Friday, August 31, 2012

Shaw and DC Open House Schedule 9/1-9/2, 2012

In this link are the Open Houses in Shaw for the Labor Day Weekend, 2012  Below is the link for all D.C. Open Houses (below).  CALL (202)-441-1757 if you have any questions about the properties.


Here is a link for all of the Open Houses in D.C. this weekend (alphabetically grouped by neighborhood):  Open Houses, Grouped by Neighborhood for D.C.

CALL 202.441.1757 for questions about these properties, or advice about the home-buying process.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Shaw and DC Open House Schedule 8/25-8/26

In this link are the Open Houses in Shaw for the weekend of August 25th to August 26th, 2012.  Below is the link for all D.C. Open Houses (below).  CALL (202)-441-1757 if you have any questions about the properties.

Here is a link for all of the Open Houses in D.C. this weekend (alphabetically grouped by neighborhood):  Open Houses, Grouped by Neighborhood for D.C.

CALL 202.441.1757 for questions about these properties, or advice about the home-buying process.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Open Houses in Shaw and All of D.C. August 18th - 19th

In this link are the Open Houses in Shaw for the weekend of August 18th to August 19th, 2012.  Also included is the link for all D.C. Open Houses (below).  CALL (202)-441-1757 if you have any questions about the properties.

Here is a link for all of the Open Houses in D.C. this weekend (alphabetically grouped by neighborhood):  Open Houses, Grouped by Neighborhood for D.C.

CALL 202.441.1757 for questions about these properties, or advice about the home-buying process.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Shaw Expert REALTOR® Interviews Derek Brown of The Passenger

As a Real Estate Agent in D.C., VA, and MD, in addition to selling houses and helping people find their home, I feel it is my duty to connect to the Shaw neighborhood around me.  In this interview, I speak with Derek Brown, Owner of the highly acclaimed bar(s), The Passenger (Located on 1021 7th Street, NW)  (Photos courtesy of Jim Webb)

Kevin:  Derek, before we get into the content of your bars, let’s start with a little bit about yourself, if you wouldn’t mind.

Derek:  Sure.  I was born in D.C. and raised in Maryland.  I have a lot of love for D.C. and I think it is a great, great city.

Kevin:  How did you become interested in the bar scene?

Derek:  I started bartending 10 years ago and fell in love with the profession.  In a broader sense I love spirits and alcohol, and I love what they do for a community.  Now, some people see the negative effects of alcohol—which there can be—yet the reality is that a community celebrates, mourns, converses, and shares experiences around alcohol:  many of these experiences bring people together.

Kevin:  So you kept that in mind when choosing to build your own bar?

Derek:  When we built The Passenger, the environment we wanted to host was not confined to partying.  We wanted the bar to be a centerpiece for the community.  Bars get stigmatized for being party-centers, and bars are definitely a place to celebrate, but they are so much more.  For example, I met my wife at a bar!  And people say, “Oh you can’t meet your future partner at bars anymore.”  But it happens!  Another example:  the idea for The Passenger was created over drinks while my brother and I were at a bar.  Business happens over drinks.  Socializing obviously happens over drinks.  So, I love bars because they allow a community the space to make it the community’s own.  You know, we are a district identity bar for a reason:  “God Save the District” is on the window for a reason.  We care about this city.  

Kevin:  Why was The Passenger built?

Derek:  I had been working as a bartender and then sommelier in some of D.C.’s best restaurants.  I really enjoyed the experience.  About three years ago the opportunity to own my own restaurant greeted me and... I have not looked back.  That being said, it’s a hard job.  Many people idealize the position of owning your own bar as something glamorous.  Well, to set the record straight, you basically become the head busboy (laughs).  It’s hard work, [but] it’s good work.  

Kevin:  What are the dynamics like working with your brother as a business partner?

Derek:  My brother and I get along great.  We bring different things to the business because we are both different people.  You know, I am more “book-ish” whereas he’s the guy with all the tattoos (laughs).  Since our personalities are so different, we engineered two different spaces within one:  The Passenger and The Columbia Room.  Bottom line?  We both have the same ultimate goal:  making customers happy.  

Kevin:  Regarding spirits, when did your interest transform into a study?

