Bloomingdale Bites - June 2017

Bloomingdale Community Day at Crispus Attucks Park. Photo: Andreas Stargard

Big Bear Is Planning Expansion

Big Bear Cafe, already known for its beautiful patio, is planning to grow its outdoor space. According to an application filed with the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration, Big Bear plans to add rooftop seating for 49 and a second-floor patio that will seat 65. The two new sections will more than double the current capacity and will allow more customers to enjoy the lush corner at First and R streets NW.

When Big Bear Cafe opened in 2006, it was considered a pioneer in Bloomingdale, a place you could walk into for an espresso that was welcomed by the neighbors. The “tucked-in” feel of Big Bear has always been its visual draw.

As other coffee shops and restaurants pop up at lightning speed in the neighborhood, Big Bear is banking on expanding what it does best: combining garden picnic warmth with locally sourced fare. Although there are a lot of options for food in Bloomingdale, there are surprisingly few with significant outdoor seating.

The cafe will have to defend its application at a hearing in mid-July. Owner Stu Davenport could not be reached for comment, but we will continue to follow the progress of the application and subsequent expansion work.

Truxton Inn

Speaking of new neighborhood hotspots, Truxton Inn officially opened at the beginning of May at the corner of Fourth Street and Florida Avenue. The cozy, 50-seat bar is the collaborative effort of the team behind McClellan’s Retreat in Dupont Circle. Owner Matt Weiss of 201 and Union Pub has once again joined forces with rockstar DC restaurateur Joe Englert, the force behind the H Street corridor bar scene as well as many other DC establishments. They are guided by two others who have helped guide their previous concepts: designer Molly Allen and bar manager Brian Nixon (Rose’s Luxury, Le Diplomat).

Walking into the space, there is an instant sense of an Old World feel with hints of modern design. The green marble-top bar and dark leather Chesterfield couches, surrounded by an oddity of antiques, evoke the smoke-filled barrooms of DC past, while providing an updated take on classic cocktails to remind you that this is truly a modern venture.

“We wanted to build an environment where people can just turn off,” explains Nixon. “You shouldn’t have to overthink anything.”

The menu is outlined to help patrons find their new favorite drink, based on classic combinations. It provides “suggestions” of standard drinks, such as a martini or Manhattan, and couples them with “recommendations” with new flavors and flares. If you’re in the mood for a martini but want to taste something new, try the Congressman’s Lunch, a mix of DC-made Civic Vodka, James Fino dried sherry, Cocchi Americano, and Gordy’s Pickle Brine.

It is important to Nixon to use locally distilled brews as much as possible. Currently, Truxton Inn serves Republic Restorative’s Civic Vodka, One Eight Distilling’s District Made Vodka, and Cotton & Reed’s rums and Allspice Dram. Local beers like DC Brau will be on tap for those who don’t feel like a cocktail.

“We need to have a connection to the neighborhood in every way to be successful,” Nixon believes. That includes using local food sources like Republic Kolache, Meats & Foods, and Hill Country to provide a majority of the food to Truxton’s patrons. While food is not the major draw of the venue, it is important to be able to serve local bites that allow customers to continue imbibing.

Truxton Inn fills a void in the current bar scene in Bloomingdale: a high-end cocktail bar without high-end prices. A cocktail will run $11-$13, with some happy hour specials running at $6. Menus will change every two months. What’s the theme for next month? “Tiki drinks,” says Nixon. “You can make a high-end vodka Tiki drink. I will show it can be done.”

Bloomingdale Community Day at Crispus Attucks Park

At the 14th annual Bloomingdale Community Day, held in Crispus Attucks Park, the recent growth of the neighborhood was on display. Organized by the Crispus Attucks Development Corporation (CADC), the day included a Taste of Bloomingdale and a huge community yard sale, an annual event that neighbors have come to rely on as their spring cleaning.

This year, 12 local restaurants participated, including newcomers Tyber Creek and Glen’s Garden Market. Tynesia Hand-Smith, who organized the event, was thrilled at the level of participation. A CADC board member, Hand-Smith has lived in a home adjacent to the park since 2006. “Crispus Attucks Park is truly the defining physical feature of the Bloomingdale landscape, even though it's the hidden gem,” Hand-Smith stated proudly. “But it's the people of Bloomingdale that make this place truly special.”

Jordan Stahl of Tyber Creek was happy to participate. “We were thrilled to participate in Bloomingdale Community Day to benefit Crispus Attucks Park. It was a beautiful day and we had a great time meeting many new neighbors. Bloomingdale has given us such a warm welcome, we were happy for the chance to give back.”

The Taste of Bloomingdale has been held only for the last four years, while the yard sale goes back to the very beginning of the park in its current form. Back in 2004, when control of the space was returned to the neighborhood, the CADC held its first fundraising yard sale to raise money for the planting of trees and adding mechanisms to stop soil erosion.

Crispus Attucks Park, named for a former slave who was the first person to lose his life in the Boston Massacre, is not a government entity. The park relies entirely on the fundraising efforts of the CADC and the dedicated work of. The park plays host to many non-fundraising events, including Toddler Soccer on Saturday mornings and movie showings throughout the summer.

For more information on Crispus Attucks Park and its history visit

Taylor Barden Golden is a real estate agent with The Stokes Group at McEnearney Associates. A former Hill staffer, Taylor lives in Brentwood with her husband, two dogs, and a cat. She’s always on the lookout for new places to explore and ways to spend time outside. Get in; @rtaylorb.

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