Friday, December 4, 2015

Pennsylvania 6, The New Meeting & Dinning Spot in Downtown Washington DC

Pennsylvania 6

Marquee for Pennsylvania 6
The Marquee reminds of the great
era in entertainment and dinning out.
When a new restaurant opens, it is a party, and we were invited to participate in one of the opening parties for this new downtown DC eatery, located in the heart of the business district right off of Franklin Square.

Pennsylvania 6 Bar
The bar is large and has lots of options and friendly bartenders.
Pennsylvania 6 at 1350 EYE (I) Street NW, is the new restaurant that opened in what was once an Italian eatery. And this new hotspot is going to be known for cotemporary cuisine, as well as handmade cocktails, a great wine selection, and a fine selection of craft beers. Pennsylvania 6 totally transformed the space, when you walk in there is no question that the lively bar will be a go to place meeting up with friends and business colleagues in DC. For those that want to sit and convene in a quiet environment, there is an elegant parlor, complete with fireplace, and seating areas for two or four, or eight, or more.

Pennsylvania 6 Parlor
The parlor is an intimate space just off the bar, great place
to meet friends and relax with a handcrafted cocktail.
Pennsylvania 6 is not just a hot new bar, or meeting place, it is a darned fine place to eat! With several large Dining rooms, as well as a VIP table for entertaining 6 or 8 guests. We expect that it will be this table, and who dines here, that you will read about in the celerity blogs and style columns. Surrounded by a wine display, and quite visible, yet removed enough, so you can see and be seen.

Pennsylvania 6 Chef, Staff and Friends
Pennsylvania 6 staff, including Chef Matt Ifkovits
 with our team member, Missy Millikan.

We were lucky enough to get a private tour of Pennsylvania 6’s kitchen with Chef Matt Ifkovitz, trained at the Culinary Institute of America, he proudly showed us around back of the house, where they prepare an eclectic culinary assortment of different dishes, not just the old fare that of steaks and chops, plenty of fresh fish and seafood options, abound as well. What was being served the night we were there was quite delicious.

Pennsylvania 6 Kitchen
A behind the scenes tour of the Pennsylvania 6 Kitchen
was a highlight of our visit. 
Owned by Public House USA which has restaurants in New York City, Philadelphia, Stamford, and two locally, at National Harbor. Pennsylvania 6 is reminiscent of a mid-20 century New York Celebrity hangout, you can just imagine looking across the bar and seeing Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and anyone from the Rat Pack enjoying one of the delicious drinks, or a glass of wine from their amazing wine selection that their sommelier has gathered. No doubt you will want to put this on your list of downtown DC spots to spend some time in this winter.  (Hint) If your party is 6 to 8 for dinner, ask to be seated at the VIP Table. No doubt you will be noted as a DC Celebrity.

Want to get a look at Pennsylvania 6?

Video of the HIP Network Opening Party 11/18/15

Open Table takes reservations online, or you can call them directly.

Pennsylvania 6

1350 Eye (I) Street, NW, Washington DC, 20005


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Vanity Fair & Shinola Open the Holiday Season with a Benefit Party in Washington DC

Shinola DC Clock
Iconic Shinola Clock

Vanity Fair Party at the 

Washington DC Shinola Store 

Shinola DC Party
The Washington DC Shinola Store was decked out.
Shinola DC Goods
Shinola known for shoe polish

We were thrilled to be invited to a holiday shopping party at the Washington DC Flagship store for Shinola, @Shinola 1631 14th, NW. Shinola is a luxury goods maker and purveyor that promotes Made-In-America goods, that people want to buy, classic watches, bikes, leather goods, and more. This by-invitation only was promoted by Vanity Fair @VanityFair as an event to showcase their new DC location, recently moved from the West to the East side of the street, and more than tripled their display space to this corner of 14th and R Streets, NW, in the now hip, Logan Circle neighborhood.

While the Shinola Store and its line of luxury products are relatively new, beginning in in 2011, with the first watches produced in 2013. The brand name is one that has a long history in the leather goods industry, as Shinola produced and sold shoe polish products, mostly known from the World War II era with the colloquialism, “You don’t know shit from Shinola.” Referring to the brands shoe polish. While the original brand was no longer in business, the name was resurrected for this Detroit Michigan manufacturer.

