There’s a reason we call The Argonaut a “Phoenix.”
In 2010, it caught fire and was severely damaged. We chronicled the experience from Day 1, and chronicled the ups and downs, highs and lows as The Argonaut was rebuilt with the help and generosity of our community. This page represents a very difficult chapter that culminated in The Argonaut rising from the ashes to be even better than the original.
. . . . . . . . . .
As you already know, we had a big fire this morning. Thanks to everybody who has tweeted, emailed, called or walked down. We really, really, really appreciate the support.
First, we’re very, very, very grateful. (Ignore the f-bomb tweets!)
- Nobody was in The Argonaut at the time, and nobody got hurt.
- We don’t know who called 911 this morning, but whoever you are, thank you from the bottoms of our hearts. Because of your call, the fire department was able to get there before the damage (which is very extensive, but pretty much only in the kitchen and bar area) was able to spread.
- Most of you may not know this, but our kitchen used to be an alley. Which means that the wall separating the kitchen and the bar is an “outside wall” and is several layers of brick. We are very thankful for that brick wall – it helped contain the fire.
- And thanks so much to the DC Fire Department. Seeing the kitchen, it really hit home about what they actually have to do. I cannot imagine having to walk inside what I can only imagine was an inferno…
- And thanks to Nancy & Graham, and Bill, Liz, Mika & Eila for watching Ara for the first part of the day. Thankfully, I had the good sense not to bring my toddler to a fire and they were ready, willing, and able to help! (And thanks to everybody else who offered to watch her…)
So here goes. It’s hard to tell what some of the pictures are (what with everything being, you know, charred), but I’ll try to caption everything when I upload the rest of them to our Flickr account. These may give you a better understanding of how much work we have to do…
You’ve probably seen us sitting at our beloved table:
It managed to escape fire damage, but the ceiling didn’t.
This is what’s left of our electric panel boxes.
I’m sure there’s an electrician-y word for that. Breaker boxes?
And, the kitchen:
Totally fine. Upstairs is fine, too.
I’ll try to upload pics to our Flickr account (I believe the badge is on the left of the screen), but I’m a little sleepy right now. Big day.
You’ve all been so kind in your offers to help. There isn’t much to do yet (we have to wait until the insurance person comes to start on the inside), but here are some things that people can do:
- We’re in need of 9 globes to replace our famous globe lights. Anybody have any old globes lying around?
- We’re trying to open on online store soon. Will keep you posted on that, but we’re hoping that t-shirt and glassware sales can help us rebuild.
- A lot of us are out of a job right now. If you know of people who are hiring front or back of house staff, please let us know.
- Once we’re up and running (in whatever capacity that may be) we’ll be having a few fundraisers. Please come help us out by drinking. A lot.
- We have people working on boarding up the windows today. If, especially at nighttime, you notice anybody trying to get in, PLEASE call the police.
What next? We have to wait for the insurance people to come and do their thing. As soon as that happens, we can start cleaning.
Since we won’t have a kitchen for a while, we’ll probably have to get a new license (tavern) in order to open. Hopefully, that won’t be too much of a headache. Ideally, in the short term (once things are clean and we have bathrooms, windows, new electricity and are a little reconstructed) we’d love to get some sort of grill or panini press and just do the basics. Since we already handle Rock & Roll’s kitchen, we can maybe use that for prep, too.
At this point, we’re very grateful and are trying to remain optimistic. We’ll be turning 5 in August so we definitely want to be open before that. With any luck, it’ll be muuuuuch sooner. I’ve been working on a post for our birthday and it seems appropriate to use some of that now:
What’s so appealing about The Argonaut? We are, quite literally, a family. Many of our staff members (past and present) are related. We are siblings, cousins, in-laws, roommates. Two marriages and four long-term relationships have come out of Argo. And one baby (so far!).
Not to mention all of you!
We’ve seen a number of your first dates, watched you get married, seen you become parents. We’ve watched your babies growing up. We’ve congratulated you on your kids graduating college, or getting their PhDs. Or when you became grandparents. Or when you got promoted. Or celebrated your birthday with us.
We’ve watched you move out of the area and then move right back, or buy a house, or move across the street just to stay in this neighborhood.
We see you at Safeway or Harris Teeter or Frager’s, at the playground, and all the other restaurants in our larger family.
Most of us live in the neighborhood and we feel very connected to the area in general, and to you all.
And to H Street.
When we first opened, there wasn’t much else around. But now?
We’re so excited to continue to be a part of this amazing time and place.
Scott, Shaaren & Ara (and the rest of Argo)
There’s something about the day after that’s been both worse and better. Even though reality has started sinking in and nobody’s really running on adrenaline anymore, it’s really nice to start seeing a (very loose) time-line for putting stuff back together. And, to learn that we CAN put stuff back together!
Great news in that it might not be unreasonable to be open in a month (upstairs and outside only), but frustrating to maybe have to wait 14 days for the fire Incident Report in order to get a demo permit (which we need to start working).
Emotions are both a little more raw, yet stable, too. On my run this morning I feel like I skipped almost every song: Nope, too sad. Nope, Argo memory. Nope. Nope. Nope. But yesterday morning’s sniffles about what we had lost have made way for tears of joy and gratitude about what we’ve gained. I know how much The Argonaut means to us, I just had no idea how much The Argonaut means to the rest of you!
The outpouring of love and support has been really overwhelming and I cannot emphasize enough how much it’s helped me (and Scott!) get through these last two days. Instead of jumping into panic mode, your support has helped us stay grounded and full of gratitude. I’ll include most of the tweets and emails I’ve received at the end of this post – I hope people don’t mind. I just thought you all might like to see what a fabulous and amazing community you are – and how lucky we are to have you.
Some more thank yous:
- Many thanks to our handyman, Herman! He came right away yesterday with the intention of boarding up just the downstairs windows and by the evening (in that blazing heat!) he and his crew (of 3!) had boarded up ALL the windows AND the TWO holes in the roof!
- Thanks to Mark (of Pour House, Trusty’s, 18th Amendment and Star & Shamrock) for loaning us their Home Depot card so we could buy supplies to get the building boarded up.
- Thanks so much to Rock & Roll Hotel (and Steve, especially) for putting together our first fundraiser! The money will benefit our full-time staff.
- Thanks to the very nice patrons of Granville’s last night who bought us (Chris, Debbie and me!) a round of drinks. Really sweet and appreciated.
- And again, thanks for all the emails, texts, calls, facebook posts, tweets and, you know, regular hugs. They mean so much to us.
So. Here goes. (These are just the tweets and emails we’ve received via Twitter or email.)
