When I moved to Florian Gardens over four decades ago, there were only a couple of grocery stores nearby and hardly any fast food shops. McDonald’s that sits on the corner of Georgia Avenue & Peabody was non-existent. Now, there are plenty of eating places throughout the neighborhood.
In addition to burgers, you can get Chinese Food, BBQ, and even a Thai meal. The ImmThai restaurant, located at the intersection of Georgia & Missouri Avenues, is on the ground floor of a building that for a decade housed the once popular IBEX club. The club which featured performers like Rare Essence, the Junkyard Band and Gil Scott Heron was shut down by the city following the heartless murder of D.C. police officer Brian T. Gibson in February 1997.
I don’t know if that corner has bad feng shui or is simply jinxed, but since the IBEX closed restaurant-life in that building is short-lived. I’ve seen a few dining places come and go including the Meridian and the Brightwood Bistro.
The most recent eatery whetting appetites along the avenue is Oohh’s and Aahh’s. Yes, it finally had its Grand Opening in mid-October, and it is not in the IBEX club building. It occupies space alongside Walmart.
The service at Oohh’s and Aahh’s is respectable and friendly. The meals are a bit pricey, but not unreasonable. For instance, a dinner with two sides will cost you nearly $14.00 including tax. But it’s worth the price. I’ve had the fish dinner with yams, mac & cheese, collard greens and a piece of cornbread a few times. I also had the ribs. I do not exaggerate when I tell you that the Oohh’s and Aahh’s meals that I’ve eaten are the closest thing to home cooking that I’ve consumed from a soul food restaurant. I’ve also asked others who have eaten there for their opinion of the food and so far I’ve not heard a single negative comment.
The 85-seat restaurant serves diners on the ground floor and upstairs. There is a small bar, and if you choose not to eat-in, you can order carry out. The restaurant is open from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays. For weekend hours and further information call (202) 882-2902.
Heads-up FGC members. Last week, I was told by a store rep who was accepting job applications for the restaurant that Saturday, May 6 will the the Grand Opening date for the Oohs and Aahs restaurant in the Walmart building. The soul food restaurant will be located between Walmart’s main entrance and the credit union. According to the Washington Business Journal it will be “a new 85-seat, full-service restaurant.” If the Georgia Avenue restaurant measures up to the U Street store, the menu will include foods like chicken, fish, collard greens and as advertised, the ‘“Best Macaroni and Cheese“ awarded by Washingtonian Magazine.’ Reportedly, the restaurant will also have a carryout. From what I saw this morning, workers are going to have to hustle to meet Saturday’s deadline. Let’s hope for the best.
There is something magical about the Christmas Season. It’s evident everywhere, even in a small co-op community like Florian Gardens.
Overall our members are pleasant throughout the year. And although the Christmas season awakens a spirit that makes us even more sociable and temporarily suppresses the stress of everyday living, it nevertheless fuels the friendly rivalry of our annual door decorating competition.
Some members attach colorful door foil to their unit door and then embellish it with a wreath, ribbons and bows, or other things festive. For a few years, our co-op held a contest, giving first, second and third place prizes to the residents with the best-decorated door. And although the contest was short-lived, the door decorating didn’t stop.
Although the buildings were erected in 1955, Florian Gardens did not become a tenant-owned property until May 1989. As the property is nearing its 30th year as a co-op, the estate which sold for $550,000 is now worth millions.
To convert or not to convert. For several months, the board of directors has been discussing with management the feasibility of converting FGC from a low-equity to a market-rate co-op. Purportedly, the primary benefit of a conversion would be the equity return. While the profit from selling a unit under market-rate would far exceed the return residents now receive when they vacate, the possibility of suddenly incurring a monthly carrying charge that is significantly higher than what is currently being paid to achieve that result is unappealing to many members. Residents who were with FGC from the beginning will tell you that the purpose of purchasing and converting the Florian Gardens complex was to preserve affordable housing for themselves and other District residents.
At a special meeting on Tuesday, October 11, 2016, members got the opportunity to weigh in on the discussion. Although there was less than 100 percent representation by the membership, the turnout was impressive.
An article in the January issue of The Cooperator recently stated: “Cooperate apartment corporations often confront situations where a particular shareholder’s behavior is offensive to others in the building.” Truer words have not been spoken and FGC is no exception.
Even before the District legalized marijuana in February 2015, FGC’s board was receiving complaints from some co-op members about the smell of marijuana. Reportedly, it was often prevalent in the hallway on certain floors and seeping into their unit. When the city made it lawful for DC residents to possess and use limited amounts of marijuana, it created an additional revenue source for the city and satisfied the appetite of potheads, but it also added to the problem for non-smoking residents living in multi-family housing. Adamant non-smokers object to inhaling any second-hand smoke, including weed. This presents a dilemma for a board that tries to appease disgruntled non-smoker shareholders without infringing on the rights of potheads, er, smokers in general.
The governing documents of cooperative apartments and condos typically contain provisions that prohibit disruptive and illegal conduct by a shareholder. These documents usually allow for termination of a shareholder’s membership for unacceptable behavior. But when the original documents do not contain a non-smoking policy, adding one could be like finding a sophisticated supporter at a Trump rally.