Shinola DC Pet Goods
Dog Collars and Leash
Shinola DC Watches
Shinola Watches
Shinola Signature Watches
Shinola Stores, which are showing up in many cities, sell products made in their own workshops, primarily in Detroit Michigan. Though they do source materials from elsewhere, their focus is to make American made products, and employ workers. The most well-known products are their distinctive watches, which are becoming the “It” watch to be seen wearing. Shinola also builds bicycles in a classic American style, offers leather goods, folio’s wallets, key fobs, and Shinola Pet, a line of dog collars, leashes, and alike, all branded with their distinctive name. Recently a watch with a classic mid-20th Century design was released under the iconic name of Muhammad Ali, celebrating the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville Kentucky. The purchase price of $2,250 comes not only with the watch in a hand-crafted hickory box, prints of the athlete and membership in Shinola’s Foundry, a members only collective that offers VIP benefits to members.

Shinola has expanded to offer a limited signature line of coats and sweatshirts, as well as elegant writing journals.  Price points for their items, are higher than items sourced from off shore, their market research has shown that consumers will pay a premium for American-Made goods.

Shinola DC
Shinola's VF Partygoers shop and socialize
The Party which was promoted by Vanity Fair, as a fund raiser for the Sasha Bruce Youth house ( and was quite swank, with a guest list at the door, coat check, cocktails and passed bites. Shinloa staff were throughout the store with iPad in hand to write orders, and pack purchases for customers. VF Celebrities Michael Carl, @carlscrush, Mat Ullian, @mullian, Carol Blue Hitchens, as well as local names like Heather Podesta, @HMPodesta, Luma Hakki, and Sohelia Rostami were touted as participants. While we did not meet them, there was surely a well turned out crowd of young and upcoming Washingtonians on the scene that night.
Shinola DC
Shinola DC has a new Store on 14th St NW
in the Logan Circle neighborhood.

Having such a high-end luxury goods
Shinola DC
14th St NW is a lively friendly place
store like Shinola in the heart of the now vibrant 14th Street shopping mecca, with its restaurants, home furnishings stores, and alike is a boon for Washington DC, where just a generation before the area was in dire straits. New business and building development is bringing young professionals back to live in the city. And they are staying to raise their families. This new energy defines the Logan Circle neighborhood as more than a passing fad of a hip community, making it a place where people want to live and work. So much of DC is changing, such as the new City Center, the now lively U Street NW and H Street NE, making the city a thriving residential/commercial community that it once was known to be.  

Story and Photos by William West Hopper @wwhopper

Shinola Store - DC
1631 14th Street NW, Washington, District of Columbia US, 20009 202-470-0200

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Dinner on the House @ Uncle Julio's, Mexican Made From Scrach

A visit to Uncle Julio’s -Mexican- from Scratch – Bethesda Avenue, Bethesda MD

We got an invitation in the mail for Cena con Amigos, a complimentary dinner at Uncle Julio’s Mexican restaurant. And like anyone who is invited, we accepted, though wondering why a Mexican restaurant chain would invite us for a free dinner.

While our local Uncle Julio’s has been around for a while, it seems they are upping their game, with some new food and with their great service it was a chance to revisit a restaurant that we have not frequented in a few years.

This special event came with complimentary freshly prepared table side guacamole for our group of four, and our choice of ten entrees from Fajitas and tacos to taco salad and Enchilada, non-alcoholic beverages and a tasty though very doughy desert covered with powdered sugar and served with a honey dip. While the alcoholic drinks were our responsibility, we did get a chance to taste a fresh watermelon margarita, which was quite tasty, and will have to remember to order during the summer months.

Our selected reservation time was later in the evening, 8pm, and the restaurant was lively, though not packed we were quickly shown to our seats. We got a booth by the window, which was great for our little foursome, larger tables are available for bigger groups, and the place is set up into multiple dining rooms and a lively bar area, so there is plenty of space. The interior is well appointed and maintained, not dominated by heavy decoration, as seen in some other Mexican restaurants.