JasonDCSpeedy recovery! Fire sucks RT @ArgonautDC Here’s my post about the fire: http://argonaut.typepad.com/argonaut-dc/2010/06/fire-blech.html
rocknrollhotel WE LOVE YOU!!! @argonautDC – “Here’s my post about the fire” http://argonaut.typepad.com/argonaut-dc/2010/06/fire-blech.html
dc9nightclub WE LOVE YOU!!! @argonautDC – “Here’s my post about the fire” http://argonaut.typepad.com/argonaut-dc/2010/06/fire-blech.html
redandblackbar WE LOVE YOU!!! @argonautDC – “Here’s my post about the fire” http://argonaut.typepad.com/argonaut-dc/2010/06/fire-blech.html
MaddysMuff Best of luck, guys!!! xxx RT @ArgonautDC: Here’s my post about the fire: http://argonaut.typepad.com/argonaut-dc/2010/06/fire-blech.html”
MikeyVaderFundraiser 4 @ArgonautDC which suffered a fire early ystrdy morn. http://argonaut.typepad.com/argonaut-dc/2010/06/our-first-fundraiser.html
tomcatx2A Fire at @argonautdc yesterday? wow….http://argonaut.typepad.com/argonaut-dc/2010/06/fire-blech.html
Paul VodraTerrible! ArgonautDC , my wonderful DJ venue, had a fire this morning, and they might not be open for a while. Come back soon!!
Camille NOOOO!!!! Glad everyone is OK and much was spared. Me and DCRG will help in every every way we can! ♥
Anthony Scott and Shaaren,
On behalf of all of the FC Cats nothing but love and good luck on Argo’s speedy recovery. Please let us know about any fundraisers or if there is anything else we can do to help!
Angelique I can’t even begin to tell you all how much this saddens me. As many of you know we’ve been going to the Argonaut since it opened almost on a weekly, sometimes bi-weekly basis. Our group of friends is called the ArgoCrew in honor of the bar that brought us together in costumes every week, and where we still gather now… with babies, not with costumes. My thoughts go out to all of the Argonaut Staff.
Shaaren – I couldn’t believe when I heard. I don’t even know what else to say. Please, please, please let me know if there’s anything I or CHAMPS or the Hill is Home can do or if there’s anything that you guys need. We’re all here for you. I’m keeping you guys in my thoughts.
Hang in there,
Hi Shaaren, Just read frozentropics and heard the news about the Argo. Just wanted to say we are thinking about you and Scott and hope that things are going ok in the aftermath. I’m sure you are incredibly busy but I just wanted to let you know we are thinking lots of good thoughts for you over here.
Best to you, Scott, and Ara,
Lauren, Maz and Julian
I heard about the fire and I just wanted to say my thoughts are with you and your employees. I wish you the best in getting things back up and running. I’m sure all of your fans will be happy to return!
It was really nice talking with you on Friday. I want to send my deepest condolences to you and Scott on the fire at the Argonaut. My heart sank when I heard of the fire, and sunk even more when we saw the building later on this morning. I know how hard you have all worked to make this one of the most happening places on H street.
The Argonaut holds a special place in my heart. We’ve been going there since it opened, and Ally’s been going there since she was a baby. It has become an important part of friends gathering together for us, and for us to have our celebrations. Wednesday nights have become a tradition for us, and I look forward to when they continue again. I love being able to walk in to a neighborhood bar and seeing faces you have come to know and love.
We love the Argonaut, and will help in any capacity we that we can. I will make sure everyone I know is wearing a Argonaut shirt! Please let us know of anything else we can do.
You are all in our thoughts, and know the Argo is going to comeback stronger and better than ever!
I just read about the fire at the Argonaut over the weekend. Glad to hear that no one was hurt, but I’m sure you all must be going crazy right now. My thoughts go out to you and your staff. I assume you don’t expect to be back open this weekend, but I look forward to celebrating your reopening (hopefully) soon!
Sorry to hear about the bad news — I just read about the fire. Glad no one was hurt.
Hope you all get back up and running again soon!
I’m really sorry to hear about the fire. My girlfriend and I moved into the neighborhood in February and the Argonaut quickly became our favorite neighborhood hangout. The food is great (fish tacos are sensational) and the atmosphere is even better. Coming from Ohio, we’re particularly fond of the complimentary cornhole.
We’ll try to make it out to the R&R fundraiser next Wednesday, but in the mean time I have an old globe I’d happily donate to the cause. It sits in our hallway and pokes me in the ribs every time I walk by anyway, so it’s in need of a new home. … Best wishes and good luck on the clean-up, open those doors soon!
Dan & Jessica
Scott, Shaaren & Ara (and the rest of Argo),
I own an architecture firm here in DC and want to help rebuild the Argonaut!
I live at … with my wife and daughter and consider the Argonaut a special place. I felt a little sick when we heard the news Sunday morning. Please let me know if you are in need of architectural permit drawings to help with the reconstruction. I’d be happy to contribute to the reopening of this H street Monument.
day 3. rollercoasters. and again, above and beyond.
Sorry it’s taken me so long to get this post out. We lost our internet (again!) today, but we met DC Access at our first ever CHAMPS meeting tonight, so these [Verizon] problems should be a thing of the past!
Since we’ve never been through this before, it’s been an interesting ride. Please bear with us (well, me) as we go through this process.
Nobody in our house is sleeping very well. If I can fall asleep, I continually wake up in a panic thinking that I smell smoke. Or that we’re on on fire… I assume this is normal? I’m wondering if part of it, too, is that just stepping foot in Argo makes our clothes/hair/shoes smell like smoke? Either way, I’m fully against this feeling!
Today was a big day. Our storage “Pod” and dumpster were delivered early this morning. Hooray, right? Unfortunately, both insurance people told us not to start cleaning anything up, so we can’t actually use either of them. Grumble.
Turns out we were realistic to think it was going to take a long time with the insurance companies, but apparently we were wrong about why. The insurance people would like a corporate “fire restoration team” to come and give an estimate on the costs of the clean-up. And then have them do the cleaning themselves. They are also requesting that an independent “Cause of Origin” person/team(?) come and do a separate investigation.
It’s frustrating, because we can’t start moving forward and cleaning up (and let me tell you, our beloved Argo is beginning to smell a little…ripe), but it is probably also good for us in terms of an insurance payment. We recently renewed our insurance policy and they had to sign off on our establishment’s safety. Plus, our electrician AND both insurance people seem to unofficially think they know what the cause was – and we are not at fault.
What does this mean? Well, we can’t pay our staff (or anybody else) to do any cleaning (because we’re not allowed to do any cleaning or restoration) so all funds raised at next Wednesday’s event will go into an Argonaut Employee Fund. As you can imagine, our full-time staff are feeling a little devastated. We really are a family, and we’re missing each other.
And worse? We’re possibly looking at $100,000 in damages to our “personal” property (equipment and such). Again, we’ll find out more when everybody is finished with their investigations.
Positives? Scott also got a call from the Fire Chief himself saying that he hopes to get us a report by Thursday (and not in 14 days like we had heard). This is great news, because we can’t move forward on any demo/rebuilding without that. Also, we really appreciate their help. Apparently, there were eight other fires that day and I can’t imagine having to go through this without the support of you all.
