses on our corridor ask only that before spending hours in traffic driving to suburban malls, shop here first. Our dedicated business owners, most of whom live right in our community, have spent months making plans to meet your expectations, to keep you on the corridor all holiday season and beyond.  It’s been years in the making but here in the shadow of the Capitol dome there is very smart pricing and a rich selection goods and services perfect for our urban life style. This year, shop local; try Barracks Row before you drive!