At the end of our meal, the Manager stopped by to thank us for coming in for dinner, and introduced us to their Amigo Especial Loyalty Program. Giving us a card, which will be loaded with a $25 welcome credit for use the next time we stop in. The Amigo Especial Loyalty Program has a number of reward levels from free tableside Guacamole on your next visit, to credits towards complimentary dessert and an appetizer fiesta, as well as priority seating, all depending on the number of points you earn.

What’s next, for us it will be a regular stop when we are hankering for some good Mexican from Scratch, and tasty Margaritas.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Mercedes-Benz's New Mid-Sized Van the Metris

Vans, who drives a van anymore?  Those relics of the late 20th Century, like blue jeans, both were first designed for work, then morphed into a cultural icon.

Meet the new Mercedes-Benz Metris, a mid-sized van, not as large as the Sprinter, and not as small as the competition, the City Express, NV200 or Transit Connect.  Euro style with American functionality. Combine that with a low price and great handling, and you might be behind the wheel yourself!

While it is hard to think of this as a hard working van, that is what it is, and why it is sold by Sprinter dealers, so don’t look for it in the luxury car Mercedes-Benz showroom. Though it is hard to not think of it like any other Mercedes-Benz vehicle, as the Metris combines plenty of standard features, passenger comfort, and Mercedes-Benz handling and ride, ant this will become the best van in its class. Called the V-Class in Europe, here in the US, the name Metris fits its use as a Metropolitan vehicle, with a small foot print, and plenty of interior space, both appreciated by urban users.

The Metris is very much like the C-Class with plenty of standard features and Mercedes-Benz handling and ride, there is no doubt this will become the best-selling vehicle in its class. Any M-B driver will feel comfortable with design of the interior, the switches, radio, and other operational aspects of the vehicle. The turn signal, and electronic 7-speed transmission selector stalk are right where they are in a passenger car, and for those vans equipped with cruise control, that is right where you would expect it to be. Even the familiar Mercedes-Benz smart key, while not adorned with chrome, it operates the central locking as any M-B key would.

Like the C-Class, it is powered by the same 2.0 liter 4 cylinder direct injection turbo gasoline engine and 7-speed electronic transmission, with paddle shifters. Handling and ride are also similar, with its front engine, rear drive power train. The wide doors and comfortable seats make this a very easy vehicle to get in and out of, no climbing up and into this van, just step in and sit down. Seat coverings, are either cloth or M-B Tex like leatherette. Good visibility with large outboard mirrors and plenty of window glass, even in the cargo models, and option rear view camera that displays on the 5.8” radio screen, just like a Mercedes-Benz passenger car.

Though the engine is noisy, it has no problem quickly getting up to well past the speed limit and keeping ahead in the left lane. It is designed to run on regular, it will perform better on 91 octane, with an estimated combined 23mpg. Service intervals of 15K miles will keep it economical to operate.

Park Assist, where the Van will park itself with some help
from the driver. An option found on expensive luxury cars.
The two places where this van will beat the competition, is the amount of interior space and the fact that the cargo model will now become the lowest price Mercedes-Benz model sold in the USA. The passenger version is only $32,500 all with standard blind spot, collision and lane keeping assist and electronic stability program. You can add Parking Assist, for $740 as an individual option. Like on the S-Class the vehicle will park itself, with a little help from you. Plenty of optional packages and equipment to customize this van, including a number of no-cost colors, other than just white and black.

This will be an economical, comfortable and very functional little hauler, be it for cargo or passengers, and at the under $30K price point for a base cargo model, the most inexpensive vehicle sold in the USA Mercedes-Benz line up. Take a test drive and experience it for yourself. 

Plenty of interior room in the Cargo Model for hauling!

Lots of tie down hooks and an innovative floor and wall track system to attach various items to.

Between the tie down hooks and the track, you can secure just about any load.

The Metris has a the Mercedes-Benz Star front and Center.

The Mercedes-Benz Metris has a classic van look and timeless profile that will look good for years to come.  Just like other M-B models had done for decades.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Tires and Technology, Your Car’s Connection to the Road.