The Passenger

Derek:  The first moment I stepped behind a bar everything changed.  I love the spontaneity, creativity, history and social interaction from behind the bar  All of these dynamics translated into my dream job.  I guess I really began to lean toward the profession when, during my seven-year college-plan, I started studying more about bartending and cocktails than I did for school. And I did well in school.

Kevin:  What were you studying in school?

Derek:  Anthropology, which is a great discipline to apply to this job.  Moreover, the job itself is an ongoing study in anthropology.

Kevin:  Anthropologists study the diversity of human nature and the relativity of cultures.  How do you allow your bar to proliferate an inclusive environment?

Derek:  Well, that’s funny because bars can host so many different personas.  You know, you had bars near the steel mills in Pennsylvania for steel workers and you have bars in New York City for intellectuals and writers.  Bars can easily draw a certain crowd.  We wanted to create an atmosphere which allowed people to make the space their own.  Make it your own.  You can talk about a New Yorker article or you can come in after a hard day’s work with a beer and a shot to refresh.  The only time our bar feels one way or another is Friday and Saturday nights.  The entire rest of the week our customers make it their own.  That’s what we want.

Derek Brown in the Columbia Room
Kevin:  Having interviewed the owners of 1905, Seasonal Pantry, SUNdeVICH, and other great businesses in Shaw, there is a reoccurring theme of unpretentious pride and unpretentious communication that makes people feel comfortable and allows them the potential to make it their own.

Derek:  All of those businesses are great.  Shaw is like that.  That’s the beauty of Shaw.  We all have a lot of respect for each other and we’re laid back.  I hope that continues.

Kevin:  Why did you choose Shaw?

Derek:  Truthfully by its opportunity.  Paul Ruppert already had this space.  It was the Warehouse Theater.  Before that, it was a hardware store dating back to the 1890s owned by the Rupperts.  That is pretty significant.  So anyway, we had this opportunity and we took the space.  At first we were really scared.  We were nervous about too few people showing up.  Then we opened, and Shaw just poured through the doors.  Looking back now it’s easy to see how na├»ve we were.  We weren’t aware initially, but eventually we became aware of the people involved in this renaissance, like Alex Padro (Chair of ANC 2C), who have been laying the seeds for Shaw’s growth for so many years.  Shaw has amazing people.  We were lucky to establish The Passenger when we did.  

Kevin:  So please make this clear for anyone who may be reading the blog who has not visited The Passenger.  It’s one space, and you have two main bars inside that space (The Passenger and The Columbia Room) but you also have two more bars in addition to that (The Vegas Room and The Train Car).
The Train Car
Derek:  Right.  Our space is basically divided into two bars:  The Columbia Room and The Passenger.  The Vegas Room is a much smaller component within The Passenger.

Kevin:  Why is it called The Vegas Room?

Derek:  Originally we used it to count the money there at the end of the night, and it also had a poster of Vegas.  I still can’t believe it, but someone stole the poster!

Kevin:  They probably thought money was behind it (laughs).

Derek:  The Train Car developed into a cool concept only after we pondered for a while about what to do with such a peculiar space.  At first, we weren’t sure what to do with such a thin room.  Then we decided to make paired seating for a more intimate environment.  It’s a great date spot on the weekends.  When people see it, the light bulb goes off as to why it’s called “The Train Car.”  The Columbia Room is much more of a service-oriented environment, like a “chef’s table.”  It’s more personalized.

Kevin:  The Wall Street Journal talks about you using a thermometer when you make some of your drinks.

Derek:  29-31 degrees Fahrenheit! (laughs).  Yeah, it’s part of my nature to be scientific with things.  I remember when I started bartending 11 years ago and wondering, “Who is the greatest bartender?  What makes the best Martini?”  Well, paying particular attention to the minutia of things absolutely plays its part.  After traveling extensively through America, Europe, and part of East Asia, I have met many “best bartenders.”  I think it’s a worthwhile goal to aspire to the craft that some of these masters have perfected.  I remember when I sat down for the first time with a dry martini:  gin, vermouth, and bitters.  I just thought, “Wow, this is exceptional.”  And in my Aristotelian nature, I believe there is something called “perfect” and it is possible to attain through drinks.  I have been trying to perfect the dry martini for some time.  I’ve gotten close.