As many of you know, we are applying to change our license from a restaurant to a tavern, just so we can get open. We can’t get open without revenue. And we can’t generate revenue without changing our license from a CR to a CT (since we no longer have a kitchen).
Elise from FrozenTropics told us that a couple people are concerned that we will continue to be a bar after the rebuild. We have NO DESIRE to remain a bar. We have no idea how long it will take to rebuild the kitchen, but AS SOON as that happens, we’ll be requesting to change back. If nothing else, we have an amazing kitchen staff who would like to be put back to work. AND, we LIKE eating at The Argonaut. (Although I have to say that not eating my weight in my daughter’s mac&cheese and fries EVERY NIGHT is making my clothes fit better!)
And even if that takes a little bit, we’ll still be The Argonaut. In probably the most dreadful television interview known to history, Scott and I both struggled and stumbled to express why The Argonaut is so special (in tonight’s Channel 8 piece). I always tell people, it’s because everyone is always welcome at The Argonaut. We have worked hard to keep The Argonaut low-key, laid-back and the kind of place where we’d want to go if we were the patrons.
For those of you who know us? You know us. We’re not a faceless corporation, we’re neighbors. I bought my house (on Linden Place – two and a half blocks from Argo) in 2000. We’re invested in this neighborhood and here for the long haul.
And today’s thank yous:
- A HUGE thank you to both Tommy Wells and Charles Allen for their support and help with the process. They’ve been great with all our questions and have helped us move forward (since we have NO EXPERIENCE with this sort of thing).
- Another HUGE thank you to Bill Schultheiss and the rest of the ANC for asking that both the ANC (and the community) support our request for a [temporary] change in license (from a restaurant to a tavern). I think they’ve all signed off on our request.
- And a HUGE thank you to you all for all your calls and emails asking that ABC support this change. We went today to fill out the application and they showed Cheryl the stack of emails and phone calls they’d received (at 11:00am!) about our request and said that never before has this happened. That they’ve never seen so many people speak up in such numbers on behalf of an establishment.The hearing is tomorrow(?) and they said they expect our request to be approved.
- Thanks to Nancy, Jeremiah and Graham for letting us use their internet connection this evening. (Who knew that nothaving a job is as much work as having a job!)
- Thanks to CHAMPS for spreading the word tonight about our fundraiser. It was nice to meet everyone and we look forward to being a much more active member in the future.
- Thanks to WJLA for picking up on what we have noticed – that we are surrounded by such an amazing and supportive community. (I can only hope that they just edited me out and did a voice over with some shots of the building!) Thanks to Elise and Chris, for speaking on camera, too. Very appreciated. (Also, as WJLA experienced, please don’t try and reach us on the Argo phone. As one might imagine, it doesn’t really exist anymore. )
- Also, thanks to our fabulous mail carrier who dropped off Argo’s mail at our house instead of Argo.
For all the ups and downs of today, we’re still holding onto our “grateful zen”. Even one of the insurance people wasn’t expecting to see the level of damage in our kitchen based on his conversation with Scott. He said that he can usually tell what the damage is going to look like after talking with the (I just realized I have no vocabulary for this) entity-who-is-filing-a-claim. Scott told him how amazing you all have been and how much it’s helped us get through this process.
Off to bed. I’ll post the next round of tweets and emails tomorrow. Thanks, everybody.
day 4. hanging by a thread. and more love.
Today started hard. Not gonna lie.
I think it’s because we really had it in our heads that we could start cleaning up today. The first available apointment with the electrical engineer (who will either do the forensic investigation OR deliver the evidence to the forensic investigation people) isn’t until Friday. Not terrible, but have I mentioned how much Argo needs a good cleaning? We got most of the protein out of the basement on Sunday, but we’ve got many, many, many powerless freezers and refrigerators filled to the brim with…well? Stuff that was once food and is not smelling very good anymore.
It’s also just such a different kind of busy. Emotionally draining, so much to do in a small amount of time, and as soon as we start one thing, something else comes up. Poor, Ara! I’ve been applying television liberally since there’s so much to do. (Who are we kidding, though? She’s enjoying all this extra tube time…)
The good news is that the insurance company’s fire investigator guy gave us the go-ahead to start working on the upstairs. Hooray! I think we can start cleaning tomorrow. We also spoke with our electrician AND plumber, and have worked out the plans with how to get the electricity upstairs AND fix the leaks in the plumbing (once the investigation is complete).
More good news?
William Schultheiss <email@example.com>
Add to Contacts
|To:||ANC 6A Listserv <firstname.lastname@example.org>; ANC6A06 Listserv email@example.com|
ANC Commissioner 6A06
Thanks so much for your help with this!
jennagiesta DC peeps, represent for @argonautdc! http://argonaut.typepad.com/argonaut-dc/2010/06/our-first-fundraiser.html
Courtney Rae RawlsJune 21 at 1:26pm
Keeping you guys in my thoughts! I’m sorry about the fire and hope things will normalize for you quickly. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help personally or at Argo.
Marina PadakisHi Shaaren–so sorry to hear about the fire. My dad is in the food service equipment business, he may be able to help connect you with sources for repalcement kitchen/bar equipment. Email me and I’ll give you contact info. xx Marina
Kristine FriesenJust read about the fire. So sorry! It must be rough. I hope the reconstruction goes quickly!!
Mandy SpainHoly Cow! How heartbreaking. I’m glad to see y’all have such great support. I’m keeping you guys in my thoughts. Xxxooo
Stacy Blumenthal LeffSo sorry to hear about the fire– we look forward to coming back when you re-open. And we are happy to buy glassware and/or t-shirts to support!
Acadia Wallace RoessnerSo sorry to hear about the fire! Please let us know how we can help! We are going to the fundraiser at Rock & Roll Hotel next week.
Kristina Smith HowardShaaren, I am so sorry to hear about this fire! You and your family are in my thoughts.
Jessica LemberWhat an AMAZING amount of support you’re getting from your community! We’re sending you “speedy recovery” vibes from Philly.
Dear Shaaren and Scott,
We just heard about the fire at Argo (from Judy, who sent a note from Europe. Apparently Jenny heard from a friend in DC and then sent the info to Judy) – and tracked down the (extremely well-written) blog you wrote about it. We are so sorry – what a tough break for both of you. We’re sending our support and hope for a speedy settlement and return to business. Is there anything we can do to help you in the meantime?
I will share your blog with the rest of the family too.
With much love,
Mom and Dad
Jen sent word of the Argonaut fire, and I found your blog description and photos. Such a sad occasion. But lucky too that there were no injuries and that insurance will help you rebuild. The support of your friends and neighbors was very heartening. You and Scott have some tough times ahead, but I’m sure the Argonaut will rise again with your efforts.
Thinking of you and hoping you are managing ok.
