Heard on the Hill – May 2017


How is it May already? I refuse to accept the rapidly approaching specter of summer and all its mandated extra grooming. However, I suppose the upside of this rapid tearing of days/weeks/months off our calendars means we are just that much closer to the end of days, alternatively known as the 45th presidency.

CHAMPS Hires New Executive Director
Meanwhile life as we currently know it moves on. The Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce CHAMPS has engaged a new executive director. Betsy Poos, a former co-owner of Capitol Hill Yoga and therefore familiar with the daily stresses and challenges of operating on the Hill, recently took the reins of the organization, which for the last several years has been run by an all-volunteer board of directors. (Yours truly served on the board for several years.) During this period of reinvention, the organization has taken a look at how best to serve its members.

“CHAMPS’ mission is to advocate, protect, and promote on behalf of its member businesses,” said Poos, who has examined the programs the organization had been offering and is seeking to tweak them and add more value for members.

CHAMPS has long been a venue through which members can address local leaders. The organization has continued a series of Advocacy Breakfasts held at Mr. Henry’s. Recently they hosted Councilmember Elissa Silverman to discuss the proposed paid family leave proposal. Business owners seeking to strengthen skills or learn about areas beyond their expertise can attend a lunch-and-learn event featuring a changing roster of guest speakers, while current and future business owners are welcome to attend the monthly Entrepreneur Brown Bag Working Group to share, support, and strategize with others. Quarterly meetings have replaced the monthly Wednesday wine-downs as a place to connect in a social setting.

Poos has expanded the type of memberships available. Small businesses (gross sales under $100,000 a year) now have the option of joining as a micro business. Dogwalkers, organizers, freelancers, and errand-runners may now find that membership works for them. Since she took over, membership has doubled. As to the status of the popular “best of” Capitol Hill event, The Hillys (aka Capitol Hill’s very own prom), the event is on hiatus. If you are a business owner looking to connect with other businesses, go to www.capitolhill.org.

Music on the Hill
It is a favorite Listserv lament to complain when another restaurant or bar opens in the neighborhood, “Why can’t we have more retail?” I agree we could always use more retail, but are we adequately supporting the retail that exists? (Rule of thumb: if you can buy it locally, then do.)

Mini-rant over.

Folks are still surprised to learn we have a music supply store on the Hill. Owner Lindy Campbell opened in 2013 and has built a community of musicians and students. The business moved from Southeast to Northeast in its short life. It rents many kinds of instruments and stocks guitars, ukuleles, sheet music, musical toys for children, and accessories like bow rosin and replacement reeds.

If you have no idea what bow rosin or a replacement reed might be used for, perhaps it’s time you learned to play an instrument. Music on the Hill offers lessons in guitar, ukulele, drums, brass, and woodwind instruments. There are voice teachers on staff should you wish to take your crooning beyond the confines of the shower. Music on the Hill offers individual and groups lessons as well as summer camps for kids ages 4-15. The shop is open seven days a week and is located at 801 D St. NE. To learn more go to www.musiconthehilldc.com.

Eastern Market Main Street Market Week
Eastern Market Main Street, the new organization tasked with attracting, promoting, and retaining businesses in the Eastern Market area, is hosting a week of events on May 14-21. Old-timers may remember Market Day, held each May and cosponsored by the nonprofit organization Friendship House. The event stopped when Friendship closed and the building became residences.

Main Street seeks to build on those memories by hosting a week of events intended to celebrate and promote the diversity of businesses in the market area. Events seek to promote business, restaurant specials, and activities from restaurants, retailers, and services through a Market Week Passport. Collect stamps in your passport from participating establishments and drop it off over the weekend to enter to win prizes. The week will culminate in an all-day festival and a Night at the Market featuring beer, wine, small bites from local restaurants, and music on Sunday, May 21.

Day of the Dog at Congressional Cemetery
Congressional Cemetery hosts the annual Day of the Dog on Saturday, May 13, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. On that day the historic cemetery throws its gates open to all dogs, not just those that belong to the exclusive Canine Corps. All leashed pooches, members or not, are welcome.

The day’s events include a 5K race at 9:30 p.m. (Race registration is $40.) The costume contest (human and pet) is at 10 a.m., and at 1:30 is a … sock relay? Throughout the day there will be activities for both people and pets including face and paw painting, an agility course, a lawn twister, and bobbing for hot dogs. I hope the bobbing for hot dogs is for the dogs. Pet-related vendors, service providers, and rescue organizations will be on hand to share information, and food trucks and breweries will be selling their goods. Learn more at http://cemeterydogs.org.

Farewell, Metro Mutts
Speaking of local pet stores, it is with a heavy heart that I share the news that H Street’s Metro Mutts will close for business on May 14. Metro Mutts opened the original location seven years ago and quickly became a beloved local business and member of the H Street community, showing up at events, donating to school auctions and other nonprofits. Their “Dog Beach” collaboration with the Red Hook Pound lobster truck for the H Street Festival was particularly memorable.

As someone who was a part of the early H Street revitalization while working for the Atlas Performing Arts Center, I have a personal fondness for all of the businesses that took a chance on the neighborhood. Those of us who had to convince customers and patrons to brave the endless streetscape project and the tortuous and emotional streetcar construction cherished our weary colleagues up and down the street.

But we should not stay sad for long. Metro Mutts is going to continue its dog-walking and pet-sitting services. Longtime tenant Spot On Training will be taking over the first floor of 508 H Street NE and will be able to expand its training offerings, so Rex and Fifi will still be in good hands.

Jen DeMayo has been a waitress, an actor, and a puppeteer. She worked for many years for the Atlas Performing Arts Center, which has resulted in her being a relentless H Street booster/streetcar apologist. Originally from the New York-New Jersey area, she is one of the many who whine endlessly about DC’s lack of good bagels and pizza. She is the mom to two boys who attend DC Public Schools (off the Hill). No matter what she may end up accomplishing in her life, she is sure that her obituary headline will say she was the founder of Moms on the Hill. Contact Jen at jendemayo@gmail.com.