H Street Life

HR-57’s new pop up will offer live music and much more

It’s been a frigid winter, but that doesn’t mean the folks along the H Street NE Corridor have been hibernating. To the contrary, there’s been quite a bit of local excitement, and the coming months promise to hold even more as additional new businesses open their doors.

Toki Underground’s Chef Erik Bruner-Yang Nominated for James Beard Award

Chef Erik Bruner-Yang is celebrated for the ramen he turns out at Toki Underground (2nd floor 1234 H Street NE, http://tokiunderground.com), but Bruner-Yang now has reason to do a little celebrating of his own. The young chef is a semi-finalist for the Rising Star of the Year award from the prestigious James Beard Foundation (http://www.jamesbeard.org). Bruner-Yang is one of two culinary professionals from the District to make the list of 25 semi-finalists. The final nominees will be announced at the James Beard House in New York City on March 24th. The James Beard Foundation seeks to “celebrate, nurture, and honor America's diverse culinary heritage.”

HR-57 Seeks to Open a Pop Up Event Space Behind Union Market

Tony Puesan, the owner of HR-57 (previously located at 1007 H Street NE, http://hr57.org) recently told me of plans to open an event space on the grassy lot behind Union Market (1309 5th Street NE, http://unionmarketdc.com). This would not be HR-57’s new permanent home (they are working on a space in NW near the Howard Theatre), but an interim use of the land owned by Gallaudet University (800 Florida Avenue NE, http://www.gallaudet.edu). The university has plans to develop the land but they agreed to let Puesan use it free of charge until they are ready to break ground (likely two to three years from now). The new event space is to be called Gallaudet Pavilion. 

The Pavilion will host several concert events a week, and the offerings will extend far beyond the jazz offerings for which HR-57 is generally known. Attendees might enjoy jazz, blues, bluegrass, country, and other genres of live music. Many of these events will be offered free of charge, but others will require tickets. Puesan stressed to me that the Pavilion will also serve as a community space, saying that he hopes to partner with the local Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and other community groups that might be interested in hosting public events at the site.

DCity Smokehouse (http://dcitysmokehouse.com) is on deck to act as permanent food vendor, but other small food start-ups will also rotate through, with some events featuring several sellers at once. Unsurprisingly, some of these food businesses will have ties to nearby culinary business incubator Union Kitchen (1110 Congress Street NE, http://unionkitchendc.com).

Puesan hopes to host the first event in late April or early May. Ultimately, the Gallaudet Pavilion will operate seasonally from April-November. Expect to see picnic tables appear in the grassy areas, and the birth of the so-called 5th Street beach. The beach will have white sands and visitors will be invited to BYOBC (Bring Your Own Beach Chair). At some point you’ll be able to enjoy an adult beverage with your live music and bar-b-que.

ABRA Calls a Foul on Halftime Sports Bar

In a major blow to Halftime Sports Bar (1427 H Street NE, http://www.halftimeonhst.com), the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has voted three to two (one abstention) to continue the summary suspension of the tavern’s liquor license until such time as a show cause hearing can be held. Chief of Police Cathy Lanier ordered Halftime shuttered January 31st following a report that owner Karl Graham allegedly drew an H&K semi-automatic .40 caliber pistol during a verbal dispute with a man named Fred Thompson who allegedly threatened Graham and “lunged at him.” Thompson was not a customer or employee of the bar, but had come to the tavern because he was upset about a construction contract he had entered into with Graham for an apartment building elsewhere in the District. The resulting situation is odd to say the least, and it leaves Halftime with a highly uncertain future. 

The Board found that Graham did indeed draw a pistol, for which he holds a Maryland permit. Graham is certified as a private detective in Maryland, and told the Board that he has applied for (but not yet been issued) a concealed carry handgun permit in the District. After Graham drew his weapon Thompson departed and Graham called the police. Thompson returned to Halftime approximately seven hours later at which time he allegedly ran his arm down the length of the bar pushing aside patrons and knocking glasses to the floor. He then reportedly upended several tables before forcing his way out of the establishment. At that point Graham’s fiancé called for police assistance. For the second time that day Graham produced his Maryland concealed carry permit and told the MPD officers that he was carrying a gun. The officers arrested Mr. Thompson, and later that night they returned and arrested Graham for assault and carrying an unregistered firearm. No formal charges have yet been filed against Graham, but he faces a very steep battle if he wishes to continue to operate Halftime Sports Bar. 

For now the license remains suspended, but the Board made it clear how gravely it regards this matter, stating that if the allegations against Graham are “sustained in a show cause action or criminal proceeding, there is a strong chance that the violation in this case will lead to the revocation or non-renewal” of the license. Halftime is currently the H Street NE’s only sports bar, but at least one more sports bar is in the pipeline.

Toki Underground’s Chef Erik Bruner-Yang is in the running for a James Beard Award

For more on what’s abuzz on, and around, H Street NE, you can visit my blog Frozen Tropics. You can send me tips or questions at elise.bernard@gmail.com.