Monday, July 18, 2016

One, Big, Little Living Room That's Big Enough For All Of Us..And Coffee!

There're a lot of empty living rooms in Silver Spring. (Photo from ZedsCafe.com)
 
I like coffee, and THIS is the BEST COFFEE in the entire WESTERN WORLD!

I wrote a review of Zed's Café and One Big Living Room, many years ago, on a now defunct WordPress blog, and I might have described little else, but, the coffee, ..which is phenomenal. So, this time, while there is much to praise about this legend of Silver Spring hospitality, I don't want to diminish that one, indisputable fact. Phenomenal coffee! Go anywhere else, where you are poured a cup of coffee, and the quality of the coffee that you will find at Zed's Café will surpass it, every time and at every hour of the day. How does proprietor, Zed Mekonnen, do it?

He has a gold standard.

Zed's Café, in Downtown Silver Spring, delivers the promise of what a cafe serves, coffee, and that standard is never compromised. Ever. The quality of the coffee - a cup of Nirvana, every time - and the paninis and wraps and French, Swiss and Italian pastries and the cheesecake (my favorite) is always deliciously, sensually exceptional. What brings me back to Zed's, however, is more than fine coffee and cheesecake and beautiful, Ethiopian and European women. Yes, these are considerations, ..but, what Mr. Mekonnen has created here - what the local press has consistently lauded - is an experience. Zed's Café is an experience, ..and that, in my opinion, has always been the mark of the most celebrated bistros, bars, and restaurants.

The first thing that strikes you about Zed's is the decidedly Bohemian décor, which is classic coffeehouse vibe - a funky, eclectic mix of mismatched steel-frame dinette chairs, vinyl easy chairs, tufted wingback chairs, elegantly appointed mahogany chairs and tables ..and broad, cushy, soul-hugging loveseats. Wi-Fi is free. The genius of local artists is exhibited on the walls, mixed in with small, framed paintings of exotic places, around the world. There are books, everywhere - shelved on every wall, resting on cocktail tables and end tables, between chairs. Between and around the books, there are colorful figurines and other knick-knacks, scattering the scene, ..as if by a favorite uncle. Somewhat on the small and cozy side - it's not a kiosk, at Safeway - Zed's Cafe looks and feels lived in and loved, as if it's been here, forever, ..and welcoming you to drop by, whenever!

Peep in, at any time of the day, and you will find silver-haired friends chatting, yuppies and bootstrappers tapping away on laptops and flawlessly beautiful East African women doing something, ..beautifully. It's where community groups meet. It's where young couples cuddle. It's where new mothers take a break, with their babies. It's where brilliant protest poetry is written and LIVE blues, jazz and indie music is played. It's where college buddies quietly argue over what's going on in a comic book. The 'friend', whose generosity they've all gathered to enjoy, ..more than the ruggedly handsome bloke, quietly pouring coffee, behind the counter, ..is an authentic feeling of belonging and being welcome, in a familiar place...

And that is a stroke of commercial genius.

Whoever you are, you will not be kept waiting for what you came for, because service, here, is consistently fast and efficient - another standard that is never compromised.

More than Starbucks, and with none of the corporate, mass-marketed artificiality of Starbucks's wannabees, Zed's Cafe is an authentic experience ..that can be as brief, intimate, memorable, amusing or lazy and irreverent, as you like. Whether you are sending in kids for carryout coffee, while you're double-parked on Georgia Avenue, ..or you are digging in, with friends, for light eats and live music, ..you leave Zed's, feeling glad that you dropped by.

Isn't that how dropping by a friend's 'Living Room' should feel?

Zed's Café and One, Big Living Room is located at 8225 Georgia Avenue, in Silver Spring, Maryland, ..at the very gateway of the Downtown district. Go. Linger. Double-park. Carry-out. Taste. Love.

Friday, July 15, 2016

How Exactly Would DC Statehood Benefit Seven Bee And The Rest Of River East?