Kevin:  While reading over some other interviews in which you partook, it seems you hold Japanese bartenders in high esteem.

Derek:  Japan has some incredible bartenders.  Just incredible. There were three bars in particular that just blew me away.  The care, and level of attention to detail, was amazing.  That being said, I still believe America has the best bartenders.  There’s some national pride in my hunch here, but I know we have the best overall.

Kevin:  How do cultures present different styles behind the bar?

Derek:  Well, for example, in Japan their hospitality is so impressive.  In America, there is the distinct swagger of the bartenders.  You know, bartenders have to be smart because, ultimately, you are in a corner—a fishbowl—sometimes surrounded by really big drunk people.  And you have to tell them “NO” sometimes.  And that isn’t easy (laughs).  Other cultures are different.  Japan doesn’t have swagger, per se…it has exemplary service.

Kevin:  What do you get out of your traveling?

Derek:  There are just so many beer, wine, and spirit producers.  Last year I travelled once every month.  I try to see 12 different cities a year.  It’s just a great way to share the products I find elsewhere, continue experimenting with variations on the theme, and get influenced by different types of alcohol (no pun intended).  This year I am going to Cognac, and I guarantee when I get back I’ll just be obsessed with Cognac for months and months.  My friends are always sick of me talking about this stuff (laughs).

Kevin:  What is something most don’t know about the world of alcohol?

Derek:  That the world of liquor is full of crap.  There are so many terrible drinks and over-priced liquors.  That’s why I write for the Atlantic, Op-eds for the Post, and Entrepreneur Magazine:  I constantly want to educate people so they don’t get screwed wasting their money.  You know, $1 out of every $100 in America is spent on alcohol.  What I want our business to do is bring people quality-oriented products so they can enjoy their lives better.

Kevin:  On a final note, what do you want to say to Shaw?  

Derek:  I feel extremely blessed to live in the greatest country in the world, in the best city in the world, and to own a business in the best neighborhood in the world.  That is really what it is about.

Kevin:  Very well said.  One more thing.  Since you have Aristotelian beliefs, and Aristotle had his “immoveable object” as the highest attainable state of mind, do you have an “immovable favorite” for a drink?

Derek:  Oh yeah.  GQ and Time have said that I make the best martini.  It’s because it’s my favorite.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

July 2012 Analysis: DC Metro Area

RealEstate Business Intelligence (RBI) recently posted their article, "Continued Tightening in DC Metro Inventory, Highest July Prices in Five Years."   Here is the analysis:

(The "DC Metro" area comprises Washington D.C., Montgomery County and Prince George's County, MD, and Alexandria City, Arlington County, Fairfax City and County, and Falls Church, VA)

Headline from Report:  Active Listings are at their lowest level in seven years.  Year-over-year, there was a decrease of 35.4% in active listings.  With inventory sparse, buyers have been forced to compete more aggressively to secure properties.  The median days-on-market is 23 days (get ready to present an offer quick buyers!) and the sale-to-list-price ratio is the highest it's been since 2006, at 96.3% (low-balling the seller is history for the time being).



What Seems "Scary?"
Sale of units are down from last month.

Why It's Not Scary:
Why is this news acceptable?  Though sale numbers have dropped from June to July, year-over-year sales have increased for the month of July for four consecutive years.  The month of July 2012 had a 5.1% increase since July 2011 of units sold.  Also, July usually exhibits slower growth compared to other months in the year.  The 10 year average of June to July change in number-of-units-sold is -9.5%  This year exhibited the familiar, with the expected drop of 10.7% decrease in number-of-units sold from June 2012 to July 2012.


What Seems "Scary?"
The median sale price dropped $15,000 from June.

Why It's Not Scary:
 Median sale prices are the highest July sale prices in five years, and rose 2.8% from 2011.

What Seems "Scary?"
Growth in new contracts has slowed.