I’m a friend of Lisa’s. I love eating at the Argonaut so I am very sorry about the fire.
Try the Brass Knob for replacements for your lighting. It’s the best place I can think of locally. They have strange eclectic stuff so you may want to watch/visit them periodically to find what you want.
The other place is out of Pennsylvania, but they come to Eastern Market’s flea market on Sundays. Olde Good Things
This is Matthew K. Jena (now, my fiance heh) and I used to go Argonaut like crazy before. I was heartbroken when I found out about the fire. So, I am wondering if you would like me to come over and take some photos around the building. I thought that it would make a cool photo project of Argonaut before and after. Let me know. Again, I am really sorry about the fire.
I know you are ridiculously busy, and have had offers from a million and one people to help with Argo… so I just wanted to let you know that we’re here for YOU, too. If YOU or SCOTT need anything NOT Argo related during this insane time… let me know. (Of course Argo related too, but that’s a given).
Whether it’s a grocery store trip, a ride to anywhere, supplies, computer help, someone to stop by and listen to you vent to help keep your sanity… we’re here for ya.
I’d be happy to make any runs for anything… food, soap, paper towels, whatever… just call. Or text. Or email
I know you already have help with Ara from people she sees more often, but that’s always an offer from us, too… I just wish I knew what you guys needed!
Thinkin of ya…
To Shaaren, Scott and Ara,
That looks like quite a mess, and I’m sorry for the clean-up and the rest of the mess you’ll have to go through, but I’m glad there were no injuries and you’ll be able to reopen soon.
Let me know when the t-shirts are ready.;)
Take care. I won’t ask about travel plans because it’s clear you can’t make any until you know more. But we’ll be happy to see you whenever you can make it.
June 21, 2010
Mr. Fred Moosally, Director
Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration
1250 U Street NW
Washington , DC 20009
Dear Mr. Moosally:
I am writing to express my support for a temporary conversion of the “CR” liquor license which is issued to The Argonaut (1433 H Street, NE) to a “CT” license because Sunday’s fire rendered it impossible for the Argonaut to serve cooked food until their kitchen can be rebuilt.
The Argonaut was the first restaurant to open in our area and is considered by many residents to be the neighborhood gathering spot. The Argonaut’s owners Scott Magnuson and Shaaren Pine are both residents of my SMD, and are deeply invested in improving H Street NEand the surrounding community. In addition, they have been extremely diligent with upholding terms of their VA with ANC 6A.
Because I am many other residents in my SMD would like to see the Argonaut quickly get back on its feet in a matter that minimizes the financial hardship on the owners and waitstaff, I strongly urge the ABC Board to temporarily grant a conversion of their “CR” license to a “CT” license. This will allow the Argonaut to stay in business during the reconstruction process.
While such a request would normally go through the ANC’s committee process, the urgency of this matter does not provide the necessary time to do so. I hope the ABC board agrees that this is a reasonable request necessitated by circumstances outside of the owners control and as such will expeditiously approve this request to allow the Argonaut to rebuild as soon as possible.
Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner 6A02
Hey Shaaren and Scott, Wow, what a story. Glad you are all safe and healthy. It’s a tough blow, but bounce back even stronger. Out thoughts are with you. Sam, Eve, Nick, and Ali.
Shaaren and Scott,
I’ll be at the fundraiser of course, but let me know what else I can do. Everyone I’ve told has just gasped in horror. I’m thinking of you guys all the time and I know you’ll be back better than ever. xoxoxoxxo miss you
Hey Scott, Shaaren and Ara,
We drove past the Argo on Sun and couldn’t figure out what was going on, and then heard about the fire yesterday. Our hearts go out to you and all your staff members – please let us know what we can do to help out. We don’t have any fancy DC contacts, but we are willing to help with blood, sweat and tears (or, you know, babysitting) if you need it. Don’t hesitate to ask!
Robyn, James, and Lauren (your Canadian neighbors across the street)
Scott and Shaaren and Argonaut friends – we are stunned and so sorry for the devastating fire that just happened to you.
But we are so proud of you all picking yourselves up and trying to think of the positives. Your tenacity and ability to look forward are some of the qualities that make you such a success. We wish we could be at the first fundraiser, but are leaving for MN that day for a family reunion. My mom is not doing well so I will be spending much of the summer there taking care of her. We wish you luck and hope this to be the first of many of your creative ideas!! (and of course you are in our prayers). We love you all! Debbie,Ed, Lindy and Robb
Hi Scott and family,
I don’t think we’ve ever officially met, but I live with my wife and two little kids on … and we are regulars at the Argonaut. It’s pretty much the only place we go when we go out. Anyway, we’re so bummed to hear about the fire and wanted to know if there’s anything we can help with. We definitely want to see you guys back in business as soon as possible and I’m sure you want the same. Seriously, let me know if we can help in any way.
Dear Scott, Shaaren & Ara ,
I’m so sorry for your loss! I read about Sunday’s fire and I would like to do a story on the incredible outpouring of support from the community. I tried calling the number listed on your website and reached a busy signal. The story would air on the 10 p.m. NewsChannel 8 newscast tonight (Tuesday, June 22).
I would like to meet with you at the Argonaut, interview you about the restaurant’s role in the community etc.
Please give me a call as soon as possible. My number is … .
Thank you and I hope to meet you soon!
I fully support a temporary change in the Argonaut’s license from restaurant to tavern. They have been a good citizen to our neighborhood and deserve any help we can give them. It appears that this is one of the things that can help and I am 100% behind it!
Hey Scott, Shaaren & Ara,
Just wanted to say that I am so so very sorry about the fire. Wishing you tons of strength and good will.
When my partner Natalie and I moved here 4 years ago from Austin, TX,I struggled with the adjustment to a “buttoned-up” type of city. Ithink I whined for the first 6 months about what I perceived as a lack of cool, non-annoying-hipster, casual, divey types of bars andrestaurants that you can find almost on every corner in Austin. A friend recommended the Argo and from the first visit, we were totally hooked. And it was even more lucky you were in our NE neighborhood! Every out-of-town guest we have ever had has been treated to dinner and booty beer at your restaurant and we always recommend it to other transplants looking for a place with great food, good beer and a chill vibe.
So again, wishing you tons of strength and patience as you go through this process of recovery and rebuilding. Please let us know if we can help in anyway. We’ll be at the fundraiser and will definitely do our part to drink (more than!) our share of booty once you’re up and running again!
Very best regards,
Rebecca (& Natalie)
Dear Ms Jenkins and ABC Board,
We are writing in firm support of the Argonaut restaurant’s application for temporary permission to function as a tavern to enable this neighborhood- friendly institution to continue business operations as it undergoes repairs. The Argonaut is one of very few restaurants within walking distance of our home and serves as an island of stability – and provider of good food and drink – to the community.
