DCentric » DCRA http://dcentric.wamu.org Race, Class, The District. Wed, 16 May 2012 20:20:35 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Copyright © WAMU Taking Liberties with Expiration Dates http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/10/taking-liberties-with-expiration-dates/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/10/taking-liberties-with-expiration-dates/#comments Fri, 29 Oct 2010 14:50:02 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=1733 Continue reading ]]>


This is NOT the corner store in question. This one is in Brooklyn.

I was reading Prince of Petworth, a blog which encourages readers to write in if they have a question. Today’s reader submission worried me; a corner market in D.C. is replacing the Manufacturer’s expiration date with their own (including meat products!):

“I caught this once…some Purdue chicken…I peeled back their sticker and found a manufacturers date that indicated expiration was 5 days sooner.

Anyways, I’ve gone back twice since to try and catch them, and both times found that they had scrubbed off the manufacturers expiration date before applying their own sticker.

I’m concerned for a lot of reasons…Is what they are doing illegal? Most disturbing is the fact that I reported this yesterday to the Department of Consumer and regulatory affairs food safety office…and no one has returned my message yet (It’s been over 24 hours).”

PoP blogger Dan Silverman offered to put them in touch with someone immediately, but what several commenters are disturbed by is the lack of identifying information for the market. Understandably, there is none because the letter-writer is worried about a defamation suit; he has offered to provide more details via email.

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Food Truck-palooza ends today, at 8pm. http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/10/food-truck-palooza-ends-today-at-9pm/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/10/food-truck-palooza-ends-today-at-9pm/#comments Fri, 08 Oct 2010 17:35:23 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=1301 Continue reading ]]>

Gautham Nagesh

You don't even need cutlery for most Curbside noms.

If you were looking for something fun to do today, you may want to head to the Curbside Cookoff at 11th and H Streets NW. Although the “most popular Food Trucks in D.C.” have been serving everything from sandwiches to sweets since 11 am, this evening, from 5-8pm there will be live dance performances and music.

Trust me when I say that you will be grateful for the distraction, as your food is prepared. That’s how I felt yesterday, when I waited for a delicious District Taco.

I was in line for about thirty minutes, which flew by because of all the people watching– the event was packed. Once at the front, I  was told that our tacos would be made to order and considering how slammed they were, that might take a little while. It all seemed so festive, I barely cared. I took my number and wandered over to the stage and watched hand-dancing, break-dancing and finally line-dancing.

The best thing about Curbside Cookoff is how it took on the feeling of a neighborhood block party– in the middle of buttoned-up, downtown D.C. By the time the dancing was over, my tacos were ready– and well-worth the almost year-long wait. I have seen some complaints on Twitter about the lines (true) and the lack of vegetarian options (not true– I could’ve had pizza, Sauca, Indian food and more if I didn’t want tacos). The lines are long; there’s no denying that. But this is a one-off event meant to celebrate Food Trucks, so it’s not comparable to trudging out of your office during a regular work day to grab something portable, to go.

In my case, I especially didn’t mind waiting because I’ve never made it out to Arlington for District Tacos, but I’ve followed them for a year on Twitter and I have wanted to, very much. I can’t justify driving to Virginia to try a delicious-sounding breakfast taco and I’ve never had to run an errand near their twin perches of Crystal City or Rosslyn, so had it not been for Curbside Cookoff, I wouldn’t have been able to sample their fare. I must say, it’s worth the hype. Thankfully, they are working on being approved to dispense in D.C., so don’t bother hating on them for their name.

Go earlier vs. later, because certain trucks will sell out of food. I went at 6:30 pm yesterday and missed BBQ Bandidos, entirely. I think the lobster rolls were gone by 7:30; the Sweet Bites dessert truck was done even earlier. As I left Curbside Cookoff, I overheard groups of people discussing how “amazing” the event was. I agree. It was a lot of fun; I just hope that Food Trucks are allowed to flourish in this city. There’s a hungry, enthusiastic market for the diverse fare they offer, and if anyone doubts this, go to the Cookoff and see the lines for yourself.