Why It's Not Scary:
"The townhouse and condo markets posted year-over-year growth in new contracts of 4.0 percent and 6.0 percent respectively.  This is the 15th consecutive year-over-year gain for the condo market, which continues to enjoy strong demand based on lower price points, escalating rents in the region, and easier financing.  New contracts on detached properties fell by 4.4 percent from this time last year."  (This quote is pulled directly from the RBI Report).

What Should Sellers Do?  Take note that year-over-year sales are up, and the low inventory is a great way to attract more buyers since there is less competition for you.  Call me about listing your property (202) 441-1757.

What Should Buyers Do?  Get ready for a competitive and aggressive search process.  Call me if you are looking to find a property (202) 441-1757.

For any questions regarding the information presented above, please email, or call (202) 441-1757.  

(Information Soured from RBI Intel)

D.C. Real Estate Agent Interviews Doug Povich, Owner of the Red HookLobster Truck

As a Real Estate Agent in D.C., VA, and MD, in addition to selling houses and helping people find their home, I feel it is my duty to connect to the neighborhood around me.  In this interview, I speak with Doug Povich, Owner of the Red Hook Lobster Truck. (Photos Courtesy of Red Hook Lobster Truck)

Kevin:  Doug,what were you doing before the truck?

Doug:  Beforethe truck my full-time profession was what it still is:  I’m apartner at Squire Sanders LLP.  I have a partner, Leland Morris, whoruns the day-to-day food truck operations.

Kevin:  Howdid the idea for the Red Hook Lobster Truck come to fruition?

Doug:  Myfamily is originally from Maine.  My cousin Susan and herhusband Ralph live in Brooklyn, New York.  Red Hook, Brooklyn,to be exact.  A few years back they were tossing around the idea ofwhat to do with a storefront they owned.   Ralph came up with an idea,saying “Why don’t I drive up to Maine, fill up my truck with live, fresh lobsterand we can bring it back to Brooklyn and sell it on the weekends?”  Theyboth kind of pondered the idea and decided to give it a try.  

Kevin:  Andwas it successful?

Doug:  Everyload of lobster sold out in a day and a half.  It was immensely popularbecause it was so fresh.  

Kevin:  Sohow did their business reach you in the form of a truck?

Doug:  Inaddition to the storefront, Susan and Ralph started selling lobster rollsat the Brooklyn Flea Market.  They received great reviews andinterest from their customers.   One day Susan and I were talking and sheasked me if I wanted to help expand the business to DC.  I told her I hada full-time job but that if I could do a food truck.  I knew someone I thoughtcould help.  I approached Leland who was a Culinary Institutegraduate and in food sales, and I asked him:  “Do you have an interest indoing a food truck and bringing the taste of Maine to the folks of DC?”  Andhe said “Well as a matter of fact, yes, I do!”

Kevin:  Andso it began.

Doug:  Yep. Leland is responsible for operations.  I’m responsible for thetrucks and the finances.  It’s a big help to have two sets of expertise -one for the food and another for the trucks.  There are a lot of trucksout there that have just one person.  That’s hard.  There are alot of varying techniques and expertise required.  There isa technical side to a truck, and there is also the cooking aspect whichobviously requires different talent.  Many people try to start trucksand quickly realize it’s an incredible amount of work.

Kevin:  Themaintenance on the trucks must potentially be problematic to business.

Doug:  Thesetrucks break down all the time.  If you are in a position where you onlyhave one truck, and it breaks down for a day, or a week or longer…well, you’llbe out of business in no time.  Regarding the trucks’ maintenance youpretty much need someone on call all the time.

Kevin:  Soyou have more than one truck?

Doug:  Two. We started August 19th, 2010. We started in Farragut Square and there was literally a line aroundthe entire square:  300 people in line waiting for us.  Soldout in a few hours.  So we thought, “Whoa!  We may be on tosomething here!”  Within four months we knew we needed another truck.  Webuilt another truck that winter that was delivered in April the following year. So then we gave ourselves the green light:  two trucks andtrying to sync all the social media possible to make ourselves known.  

Kevin:  Whois actually on the truck during the day?  How does it operate?

Doug:  Duringthe summer months there are four people on the truck:  our Crew Chief; ourGrill-Person (because we grill our buns); our Assembly Individual; and theExpediter.  The Crew Chief deals with all the crazy things that happen outon the streets, which isn’t an easy job (laughs).

