More Reliable Than Your Dad’s Chevy
El Camino is cruising into its second year as Bloomingdale’s only Mexican restaurant. With a new executive chef and an expanded menu, El Camino is securing its place as a neighborhood favorite. Bloomingdale resident Tony Lucca, who co-owns both El Camino and 1905 in Shaw, started working when he was 10 years old, and he hasn’t slowed down much since then. “Restaurants were an interesting crossroads of different parts of my career that I’d liked,” Lucca shared. “I enjoy the environment, creating spaces, creating experiences, visualizing concepts and trying to bring them to life … I like the idea of being a part of important milestones in people’s lives.”
Lucca listened to feedback from diners and redesigned the menu with new chef Adrian Salazar, who’s worked at Iron Gate and Zaytinya. In addition to the signature tacos, the new menu includes a whole grilled fish, a slow-roasted leg of lamb, and a hanger steak, each priced at $20-25. Lucca anticipates changing the menu three times a year but keeping the price points affordable.
“Word is going to start to spread that not only is our food darn good but it’s also being executed very consistently,” Lucca said. “When you come in here, you’re getting great value, great food, and great quality.”
Lucca is committed to supporting the neighborhood and keeping it well fed. In its first year El Camino participated in neighborhood events such as Dine Out Bloomingdale and the Bloomingdale Community Day in Crispus Attucks Park. “In these first three to five years, your break-even has to be from the neighborhood,” Lucca explained. “If you can get by and break even off business from the neighborhood, then you’re doing good. Anyone who comes from further outside is just the cherry on top.”
Visit El Camino at 108 Rhode Island Ave. NW, at www.elcaminodc.com,or call 202-847-0419.
There’s No Place Like Home
Thanks to Brick Lane Real Estate, Bloomingdale will have three new buildings for aspiring residents to call home. By responsibly renovating and managing properties, this DC-based company is committed to being a good neighbor.
Founded in 2010, Brick Lane is owned and operated by three native Washingtonians: Erik Kudla, Jeff Gross, and Taylor Kelly. They were drawn to the projects in Bloomingdale for many of the same reasons residents love living here. “It’s one of the quaintest neighborhoods in DC,” Kudla explained. “The turrets and row houses, and access to everything from the Metro to new restaurants. From a retail standpoint Bloomingdale is just getting started.”
In addition to the seven large units at 80-84 P St. NW, which will total 12,000 square feet, Brick Lane is redeveloping and will manage a four-unit building called the Flats at Tiber Creek. Across from The Red Hen, these units will include unique, custom finish selections, natural light, private outdoor spaces, and parking.
While this boutique company started with small-scale projects, it’s tackling a 15,000 square-foot, mixed-use project at 10 Florida Ave. NW. This building, dating to the 1920s, will be called The Truxton and will include nine luxury apartments and about 3,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space. Brick Lane will refurbish the clawfoot tubs and give it a 1920s aesthetic. “We want to pay homage to the history and culture of the neighborhood,” Kudla said. “We’ll plant trees and shrubbery and would love to commission artwork to replace the current mural” (which won’t survive the renovation).
Work at 10 Florida will start in January 2016 and will take about a year. Once the renovations are complete, Brick Lane will manage the building. “After having built it, we are the best people to manage,” Kudla shared. “We know everyone personally and make sure they have everything they want. We have high retention rates for our buildings.” He added, “We want to continue cleaning up the neighborhood and get more involved.” Contact Brick Lane Real Estate at 1900 M St. NW, Suite 200, at bricklanedc.com, or call 202-677-4282.
Let’s Get Physical
Bloomingdale residents can stay fit without ever leaving the neighborhood. From yoga to interval training to a running club, they have many ways to reach their fitness goals and meet their neighbors along the way.
Darrell Fogan started Big Daddy Running Club in 2002 to help his neighbors get in shape together, and the demographic of the neighborhood has changed with the club members. “Groups of men congregated on North Capitol Street and were some of the friendliest people we would meet … each Sunday,” club member John Salatti said. “But the changes in the neighborhood, especially in Truxton Circle, have decreased the number of people on the streets.”
While some club members joined the group to get in shape, others trained for marathons or triathlons and could count on their fellow members to support them on race day. Bloomingdale resident Lisa Harlan joined the club in 2010 and incrementally worked her way up to running 5Ks and 10Ks. “I absolutely would not be as healthy and fit without them – one of the incredible gifts of living in Bloomingdale!” Harlan shared. “And major bonus: I've made friends for life in the club!” Big Daddy members meet Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 a.m. and Sundays at 7 a.m., year-round.
Bloomingdale residents can take yoga classes at Yoga District and Samsara House, sweat with the GetStrong Fitness Sweat Club on Saturdays, or work out with personal trainer Coach G. Residents in neighboring Eckington can take cycling classes at Wired Cycling or even try pole dancing at the P Spot Fitness Center. “The club’s biggest involvement in the community has been by getting the community out and exercising,” Salatti explained. “It has remained an open and free source of camaraderie and fitness since its inception.”
Contact Big Daddy Running Club at John.Salatti@gmail.com;Darrell Fogan at www.metrowellnessinc.com;Yoga District at www.yogadistrict.com/the-studios/bloomingdale-yoga-dc/;Samsara House at www.samsarahouse.org/aboutus.html;Coach G at http://coachgfitness.com;Get Strong Fitness Sweat Club at firstname.lastname@example.org;Wired Cycling at wiredcycling.com;and P Spot Fitness Center at www.bringitupsexy.com.