We urge you to look favorably upon their temporary tavern status to enable them to complete repairs and remain a key component of the rebirth of the H Street corridor.
Thank you in advance for your support in this matter which matters so dearly to the local community.
Marsha and Elliott
As you are now aware, the Argonaut suffered a temporary setback with the fire on Sunday. I believe the Argonaut and the efforts of their ownership have helped lead the way with the resurrection of H Street. They were one of the first on H to provide our neighborhood a place to enjoy a decent meal. They have proven to be good neighbors and an asset to our community.
The Argonaut is in need of opening as soon as possible to generate enough income to pay the bills (which don’t stop for hardship). AS they are licensed to be a restaurant, they are required to sell a certain quantity of food to maintain their liquor license. Since their kitchen was damaged in the fire it will be impossible for them to meet the food requirement for an unknown period of time while the process works to restore the kitchen. In the meantime, they are requesting permission from the Alcohol Beverage Control Board to change their liquor license from restaurant a tavern.
The goal of the Argonaut ownership is to function as a tavern and hopefully be able to grill food on an outdoor grill on the patio. Upon conclusion of the renovation, they will return to a fully functioning restaurant and return their license to a restaurant license.
I fully support this temporary change and I request that neighbors who wish to help email the ABC board to let them know you support this temporary change. The Board is meeting this Wednesday, June 23rd.
Please emails to the ABC Board care of: Martha Jenkins, Martha.Jenkins@ dc.gov.
I will be asking all of my fellow commissioners to join me in this request and I will be sending my own letter of support.
I love the Argonaut… they have been a good neighbor.
They have my full support. We need more business’s like them.
I am so sorry, I just heard about the fire. I don’t know many of the details but I wanted to let you know that I am thinking of you and your family and hope all of you are okay. I don’t know if there is anything we can do to help from Guatemala, but if there is anything you can think of, don’t hesitate to ask.
So I have apparently been living under a rock and just heard about the fire. I’m so glad everyone is okay, but I can’t believe what you guys are going through! I have class on Wed but will come to the benefit at R&R afterwards. Please let me know if there is anything I can do! I love you guys!
I was so sorry to see your FB post about the fire at the Argonaut. I’m relieved that the damage was limited to the kitchen, but I know that it’s still a devastating loss.
Scott’s (your?) comments about the Argo family was very poignant. We feel connected to it too. I am happy to have celebrated your new baby and our friend Joe’s marriage there. Please let me know what we can do.
You’re in our thoughts. I’m sending you positive energy!
I don’t even know where to start – so many good things to report!
Today, Scott met with thefire restoration people (that the insurance company hired to do our clean-up) so they could figure out the estimate. I have no idea what the estimate was since they give it directly to the insurance company. Hooray! It’s a huuuuge thing we don’t have to worry about anymore.
The restoration company will have two teams working. One will start on the upstairs on Saturday (which is why we’re spending today getting everything out). I believe they’ll also be working on the dining room, eventually. They know a salvage place that has flooring similar to ours (which was originally from a barn in Pennsylvania) and will clean and restore everything that needs it. They should be able to get the windows in relatively soon – and that’ll be really nice. It’s really dark in there, obviously, so it’s hard to see (or remember) what the damage is.
The second team won’t be able to start working until the investigations are completed – we’re hoping that it’ll be next week sometime. (Assuming our other insurance company does their investigation quickly.) They’ll gut everything – including the bar. I’m guessing that with the ever-increasing badness from the freezer/fridge situation, more stuff will need to be removed than previously thought. (We still have to figure out how permitting works for this, but we’re trying to do everything exactly the way it’s supposed to be done.)
If anybody wants to come help tomorrow (around 10), please do so. We need to get more stuff out and clean all the things that are going into the Pod.
We’re also hearing that our insurance companies are gearing up for a legal battle (not against us).
We also have hot and cold water to the women’s & upstairs bathrooms AND to the upstairs bar!
And, if all the stars align, we could be up and running sooner than a month. Fingers crossed.
So, again, lots of good news.
Some more thank yous:
- An enormous thank you to Cheryl for dealing with all the permit stuff! And being such a supporter!
- Thanks to Rasheed’s (next door) for letting us use some of their electricity for the cleaning today.
- Thanks to Gary (Capitol Hill Drain Services) for getting our water up and running.
- Thanks to Luis and Marco for building us a beautiful new door that blocks off the dining room (but still makes the women’s bathroom accessible).
- Thanks to Alan from Electrical Networks for all his help so far.
- Thanks to Noris for running to Restaurant Depot to pick up stuff for tonight and Antoine for cooking so much!
- And thanks to Robert and Scott from Belfor (the restoration company) for all that they’ll do over the upcoming weeks and months.
I’m not sure why yesterday was so hard. I mean, aside from the fact that the situation is hard. Both Scott and I just felt so…undone, I guess. I know I had knots in my stomach and kept having to remember to breathe. I guess it’s just painful to see our Argo languishing and not be able to do anything about it. Starting to clean the upstairs today really helped.
Plus, we’re at The Argonaut 4-5 times a week! Often those days change, except for Wednesdays. We’re always there on Wednesdays (barring the couple times Ara was sick, or the vacation we took last summer). So, every Wednesday for more than two years we’ve gone to the Argonaut for Family Night. In the beginning, we’d play Pub Quiz, too (well, to be fair, mostly we gave the smart people on our team support vs. actually contributing), but we were there.
Except for yesterday.
We spent it at home, just the three of us. And it was nice to just relax for a moment.
Tonight, all of our immediate Argo Family (current staff) is coming over. It was supposed to be low-key, but apparently, Antoine has gone a little overboard with food prep, and we’re in for a feast.
We. Can’t. Wait.
day 6. progress. and waiting.
Today was our first full day of work. It felt really good to be moving forward. We finished removing everything from the upstairs, inventoried and tossed all the damaged items (our dumpster is already filled up!), poured out all the upstairs open booze, and sweat. A lot. Scott reports that the last of the tables and chairs are being washed and put into the Pod as we speak.
Belfor (the restoration company) did their inspection and gave us an outline for their Two-Phase demo and rebuild. The two variables that could hold up progress are getting new windows and all the ongoing investigations…
They’ll start cleaning tomorrow morning and the best part? The investigators say that Belfor is allowed to remove all the rotting food! I know I keep mentioning it, but Food + 6 days + 90 degree heat = no good whatsoever. No good. I do not envy that job but am very appreciative that it’s going to happen.
Next week will be devoted to cleaning, spray seal (not sure what that is), painting, fixing the buckling floors and the roof. And hopefully windows (or a window solution). Then the dining room.
The investigators (who are rapidly multiplying, by the way: The DC Fire Department, both our insurance companies, the electric company, and our alarm company) won’t be done until sometime after the 2nd, so after that’s done(!), they can start on the kitchen.
This morning I added a couple more shots of the kitchen to our Flickr account. As I wrote before – the badge is on the left of the page.