Kevin:  Andthe rolls?

Doug:  Wehave two styles of rolls.  We have our “Connecticut style:” warm lobstermeat poached in butter; the other is the traditional “Maine style” lobsterroll, which consists of cold lobster meat lightly dressed in our house-madelemon-based mayonnaise. And we recently introduced our lobster BLT.   Inthe winter we do a clam chowder and we add another person to handle that extraitem on the menu.

Kevin:  Whatabout parking the truck?  Issues there?

Doug:  Underthe current regulations in D.C. right now, you can only parklegally for two hours.  Therefore, we have to be fast withthe food.  We want as many lobster rolls in the hands of customersas possible, so our team on the trucks works hard throughout the day. It’s a fast paced job handling the dynamics inside the truck. 

Kevin:  Whatabout your routes?  Are they planned?

Doug:  Whenwe first started the routes weren’t planned.  The whole operation was morerandom.  As momentum picked up our followers demanded a more regularschedule so we came up with a monthly schedule for one of the trucks. The second truck is half-scheduled on a weekly basis so the rest ofthe stops are wildcard.  That's so when people on Facebook andTwitter say “Hey!  Why don’t you come over to our neighborhood!” we cansay “we’re on our way!”  We need to have some flexibility.

Kevin:  Howmany areas do you cover?

Doug:  Weare permitted in DC, Montgomery County, Fairfax County and Arlington County. We are one of the few trucks that has all three states covered. We are working on getting into Alexandria.

Kevin:  Whatis the stopping Red Hook from getting into Alexandria? 

Doug:  Fromwhat I’ve heard there was an experiment in Alexandria with food carts (nottrucks) that wasn’t great because they limited the carts to existingrestaurants.  We really want to be in Alexandria.  We have openedcommunications with the folks there and that process is underway so we'll see.

Kevin:  Isee.  And what do you think is the most enjoyable part about all of this? 

Doug:  Probablythe instant gratification you get when a customer comes up to the truck andthey are so excited, and they have heard so much about us, and they get theirroll, and they’re ecstatic. It feels great to know you have made someoneexcited about their day.  Also, it’s an excitement that may not be availableto them during their work day (laughs).  I’m also on the Board of the DCFood Truck Association.  That is also very gratifying.  We’ve beenworking with the city rewriting the 30 year old vending regulations which needto be updated.  The Food Truck Association is analogous to an incubatorhelping small businesses grow.  We still have got a ways to go withgetting the powers that be to see the light, but we are cautiously optimisticthe right thing will eventually happen.

Kevin:  Andwhat about the Red Hook Lobster Truck five years from now?

Doug:  Wewould like to expand.  We'd like to be in Alexandria, Baltimore, closer tothe beach, and Annapolis.  Eventually, we'd like to get into a bricks andmortar space.  If I'm going to be able to retire I am going to need abricks and mortar space (laughs).  I also hope we can get someregulations in place soon that will show how mobile vending can be awin-win-win for the city and its residents, workers and visitors: additional revenue for the city through reasonable fees and taxes,providing choices to customers in developed areas and bringing great foodto developing areas that may not have any real choices regardingrestaurants, and helping a new and exciting group of small businessentrepreneurs grow into larger businesses with many employees.  Also,we hope to see our trucks continue to be a part of the social phenomenon offood trucks that contributes to the diverse fabric and vibrancy of the city. So, getting the right regulations in place is paramount, and we hopeto have that soon.
Kevin:  WellDoug, I really appreciate you meeting with me and talking about your business.

Doug:  Thanks,Kevin.  It’s always fun to talk about the truck.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Open Houses for August 11th to 12th, 2012 for Shaw and D.C.

In this link are the Open Houses in Shaw for the weekend of August 11th to August 12th, 2012.  Also included is the link for all D.C. Open Houses (below).  CALL (202)-441-1757 if you have any questions about the properties.

Here is a link for all of the Open Houses in D.C. this weekend (alphabetically grouped by neighborhood):  Open Houses, Grouped by Neighborhood for D.C.

CALL 202.441.1757 for questions about these properties, or advice about the home-buying process.