Bloomingdale Buzz

Bloomingdale’s own Chita Rivera, pictured with Horacio Sierra. Photo: Keith Harrington

Preserving Bloomingdale’s Past

The Bloomingdale Civic Association (BCA) continues to focus its attention on strengthening and supporting the community. Through its Bloomingdale Village Square Project, the BCA interviewed 25 residents and created an oral-history video to help preserve the neighborhood’s history.

The BCA will present the work at a showcase in mid-December as one of 16 grantees of the DC Humanities Council. The project includes a video, a booklet of Bloomingdale’s history timeline from 1800 to 2015, which focuses on the interaction between social/institutional events and architectural/land-use events, and design ideas such as public art and an electronic community bulletin board.

Headed by Bertha Holliday and Zach Sherif, the project also included volunteers such as Bloomingdale resident and English professor Horacio Sierra, who worked on the oral-histories video. “We want to honor people who’ve been here for decades, to learn from them what Bloomingdale was like so those who come in the future will have a sense of history of the neighborhood,” Sierra said. The 25 interview subjects represent a cross-section of residents including actress Chita Rivera, who grew up in Bloomingdale.

“Everybody expressed their love of Bloomingdale and said what sets it apart from other neighborhoods is that you can rely on your neighbors for assistance,” Sierra shared. One interviewee remembered the “Orange Hat Brigade,” a group of residents who stood on street corners so drug dealers would see Bloomingdale wouldn’t tolerate drugs in their neighborhood.

“It’s the longtime residents, mostly African-Americans, who were here all along … and dug in when times were tough and helped the infrastructure of the neighborhood,” Sierra explained, adding that he feels Bloomingdale is thriving because long-term and new residents are working together for the benefit of the neighborhood. “Being involved made me love this neighborhood even more, and hearing people’s stories gave me a greater sense of its place in DC history,” Sierra said. “I got to meet my neighbors and reach across generational differences.”

Contact the Bloomingdale Civic Association at www.bloomingdalecivicassociation.org.

 

Hot Chick(en) in Bloomingdale

CRISP Kitchen + Bar, which opened after Thanksgiving, is adding hot chicken sandwiches to the neighborhood’s rich culinary landscape. The hearty bar fare and craft cocktails make for the perfect spot to catch up with friends, have a casual date night, or cheer on the Caps and Redskins. “It’s been very hectic getting open, but I can tell you that from what my original vision of this space was to the final product … has far exceeded even my own expectations,” owner and DC native Jamie Hess said. “I hope the customers like it as much.”

Designed by chef Alex McCoy, the menu of updated diner food will include a spicy fried (hot) chicken sandwich, burgers, poutine, house-made fries, and vegetarian options. Chef Akiem Brooker will be cooking up these delicious dishes, eventually expanding the menu and offering brunch.

Hess shared that the restaurant’s name, CRISP, was inspired from a few sources. First, he wanted to bring a “fresh, new and crisp” concept to the space; second, the menu will include different varieties of crisps (chips); and finally, the name is a nod to Bloomingdale’s own Crispus Attucks Park. “We feel people will come from all over the area, but a large portion of our customers will be those that live in close proximity,” Hess said. “The community and culture of Bloomingdale has its own distinct feel.”

Hess talked to other business owners and residents to learn what the neighborhood needed. “I’ve actually liked this neighborhood for years and looked at the space prior to its previous tenant,” explained Hess, who took over the lease from Costa Brava and renovated the space.

As CRISP settles into the neighborhood, Hess plans to be very present in the community, to continue interacting with residents, and to add events such as Yappy Hours in the spring and summer. In the meantime stop in for a hot chicken sandwich on a cold winter day.

Visit CRISP Kitchen + Bar at 1837 First St. NW or at www.crispdc.com, or call 202-713-5011.

 

Shop Local

The holiday season is the perfect time to support local artists, especially when they may live right next door. Buying handmade items from the talented artists and artisans who live in Bloomingdale will help you support small businesses and get to know the people in your neighborhood.

“I’m passionate about saying hi to people on the street,” said Tricia McCauley, herbalist and owner of Leafyhead Lotions and Potions. “That was one of the loveliest things about Bloomingdale when I first moved here [about 10 years ago]. There was no reason to be here unless you were a resident, so everyone said hi. It's been amazing to see the neighborhood evolve.”

McCauley has been the herbalist at Common Good City Farm for several years and started Leafyhead in 2009. She now sells her homemade products, such as lip balms, salves, and lotions, on Etsy and at holiday markets, including the upcoming Big Bear Cafe Holiday Market and the Black Cat Rock and Shop.

Jewelry maker Rachel Pfeffer recently opened a studio and store at Brookland Arts Walk, and she shares the space with fellow Bloomingdale resident Marcella Kriebel, an illustrator. Kriebel has a collection of more than 80 prints and will also do commissions. “I found a wonderful group of friends in the neighborhood that keeps me anchored here,” Kriebel shared. “I love being a part of the LeDroit Park Community Garden, the Bloomingdale Farmers Market, Yoga District, Boundary Stone for beers, and Big Bear for my coffee fix.”

Pfeffer, who also sells some of her jewelry at Proper Topper in Dupont, explained that many of her pieces are made-to-order, especially rings. “I list almost everything I've made on my website, but try to keep a good inventory on hand for when something sells online,” Pfeffer said. “I'm driven by both what I think will sell and what I personally am in love with.”

To find these artists and to keep your holiday shopping local, check the websites and information provided.

Contact these artists through the following sites:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/SashasKnotsNeedles(knitter and Bloomingdale resident Sasha Gamburg)
CRISP’s hot chicken sandwich.
Brass DC Flag necklace by jeweler Rachel Pfeffer.

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