How much tire keeps your Car or Truck on the Road!  Think about it, in reality it is not that much between your car and the road, about the size of four palm prints, one for each tire.  Look at the palm of your hand, and that is your cars footprint in four places. In essence those four patches of rubber is all that keeps your car on the road. That small amount of space is what keeps a couple of tons of moving machine with you and your family inside, safe and on the road.

How those tires are engineered and made is the difference of how those four patches of rubber keep you on the road. What is the first thing you think of when you drive over that pothole on the highway? “Ouch!” Is my first response, as the car jumps and bounds out of the pothole and on its way, then again as the back tire hits the same spot, yep I am sure that I will have two flats within a few miles. How does that black doughnut withstand that and still come out round and full of air?

We found out that there is more to tires than just looking good on your car when – BFGoodrich® Tires, invited us to one of their dealer training events designed to educate tire dealers on their main products. BFG has been making tires since the end of the 19th Century, while its hardworking history may not be as fancy as some of the designer brands of tires, the BFG brand is a part of the Michelin family, keeping its American tough guy heritage.

Known to the Off-Road 4X4 Community for their All-Terrain T/A® KO2 tire,    – BFGoodrich® Tires, they also offer street as well as competition tires.

Aggressive traction be it in snow, mud, on road or off road, is key to moving as well as stopping, better grip in mud and snow, Side-Biter lugs in the sidewall improve traction in mud, snow and rocks. Raised bars in the shoulder help release compacted mud for better traction in soft soil. 3-D sipes create biting edges for better snow traction. With 3 Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol, indicating the Rubber Manufacturer Association’s severe snow traction requirements. The BFG KO2 tire has 10 percent greater traction in the mud and 19 percent greater traction in the snow4 compared to the previous-generation tire.

Durability is equally important with the KO2 lasting twice as long on gravel roads and 15 percent longer on asphalt, (think of a gravel road is very rough sandpaper, and asphalt is finishing sandpaper, both scrub off the tread.) The KO2 has a new tread design and rubber formulation that gives it better tread life, helping it to last twice as long on gravel and 15 percent longer on asphalt than the previous tire. The tread rubber has been optimally blended to reduce chips and tears on gravel. The footprint shape and interlocking tread design provide more uniform wear over the long haul. Special stone ejectors push objects out of the tread to reduce drilling into the tire.

The BFGoodrich® All-Terrain T/A® KO2 tire incorporates race-proven and race-winning CoreGard™ technology for split and bruise-resistant sidewall rubber, and a thicker, extended shoulder to prevent sidewall failures, giving it unmatched toughness. Twenty percent stronger sidewalls are critical in off-road performance. The BFG KO2 sidewalls are designed to deflect protruding objects, reducing the chances of splits and snags.

Off Road Tires are not the only products BFGoodrich has to offer. The same is engineered into their high performance tire, the gForce™ COMP-2™ A/S. Incorporating a Performance Racing Core (PRC) that delivers crisp responsive control while cornering hard, on wet, dry or light snow covered roads. Delivering wet and dry traction, stopping up to 15 feet shorter on wet roads and up to 5 feet shorter on dry roads, with better snow traction. Technology directly derived from track tires and optimizes the contact patch (that spot the size of your palm,) for enhanced traction at speed for increased acceleration, while adding sidewall stiffness to resist deflection for immediate turning response, while still maintaining ride comfort.

UltiGrip™ Technology: The g-Force™ COMP- 2™ A/S is made with a high-silica, cold-weather flexing compound designed for the best wet and dry grip, with all-season traction. This combined with Directional Tread Design and V-shaped angled lateral and longitudinal grooves optimize rubber-to-road contact for ultimate dry grip while efficiently evacuating water for better wet traction.

G-Force™ Tread: With advanced mold design and a performance tread profile evenly distributes stresses across the tire footprint improving long-term wear, as well as resisting irregular wear typically associated with directional tread designs.

Performance Racing Core (PRC): ETEC System™ (Equal Tension Containment System), Dynamic Suspension System (DSS), and g-Control™ Sidewall Inserts provide a reinforced internal structure that increases control while maintaining ride comfort and added sidewall stiffness to resist deflection for immediate turning response.