For the people...is it, really? [Photo from the the51st.org]

by Mel Dyer

I have very good reasons, being a resident of Ward 7 and ANC-7B, both in River East, to oppose DC statehood.  I'll try to state them, as plainly as possible, here.

Ward 7 simply isn't ready to be a city/county.  Nor is ANC-7B.

Neither have the commercial development or subsequent REVENUE to build strong enough economies to successfully sustain a city or county--to support public works, police, EMS, good schools and to attract subsequently necessary growth.  I see people Downtown, some from Wards 7 and 8, raving about DC statehood, and I continue to ask them how it would benefit Seven Bee and the rest of River East--no answer.  So long as we, east of the Anacostia, have no means of creating industry, DC statehood remains something for affluent people in thriving neighborhoods, like Capitol Hill, NoMa or Georgetown, ..west of the River.

There must be some way to give Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton a VOTE on the Hill, without DC statehood potentially turning Wards 7 and 8 into politically powerless and poisonable cities, ..like Flint, Michigan.  However, until Eastfolk, still chaffing from Walmart and the DC City Council screwing us over on Skyland Town Centre, can be assured that all of the above is possible, ..no thanks.

Furthermore, Maryland hasn't expressed much interest in getting another Baltimore; so, the prospect of DC climbing in bed with her, even if we wanted to be there, is highly unlikely, ..a-aannd she's got crabs. Again...

No thanks ..and no vote.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Urban Cool And Live Music At Cafe In Nearby Mount Rainier

 
Surprised and delighted to find live music and cafe life, just past the D.C. state line and sitting next to an art gallery, in Mount Rainier, Maryland. Seriously. I am not imagining this.

When I recently learned that the Urban Eats Arts and Music Cafe has just celebrated two years in business, at 3311 Rhode Island Avenue (Mount Rainier, MD), ..I was thrilled! As I'm always looking for places like this, away from the bustle of Downtown Washington and Capitol Hill, and rarely finding them, ..clearly, I have been missing out.

There's a cafe area, with charming, little tables for two or three, and a couple of larger, roadhouse tables for small meetings, over coffee. There's the prerequisite, cozy, little lounge area - a coffeehouse standard - with cushy sofas and loveseats, ..where a good buddy of mine reads his comics, while locals soak up the FREE WI-FI on their laptops. The lounge area gives you a front-row seat, when there's live entertainment, ..and, other times, a great place to meet your next, new best friend! It's a mix of small town diner and East Village coffeehouse that makes you feel instantly at-home, no matter your mood.

When I told Urban Eats owner, Annette Martin, a Southwesterner from Arizona, how much I loved the Bohemian atmosphere, she totally got it...another satisfied customer.

Open mike 'nites' are on Wednesday, and there's a special 'Ladies Open Mike', every third Thursday of the month. There is art, created by local artists, on the walls. I have blown by on a Wednesday night, and I can tell you that it's quite a scene! Live music from the cafe floats out onto the quiet streets of Mount Rainier. Older couples enjoying each other, over drinks and quiet conversation, with younger couples and single ladies drifting in and out, onto the sidewalk.

Love that I can always find a nearby parking space, too. Close enough to stumble out of my car, right onto a sofa, inside! You will love that, ..and don't count on finding that, in town.

You will love the coffee, and the New Haven pizza is $8.95 ..and spectacular.

There just is NO place, like Urban Eats Arts and Music Cafe, presently in these hills. I think they might be coming, ..with the Department of Homeland Security opening in Congress Heights, Skyland Town Centre coming to the western edge of Hillcrest and more development to the northeast, in Minnesota-Benning, ..and farther out, at Capital Gateway. Being sandwiched between all of this urban renewal, I think the Southeast Hills will be getting a few 'towny' pleasures, sometime soon.

Until that happens, ..get out here.