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Curbside Cookoff is a hit. http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/10/curbside-cookoff-is-a-hit/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/10/curbside-cookoff-is-a-hit/#comments Thu, 07 Oct 2010 22:46:58 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/10/curbside-cookoff-is-a-hit/ Continue reading ]]> image

Several hundred people are still happily waiting in very long lines for grub from D.C.’s 20 best food trucks, as of 6:45. Though some trucks are already out of treats, the event will continue until 9pm, at 11th and H streets nw. If you are busy today, it resumes tomorrow, at 11am.

p.s. Check out our review of the event, here!

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Red Hook Lobster Truck: The Interview http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/10/red-hook-lobster-truck-the-interview/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/10/red-hook-lobster-truck-the-interview/#comments Thu, 07 Oct 2010 13:30:03 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=1269 Continue reading ]]>


So remember way back on Monday, when I blogged about Council member Tommy Wells’ tweet? The one which admonished the red-hot Lobster Roll truck for doing business near Eastern Market without paying a vendor fee? It also mentioned Lobster Roll patrons shamelessly devouring their sought-after seafood at Marvelous Market’s tables. Well, it is irrelevant whether you remember it at this point because I just recapped it all. Handy!

I said I would reach out to Red Hook Lobster Truck to find out more and I did. We eventually connected late Tuesday afternoon, when I had a very long conversation with co-owner Leland Morris about “The Food Truck War”, his business philosophy and whether or not they let people get tacky and mooch Marvelous seating.

The first thing Leland said to me was this, and it set the tone for the entire interview: “We do everything by the book and in the spirit of the community we’re doing business with. We want to put positive energy out there. We do this because we love the positive experience people are having.”

What would you take away from that intro, DCentric readers? Yeah. Positivity. Morris was upbeat and up front. He sounded ready to answer any question I might pose. He also sounded…nice. I found myself hoping that he had a great explanation for Wells’ tweet…

Lobster Roll truck at E Mkt Saturday pkd in frnt of Marvelous Mkt, avoiding payingvendors fee, patrons eating at Marv Mkt tables-bad idea

…which I read to him, twice. What did the proprietors of the most popular food truck in town have to say for themselves? How did he feel about the Council member’s criticism?

We take it as a directive tweet in terms of strategy; it’s what makes good business sense.

And why would they park in front of Marvelous?

Generally, we do not pull up in front of other restaurants, but one of the challenges we have to deal with is finding a legal parking spot. So what we do is we offer a discounted lunch to anyone who saves a parking spot for us.*

On that day, one of our twitter followers saved us a space which was unfortunately directly in front of Marvelous Market. It’s not unusual for us to show up and for there to be 200 people in line, which is fantastic, we love the reception we’ve received from this city. At the same time, it makes it difficult for us logistically to move to a different parking spot once they’ve lined up patiently– we can’t ask them to move. Quite frankly, I didn’t even recognize that we were in front of Marvelous Market due to the flurry of set-up activities.

Okay…what about that Vendor’s fee, per Council member Wells tweet? Were they avoiding it?

It’s not that we’re avoiding paying the fee it’s that there’s a whole process you have to go through to be at Eastern Market. We are working through that process right now and we’ve agreed to not go back to Eastern Market until we’re approved vendors. We could pull up and do business without going through all of that, but we know the feelings of the people in the area, so we started the application process and paid the vendor’s fee so no one would feel like we’re pirating business. We don’t have to do that, but we want to. And we are a draw. There were 200 people in line. As we pulled away, we got phone calls, emails and texts from other businesses, non-food sellers who said, “Thank you for coming, we appreciate all the additional business you guys brought in.”

That made sense…if one of my friends were waiting in an outrageously long line, I’d be the first one to start looking around for other retail trouble I could get in to, or alternate restaurants at which to eat, since I’m a vegetarian who hates lines. I probably would’ve spent money while my lobster-lovin’ pal dutifully stood there. But what about the brazen disrespect of customers standing in front of Marvelous Market for hours, potentially obstructing the sidewalk…and then shamelessly sitting down to enjoy a $15 roll at a business at which they spent no money?

Yes, the other issue is that people were buying rolls and sitting on Marvelous Market’s patio. And that’s not okay but those were those people’s decisions.

My goodwill started evaporating…

A lot of those people were in groups where someone got something from Marvelous Market and a few people got lobster rolls and they sat down together. It’s true though, some people didn’t spend any money. We saw that and our cashier started telling people that the patio is for Marvelous Market customers only. Once we did that people steered clear of the patio.