Great time last night. So nice to see everybody! Since we work together (during the evenings) all of us being together at the same time for a social event is pretty special.
I had Keren print out some copies of the blog so that everybody (who doesn’t have a computer or access to the internet) could see how amazing you all have been. The Fire Inspector came to do a couple more interviews with people, too.
Today’s thank yous:
- Thanks to Chris, Jackson, John (patron), Debbie for working yesterday.
- Thanks to Melvin, Miguel, John (patron), John (host), for working today. John (host), Miguel and Melvin worked all day in the hot sun (and in the hot Argonaut!).
- Thanks to Kevin, Granetta and Shayla for watching Ara this morning while I helped with the cleaning.
- Thanks to Antoine for making such great food yesterday. And to everybody for coming!
- Thanks to Keren for printing out the blog posts.
- Thanks to the Fire Inspector for taking our picture after the interviews.
Thanks, everyone. Here’s most of us last night (we had some people who came late and missed the photo, and some others who couldn’t make it…)
And, some more love:
First I would like to say that we are very sorry for what happened on Sunday night. My name is Paul … and I am the owner of Vinoteca, a wine bar located on U Street. I am familiar with Argonaut and feel like we operate a lot like you, family orientated. We are currently looking to fill some open positions, and would like to try to help your staff who are out of work due to the fire. If you want to share this information with them, we would like to help out as much as possible. If anybody is interested they can contact …
Good Luck, and if we can be of any other help please let us know.
Vinoteca Wine Bar & Bistro
Hey Argonaut Peoples.
My name is Sean and i’ve been coming to the argonaut since you guys opened. i was once of those artists that used to come in on monday nights and do drawings there, if you remember us.
my wife and i i love the place and we were heart broken to hear of your fire.
I’m a decorative painter by trade and would love to offer you guys free painting help if and when you need it.
I can donate some paint that i have in stock too.
i understand that paint is prolly one of the last things you’re thinking about and i wish you guys the best.
let me know if you can use my help.
Dear Shaaren and Scott,
PD and I were shocked and saddened to hear about the fire at the Argonaut. I feel a great loss as I was just getting to know your place – and I feel a great sense of hope from the outpouring of community spirit that you will rebuild and rebound. We will be at the fundraiser next Wednesday – I’m so glad there’s something positive we can do right away.
Warmest regards, and blessings on your rebuilding,
On behalf of Theater Alliance
I am on the board of the Tenant Association at Senate Square Apartments, way down at 2nd & I / 3rd & H St. NE. Many of our residents frequent the Argonaut and we were horrified to hear about the fire.
On behalf of the tenant association, I would like to offer to host a fundraiser for you guys on one of our spacious roof decks or in one of our other communal spaces. There are more than 500 apartments in our community and we are now at more than 90% capacity, so we have access to a lot of people.
We try to be a positive part of the community whenever possible and I cannot think of a better way to do this than to reach out to you guys who give so much to our community. Let me know if you are interested or if there is anything else I or the the Senate Square Community can do.
Best of luck to you, your family and your employees,
Capitol would like to donate an older touch screen counter top game to the auction if you’re interested.
My name is Kyra and I live at … .
I don’t know what more to say other than I was nearly brought to tears last night when I realized that it was kid’s night at the Argo, but there would be no Argo to go to.
We are here to help, we will continue to support the business in anyway we can, be it drinking on the patio, attending fundraising events, or simply offering our verbal/written support.
And if you ever need a sitter, free of charge, we’d be happy to provide a few hours of non-tv time at our place, our 20-month old daughter would love the company.
days 7 and 8.
First things first. A week ago today, at 6:53:04 in the morning, 911 received the first of several calls about The Argonaut being on fire. The fire department arrived at 6:56:00. If those calls hadn’t come in when they did AND if the fire department hadn’t responded so quickly, The Argonaut would probably be gone.
Thank you so much.
(Ara got her fire fighter hat at Ward 6 Family Day yesterday. Still all gross from cleaning, we walked over there for the last 45 minutes or so. Nice to see everybody who was still there!)
Yesterday, Belfor started their clean-up. Wearing masks and remediation suits, they scrubbed and stripped and cleaned. They also fixed the roof. I was really hoping that the food situation would be taken care of, but since the day started out with our dumpster being taken away and returned (and since they don’t do dumpster dumps on Sundays) it seemed a bit inconsiderate to remove any food TWO days prior to it being able to be removed. Plus, they had their work cut out for them just with cleaning the upstairs!
Our electricians (with permission from the electrical engineer) were able to restore temporary power to part of the upstairs using a different meter (located in the basement), so Belfor can at least have lighting while they work. While they scrubbed our building, we cleaned everything that could be salvaged from the upstairs (bang boxes, unopened alcohol, memorabilia) and tried to make it fit in the Pod.
And we met with the wonderful, neighborhood architect who volunteered to help us out. There’s not much to do right now, but after the investigations are finished and Belfor can demo the area, he’ll be able to help us with plans.
Today, they removed the buckling floor from upstairs, sanded the subfloor, and prepared for the “new” floor installation to take place.
I know I’ve been going on and on about the stench, but really? It’s indescribable. I have a stomach of steel and I nearly threw up yesterday when standing inside the bar area. And my kid? She threw up ON THE PATIO this morning, and the front door wasn’t even open. So, you can imagine how thrilled we are that they also removed all the food this afternoon! A million apologies to anybody who has to smell it in the dumpster (we would have cleared it out last Monday if we had the option!), but we promise it’ll be gone tomorrow morning. And then we’ll give the whole outside area a nice power wash. Blech.
We brought home all the office paper work and stupidly dumped it on the bed to organize only to discover that it’s full of glass…particles. Bigger than sand, smaller than pieces, you get the idea. I think we’ve cleaned up the comforter. I hope, anyway. BUT, now when we can get back in our office, all the paperwork will be ready to go!
It’s been a little surreal today.
Last week, I had just gotten back from my run and was in the shower and could hear all the sirens flying down H street. Ara had woken up on the wrong side of the bed and I was trying to distract her with all the fire engines we could see out our bathroom window. “Look, Ara! Look at all those fire engines!” or, “Scott! Something big must have happened!”
Yeah. Something big happened.
But we’re still feeling so grateful and lucky. And supported. While sometimes it is hard to deal with, it’s almost impossible to feel sorry for ourselves with the support of an entire community. And that we’ll be able to rebuild.
The weekend’s thank yous:
- Thanks to John (host) for putting in some serious hours yesterday.
- Thanks to Richelle for coming down to help clean and re-pack!
- Thanks to James and Robyn for coming down to help (they read that we were looking for volunteers) – I could never have carried all those big containers of alcohol without you.
- Thanks to Gavin (the architect) for meeting with us (AND for volunteering his services). Amazing.
- Thanks to Bree and Mike for helping re-box the alcohol.
