Saturday, February 28, 2015
New DC Eagle is open; the first visit seems like a "field trip"
I did get to the new DC Eagle early Friday evening. The new bar opened recently, and somewhat quietly after a “soft” Sunday debut in January with DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. The Facebook site is here. Both sites seem to appear to need updating as to map and directions to 3701 Benning Road NE (below), so right now the visitor needs to use Google Maps.
It seemed that only the main (second) level is open now. It is quite roomy, and food (hot dogs, nachos, and the like) was available. It isn’t clear when the dance floor and other facilities will be done; it sounds like Spring, at least after Easter. The amount of work required for renovation, the cost and the regulatory construction approvals slow things down.
The best way for many people to go seems to be Metro, to the Minnesota Avenue station on the Orange Line. This station is above ground, which makes a cold wait to return in winter. The neighborhood used to have a “bad reputation” in the local media, quite frankly. But next to the Metro station (and large bus facility) there is a new apartment building (where there used to be open space, according to Google maps), and across Minnesota Ave. is a charter school. The scuttlebutt is that real estate values in the area have risen rapidly, and that more condo and retail development is going to happen quickly, with "gentrification" (like another U Street). It is a short walk (maybe two baseball fields) to Benning Road. You walk to the right of “Rainbow Dresses” (no connection to “Rainbow Foods” which I remember so well from my years in Minneapolis) and down a service road, behind the wire fence, and around, to get to the entrance. Yes, it would be nice to see more lighting and cameras.
There is a parking lot “over the fence” which patrons are not allowed to use. The Blade had reported objections from the nearby strip mall shopping center that uses the lot, but it was largely empty. It would sound reasonable that a way to use the lot at night legally should be negotiable, although it would cost the business more. I was told that the best options for driving were to use the ample Metro garage next to the Metro Stop, which works only if you have a Smart card. That means it would work easily only for DC area residents. People who visit the DC area recently should hold onto their Smart cards (they cost $5 new), which is like saying that people who visit New York frequently (as I do) should hold on to their MTA cards (which I often forget). It’s like a frequent flier tip. They said you can part OK on the street at night. I wouldn’t like to do that, but I’ve done it in other cities.
In fact, it’s useful to summarize parking while on the road. In some places (Detroit, and downtown Nashville), some bars have relatively inexpensive valet parking (as do some “straight” clubs in downtown DC). Some places, like West Hollywood, ban all street parking by visitors but have provided a garage. In both Dallas and Minneapolis, where I have lived, street parking has been pretty easy and safe in practice (although now Dallas has a paid lot near its main Caven bar complex on Cedar Springs).
It’s only fair to add this “avise”: If you drive, wait at least one hour per drink you’ve had before taking the wheel. That’s my rule of thumb. It takes me about 90 minutes after the last sip for my own alcohol level (from just one beer) to get to undetectable (zero). And don’t use your cell phone while you drive, until you can stop and pull over.
By the way, the train ride because elevated past the crumbling RFK stadium, and the Anacostia was totally frozen over.