…and there, it’s back again! I mean it– after speaking to Leland, I started to feel an overwhelming positivity. While I only asked him for 15 minutes of his time, he spoke with me for a full hour, answering as many questions as I had, even though he was busy.

The only thing I didn’t ask him about was the Red Hook Lobster Truck’s participation in one of my D.C. peeves– “saving” a parking spot for someone else who is several blocks away. Usually, I hate when people do this. It’s lame and unfair. The first person who DRIVES up to a spot should be the one who parks in it; the smug pedestrian who is dismissively waving his hand while trilling, “I’m saving this spot for my friend” should be required to lick the asphalt clean if he wants to squat on it for his slower buddy (told you it was a pet peeve).

Having vented all of that, I completely understand why food trucks need to employ such tactics. It’s a different situation from normal space-hogging. They need a place to pull up and if they know where it will be, they can tweet it to the seafood-craving masses, who then scramble away from their desks and line up ’round the block. The system works. Since I appreciate food trucks, I won’t aim my ire at kind Leland and his wheels– but the rest of you drivers are on notice!

Finally, if reading this made you want to TRY one of these obsessed-over sandwiches, hie thee to 11th and H Streets NW, where the Curbside Cookoff will be starting in two hours. If you’re busy, don’t fret– the event goes until 9pm and repeats tomorrow:

The District’s 20 most popular street vendors will converge in downtown DC on October 7 and 8 for two full days of art, music, dance and of course the best food the vendors have to offer.

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I hope that was hyperbole, tour guide. http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/09/i-hope-that-was-hyperbole-tour-guide/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/09/i-hope-that-was-hyperbole-tour-guide/#comments Tue, 28 Sep 2010 14:36:21 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=1070 Continue reading ]]>


Segway tour of the Capitol

I don’t think I can phrase this better than Will Singer did on Twitter, so I’ll just quote him: the following is a news story “in which white folks from Baltimore compare the injustice of DC professional licensing to that of the Dred Scott case”:

Whenever Tonia Edwards leads a Segway tour to the Capitol…she continues to the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse, which has become a place of particular interest for local tour guides – especially Edwards and her husband, Bill Main, who own and operate Segs in the City. Last week, the couple joined the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit libertarian law firm, in filing a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the District’s tour-guide regulations, which make it illegal to lead a paid tour in Washington without a license.

The $200 licensure process, which includes a multiple-choice exam on Washington history, violates those First Amendment rights, Edwards says: “They’re telling me that I have to be licensed to talk to my customers? That’s a real violation of my right to free speech.”

Of the people who take the exam, 91% pass it; it’s not difficult. But let’s get back to the part where tour guide operators who don’t take the easy test are compared to slaves denied U.S. citizenship (I can’t believe I just typed that):

Back at the Segs in the City kiosk, Edwards thumbs through a Washington guide book. “I can write a book about D.C. history without a license,” she says, “but I can’t talk about D.C. history without a license?”

Soon, she and Main do just that, pushing off for the Mall with a group. At the FDR Memorial, Main offers a bit of historical commentary. Noting that the District’s tour guide regulations have been around for more than a century, he digs into his mental file-o-facts on the Supreme Court. Dred Scott, the case in which the court said slaves could never be U.S. citizens, “was on the books for a long time before it was changed, too,” Main said. “But that doesn’t mean it was right, either.”


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Speak Up for Food Trucks http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/08/speak-up-for-food-trucks/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/08/speak-up-for-food-trucks/#comments Thu, 26 Aug 2010 16:30:53 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=265 Continue reading ]]> Breakfast from Sauca

Sauca, one of many mobile purveyors of food in DC.

If you are enjoying the diverse array of food trucks which currently dot DC, especially around lunch time, you may want to speak up– by 5pm today. Yes, the deadline to comment has been extended. The Washington Business Journal explains why you’d want to:

D.C.’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs recently proposed regulations regarding the city’s many food carts, as part of a general overhaul the department has been doing regarding street vending in the city. But some business owners are against the regulations, and the food trucks in general, saying they create unfair competition for the existing businesses which draw lunch crowds.

These food trucks often travel to under-served parts of the city, where workers have few choices for dining. They change locations regularly and yes, they are popular, as our post on the Lobster Truck indicated. Yesterday, Twitter was ablaze with people beseeching their followers to email the DCRA. If you didn’t get to write an impassioned missive yesterday, you have four-and-a-half hours left to do so today.

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