- Thanks to Will from Taphouse Graphics (Scott’s brother’s friend, who has been to Argo and who currently lives in California) for designing a graphic for our “fire” merchandise.
- Thanks to Nina, Mario, Lilianna and Natalia for watching Ara yesterday morning so I could help with cleaning. She loved her smoothie from Eastern Market!
- Thanks to Ricardo (and H Street Country Club) for dinner last night.
- Thanks to Belfor for removing all the food. Amazing. And thanks to Belfor in general. Last Sunday, the damage wasn’t as bad. But with all the heat, humidity, water, suppression chemicals and food badness, the damage is REALLY DAUNTING right now. Thank you.
So, the fundraiser. We’ll be there. Most of our staff will be there. On top of R&R’s complimentary cocktails, we’ll be selling fish tacos and sweet potato fries. And some other Argo classics – we haven’t decided yet.
We’ll also be selling some merchandise (t-shirts, shot glasses, coffee mugs) that wasn’t damaged in the fire. It might smell a little like smoke, but it survived! The t-shirts are the new black ones that our staff got to wear for approximately a week and a half before the fire. We’ll use the new logo for our online store merchandise – although we’re going to try and get some for Wednesday.
We don’t have an opening date yet, but it will be sooner rather than later. As soon as the fundraiser is over, we’ll begin working on a new, temporary, no-cook/quick-cook, summer menu. We’re thinking panini, roasted shrimp cocktail, potato salad with olive oil and dill, chilled soup, cole slaw – that sort of thing. We’re hoping to get a grill (but have to go through the regular channels) and then we can do burgers, etc.
All in all, we’re seeing serious progress already and feeling even better about the situation. Thanks to all of you for supporting The Argonaut (and us!) through such uncharted territory. We can’t wait to be back up and running again!
day 9. momentum! and awkward money talk.
Things are moving along really nicely! Belfor spray sealed today (we asked – it covers any remaining smoke odor AND acts as a bonding agent to put water-based paint on top of an oil-based paint. I’m not sure if we have oil-based paint or not, I think it’s mostly for the odor protection.) They also started taping and getting ready for painting to start tomorrow.
And the what-used-to-be-food is gone! We were a little worried (because the dumpster company wasn’t available to schedule a Monday morning pick-up – we just left a ton of messages!) that they wouldn’t be able to haul away our…food grossness, but they did! Hooray! We pressure washed the driveway where the dumpster was, and our entire dumpster area, too. And again, we’re really sorry if you were in the unfortunate position of having to smell it. Really, really sorry.
Belfor also pulled out all of the dining room furniture and cleaned it. Originally, they were going to remove and store it, but because of the rain, they moved it right back in. The good news is that most of it is salvageable. Tomorrow, somebody will come to see if they can match our floor, or if they’ll just remove it, sand and dry it, and re-install it. It really depends on the odor, and how much buckling there is.
We met with the electricians to go over what exactly we need to do to get power from the basement to the upstairs and the dining room. If we can figure out a power solution, we may be able to open the dining room along with the patio and the upstairs. Maybe.
The bad news? Our electrician got a phone call (from the powers that be) confirming his address (where they’ll send the official letter for the investigative meeting) and he asked if the meeting would still be on Friday. The answer was a big no. I’m writing this 4th hand (powers that be to electrician to Scott to me)and hoping I’m wrong, but this investigation could drag on for a longer than we had anticipated.
So, we started coming up with kitchen alternatives. There are companies that rent mobile kitchens, and if insurance would be willing to pick up that cost (we figure it’s less expensive than covering loss of revenue) maybe we really could get back on our feet earlier than anticipated. Scott left a message – we’ll see what they say.
Our t-shirt people will be trying their best to get some of the new t-shirts for the fundraiser on Wednesday. I looked into an online store (CafePress) to sell our merchandise, but we’d only get 10% of the profits, so we’re hoping our regular company can work with us. Otherwise, I’ll be the one handling orders (for what doesn’t sell at the fundraiser), and whatever we can afford to order later.
And now the awkward money talk. I had resisted this suggestion, but enough people have asked (I think because people can’t make it to the fundraiser?), so I finally created a PayPal account if people want to donate. (It’s on the top left of the screen.) Most (all?) of our full-time employees have found a couple shifts here and there, so the money would go to cover the difference and keep everybody (including us!) from losing housing, etc in the months to come. (We briefly thought that maybe we’d be able to find other stuff to do, but dealing with this has become more than a full-time job.)
As you can imagine, it’s really humbling to be in this position and we thank you all from the bottoms of our hearts. One of the phrases that has helped us a lot this last week has been “Adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it.”
And I think it says so much more about you all than it does us.
Today’s thank yous:
- Thanks to Melvin for working again today!
- Thanks to Belfor (again!) for having to deal with the food situation.
- Thanks to the rest of the H Street Family for finding jobs for our crew – H Street Country Club, Granvill’s, Capitol City Diner, Rock and Roll, DC9, etc. These are some of the places our staff is working – many more businesses have offered.
- Thanks to Lee Wheeler (our globe artist) for producing a couple globe lights for us already! Because of everybody’s donations, I think we’ll be able to put them all over Argo and they will be just another wonderful reminder of what an amazing community we’re a part of.
- Thanks to Joe Englert for helping us cover some payroll and supply costs to keep our momentum going, and for coming up with the mobile kitchen idea.
- And thanks to my husband, Scott. If this had happened a couple months ago, we wouldn’t have reacted in the same way, and I’m not sure we (Argo or us) would have made it. We’re not perfect people by any means and I’m really proud of all the changes Scott has made.
day 10. relieved. and a little overwhelmed.
Still moving forward!
I spoke a little too soon – turns out they spray sealed today, not yesterday. It was pretty fume-y, so I didn’t check it out (I had Ara with me) but I can’t wait to see what it’s looking like in there. Scott (from Belfor) showed us the hardwood flooring they’ll be installing upstairs – it’s lighter than the original floor, but since we need to get up and running as soon as possible, it’s fine by us!
They should be done with the dining room (cleaning, anyway) today. I believe they’ve begun ripping up the floor downstairs, too, and removing the benches. There was some talk of trying to reuse the flooring if possible, but I’m not sure what’s been decided.
Melvin and Scott gathered everything out of the server station(s) and brought it outside to be cleaned and organized. It’s amazing how much stuff we cram in there!
The structural engineer came to see what damage was done in the fire. There’s no real structural damage to the joists or any of the load-bearing beams.
Scott did a walk through with our building insurance company’s temporary adjuster (our regular guy is away) to go over what’s been done so far, and to check that Belfor is sticking to their time line. (Which they most definitely are!)
Just to clarify – we have two insurance companies. One for the business and one for the property. They’ve both been really great to work with. Our building insurance company also said today that it does look like the meeting (with the powers that be) will be on Friday, so that’s really good news.