BFGoodrich® Tires now boasts two of the highest performing all-seasons tires in their respective tire categories. Engineered from BFGoodrich’s rich heritage of pavement racing and motorsports technology, BFG knows that performance seeking drivers demand the same attributes in a tire on the street in all seasons. BFGoodrich Tires’ UltiGrip™ Technology and g-Force™ Tread provide enhanced wet and dry traction, optimized rubber-to-road contact and the ultimate grip in hard cornering for control all year long.

For more information about the BFGoodrich® Tires g-Force™ COMP-2™ A/S tire, please visit

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Wilderness does not mean living without luxury

Going into the wilderness does not mean being without luxury.  We recently went “Glamping” in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado at Dunton Hot Springs just outside of Dolores Colorado, and found out that you can be at one with nature and also be in the lap of luxury, all at the same time.  While remote we found it relazing and amazing to be in the middle of nowhere.

Owned by a European family who use it for an American get-a-way. When they have not booked the 12-plus cabin property complete with a Teepee and hot spring bath house for their personal use, it is available for private or corporate uses. Though you may just want to bring yourself, friends and your immediate family and spend a few days off the grid.

 In addition to the town of Dunton, there is an equally elegant “Camp” a few miles down the dirt road where posh tents on platforms provide additional suites for guests to stay the night. These tents are fully equipted with all modern amenties, yes, that includes indoor plumbing, which is more elegant than most five-star hotels.

While we were there a high-line automobile manufacturer was pressenting their line of up-scale recreational vehicles and other trucks to the automotive press. In addition to tents and cabins we were able to stay aboard some pretty amazing and well equipped RVs.

While you may not be so inclined to spend much time in your rustic abode while at Dunton, they do offer you elegant comfort with many refined touches including world-class food and libations. while your cabin has high end showers, western furnishings, and monogramed robe and slippers. All in what was once a booming 19th century gold mining town deep in the Rocky Mountains.

Complete the experience with dip in a hot natural mineral spring, and of course sip some wine in the town saloon, with a world class Chef behind the stove, and some of the most amazing food and drink, you can indulge in the cowboy life without really missing the necessities of big city living.

About two and a-half hours by car from Durango airport, an hour or so from Telluride, and not far from Aspen, the location is well removed from the hectic pace of civilization, with no cellular phone or data service, though thankfully the village does have Wi-Fi. So make sure your Skype Account is funded, or your friends have FaceTime if you want to make a phone call, or bring a satellite phone to keep in touch with the outside world.  And do not expect to be able to find a television except in a couple of cabins.

While you may want to go just to get away from it all, there is plenty to see and do right on the property without having to leave. From a short walk to a wonderfully relaxing waterfall, to hiking, horseback riding or some fishing.  Even just a walk around the property is an experience in nature. Thinking about what it was like living and working here during its hey-day in the late 1800's, makes you appreciate the life we have with today's conveniences.

Seeing another human being is rarer than seeing the local heard of cattle moving to a new grazing pasture! The village  of Dunton is set in a field between two mountain peaks, and you will find plenty of creatures ever present, including snakes, (not the biting kind) rabbits, humming birds, bears and who knows what else might 

The surrounding area is mountainous with ranches and farmland surrounded by National Forrest.  Dirt lanes and roads are the norm, though paved roads are the way to get between the nearby major population centers. 
Just standing on the porch of your cabin and taking in the views is enough to lower your blood pressure and breathing the clean mountain air, and bathing in the hot mineral waters of the indoor or outdoor hot springs will no doubt improve your health, if only your perception of it.

While this may not be the resort for everyone, it welcomes children and pets, making it a perfect family get-a-way to reflect and connect with nature.  Nightly rates for the cabins run from $600 to $2,000.  Though you might want to rent out the entire town and camp which runs from $21,000 to $36,000 per night. 

Make sure you add on for the excellent food they offer, with an experienced Chef on staff, you will not get cowboy grub, more like sophisticated big city meals made from local farm fresh ingredients.  Served in the saloon, or go ahead and have a cookout, they indeed cater to any need you may have.  And do it in very fine style.

For more information  Including rates, location, and lots of great photographs.

To check out their webcam:  Though it may be redirected or turned off depending on who is camping at any specific time.

                                     - William West Hopper