Mel Dyer

Monday, January 25, 2016

We Are Still With You, Seven Bee

I've been warning people in Penn Branch how dangerous it would be, when our neighborhood no longer produced enough revenue to keep it competitive with the affluent communities popping up, all around us in SE - Capitol Hill, Near Southeast, Historic Anacostia - and to keep Downtown interested in delivering top-priority EMS/police services to Penn Branch, as it did in the past.  It has been a controversial opinion to share with all of you, but, right or wrong, I have been consistent in it, ..until I have reason to consider, otherwise.  For this reason, I am not surprised that almost no one has listened...
 
And that day is here.
 
For the safety of my family, I've secured emergency resources and an exit strategy to get us - my mother is a stroke survivor - out of harm's way in a natural disaster that might prevent or delay police and EMS from reaching Penn Branch. Though it was not easy to leave, with God's blessing, I followed through with that plan and got us away from Penn Branch, where my mother (at least) can get the emergency medical care that she might need, as swiftly as is possible, during this difficult recovery. We were lucky this time, and we're safe, for now.
 
Our prayers will be with all of you and your families, in Penn Branch and across Seven Bee, as the DC Metro area recovers from this weekend's Noreaster.
 
Mel Dyer

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Still Think We've Got A Pretty Good Deal Here...Really

Penn Branch may be a little behind the times and short on modern amenities, but we got cars. We can drive, wherever we like.

A major coffee retailer, with a name that sounds something like 'War-bucks', will NOT be coming to Penn Branch or anywhere else in Southeast Washington, D.C. in the Fall of 2011, ..and if you read differently here, and this is a little bit of a letdown for you, I hope you aren't taking the truth too hard. Bummer, huh?

It was all a big April Fool's gag, courtesy of yours truly.

It might be a bitter pill to swallow, but, eventually, we're going to have to swallow it, my friends. The market research for this area (for reasons I won't get into here) is so terrible and nearly impossible to compile, that we are commercially invisible. Besides groceries, gasoline, liquor and a few other things, no retailer can determine, with any measure of certainty, what we are or aren't buying in Southeast or anywhere else, and, without the assurance of nice, cushiony subsidies, aren't willing to take a chance doing business, here. That's our cold, steely reality.

If you think I'm overstating things or being pessimistic, find out what happened to Ben's of Penn Branch. Sometimes, I say 'Ben's of Penn Branch' out loud ..just to amuse myself.

In spite of a few undeniable cultural and eerie aesthetic similarities between our neighborhoods, Penn Branch will never be Chevy Chase, and Fairfax Village will never be Cleveland Park. Skyland will never be Tenleytown, and Anacostia will never be Georgetown or Adams-Morgan. Accept that and see your uniquely appointed neighborhoods, without all the attractive amenities we go elsewhere to enjoy, for what they are - great, if slightly boring, bedroom communities. There are a few I can think of, right here in Middle River East, that are GREAT places to raise your kids, keep a nice lawn, retire and praise the Lord for the rest of your days.

River East may not be what we sometimes dream it could or should be.

God knows I tire of driving all the way to Capitol Hill or Northwest Washington, every time I want to go to a decent restaurant, coffeehouse or see a movie, and I can honestly say that not having those things closer to home keeps me home, more than I like ..or even think is healthy. I'm not twenty-something years old anymore, and I don't feel like somersaulting into my car and driving all over Creation, as much as I used to, and that leaves me out of the loop. It means the New D.C. we keep hearing about - No'Ma, U Street, H Street, Adams-Morgan and rapidly expanding, established areas, mostly in Northwest - is a party you and I aren't invited to, ..but, I still think we've still got a pretty good deal, here. Really, we do.

Really. Seriously...

So, Washington's commercial development revolution continues, ..somewhere else. Somewhere you and I ..aren't? See you at Starbucks ..in Northwest, Forestville, Alexandria and anywhere, but, right here in great, ole Penn Branch.

As you were, Capicostia. Back to your regular programming ..and lousy, instant coffee. Nothing new to see, here.

Go home, now.

Mel Dyer