We’re expecting to get a quote from Belfor about the rebuild (the estimates so far have only been about the demo) and we’re optimistic about the building insurance paying for all of it.
Unfortunately, our business insurance isn’t as extensive as the building one, and we don’t have “Additional Expense” coverage. Basically, no mobile kitchen for us from them. Back to the drawing board we go. It may be determined that kitchen equipment falls under the building (fingers crossed) so we could end up with a mobile kitchen after all.
Oh! And the odor situation is so much better! I mean, it doesn’t smell perfect, but the difference is like night and day!
So, Scott is feeling much better about things and is relieved about the insurance situation. Meanwhile, I’m feeling a little more overwhelmed about Argo’s finances (and our own!) and am just hoping we can get open soon.
And waiting for the investigations is hard. Even though I know we’re not at fault, for me it feels kind of like on television when the kid who is in trouble is waiting outside the principal’s office? And everybody (principal, teachers and parents, etc.) are deciding what to do? Yup. That’s the feeling, irrational as it may be. The outcome of the investigation will have no influence on us opening the upstairs, or insurance paying for the clean-up, etc., and yet, today when I think about it, I start feeling anxious. I’m sure, just like last week, that the anxiety temporary!
Scott met with Antoine and Noris (back of house) today to figure out food for tomorrow. We’re definitely doing fish tacos (large ones, not small – like at H Street Festival last year) and sweet potato fries. Tonight, some of our front of house staff is coming over to figure out who is going to do what at the benefit (selling t-shirts, fish tacos, etc.). Tonight, I’ve got to inventory our merchandise and make cards for the silent auction items.
So. Again, more progress.
- Thanks to Melvin for working again today!
- Thanks to Belfor – they’re really doing an amazing job.
- Thanks to Dave for coming out and looking at the floor and giving us the estimates on reusing the floor vs. matching it.
- Thanks to everybody who donated stuff to the silent auction.
- Thanks to all our DJs – I had no idea you were ALL playing tomorrow!
days 11 and 12. thank you. thank you. thank you.
There was not enough time in the day yesterday, but a lot got done. They removed all the boards upstairs (covering the windows) and put in our temporary and very window-like plexiglass windows! They’re beautiful! The real windows are still 4 weeks out, I think, so these are a great in-the-meantime solution. AND! The two windows that are above the men’s bathroom ceiling and the right front of the dining room (towards the point) will have kick-outs. Hooray for being able to update some safety things!
And they removed all the tables and chairs from downstairs in order to rip out the flooring.
And then the benefit.
You all are amazing.
We were guessing (based on Facebook rsvps) that between 150 and 200 of you would come. How many did come? A little more than 300! I’m still waiting for an official tally, but between the donations, Paypal, merchandise, and food, I think you all raised almost $10,000. And we thank you so much. You’re helping our staff buy food, keep their housing, take their kids to the doctor. I can’t even express how much this means to us.
Enormous thanks to Rock and Roll, especially Steve. On top of hosting and advertising, they were in charge of the booze and they went above and beyond. And thanks to their very hard-working bartenders for doing such a great job!
Thanks to all our staff! Front of house rocked the merchandise and food tables! And back of house did a great job making wonderful food in an unfamiliar kitchen!
Thanks to the DJs! I’ve never actually been able to hear any of them spin before (because of *somebody’s* early bedtime) so it was really nice to check out their talent. It looked like everybody else was enjoying them, too, so if you can’t wait to hear them again, you can see them all at Palace of Wonders on July 8th! They’ll be doing ANOTHER benefit for The Argonaut. Above and beyond, I tell you.
“Guest of a Guest” was there taking pictures. You can check the pics out here. They look really good!
Thanks so much for all the silent auction donations! Two days ago, we had approximately 6 items to auction off, but yesterday, that changed quite significantly.
Here’s who won what: (oh – and I apologize for how horribly I’m about to misinterpret how your names are spelled!)
Gretty Good tickets from H Street – Michelle Bawe; Negra Modela Neon Bar Sign – Brian Nowlin; Negra Modelo mirror – Sarah Beatty; Handcarved Wine Rack – Anna Lucas; Curbside Cupcakes – Bree Foran; Curbside Cupcakes – Bree Foran; Curbside Cupcakes – Blake Aredas; Curbside Cupcakes – Joe Gregor; Healthy Motions Hot Stone Massage – Elizabeth Horst; Healthy Motions Hot Stone Massage – Elizabeth Horst; Nats Tickets (july 10th) – Nadia Jamai; Nats Tickets (july 4th) – Phil Toomajian; Ron del Barrilito Rum – Liz Scott; Recycled Sweater Stuffed Animal – Neidra Holmstrom; Recycled Sweater Stuffed Animal – Liz Scott; Maya’s Eye Photography – Jami Spykerman; El Jimador – Blake Areadas; Negro Modelo Neon Bar Light – Martha Huizenga; Japanese Yukata (summer kimono) – R Webber; Wine Carrier and Port – Paul Longormann; Silk Japanese Top – Virginia Donnelly; Wall Climbing Party – Neidra Holmstrom; Traditional Japanese Matsuri Happi – Leonard Howell; Rock and Roll Hotel Presidential Suite – Kristen Barden; Japanese Sailcloth Apron – Kristin Staduru; Pev’s Paintball tickets – Mark Collins; “Wimono” – Catherine Cooke; Set of 2 sake cups – Kristin Staduru; Set of 4 sake cups – Linda Cendes; Set of 4 sake cups – Ben Laws; “The Argonaut” painting – Liz Scott; Set of 4 sake cups – Tim Yowra; Roller Girls Tickets and T-Shirts – Jael; Set of 6 sake cups – Leila George-Wheeler; Atlas Tickets – Leila George-Wheeler; Corona Extra Bar Light – Christine Lucas; Mega Touch Force 2007 – Charles Allen; Corona Extra Neon Bar Light – Karen Younkins; Japanese Doll – Catherine Cook
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org so we can arrange pick-up (or possibly delivery if you’re close). We’ll also be trying to call, but email might be the fastest.
It was really nice to see everybody last night. I hope you enjoyed yourselves as much as we did. I had no idea how much we’d miss seeing everybody during the week! (Another thing that we took for granted before, but will be even more grateful for when we reopen.)
Today, we went to the bank (thanks to you all!). And now, full-time employees can request money to supplement their housing/groceries/health care expenses. Normally, the whole family doesn’t go to the bank, but it seemed like a pretty big thing. (Plus, there’s a huge, saltwater fish tank that’s fairly mesmerizing. Check it out when you’re on Penn.)
The fridges and freezers in the basement have all been removed and the entire area has been cleaned. And it smells almost like normal. Hard to believe.
The rest of the dining room floor was removed this morning and now it’s almost completely bare in there. Scott says it looks like when they did the original build-out in June of ’05. It’s funny how much progress sometimes doesn’t look like progress.
Thankfully, we know it is.
day 13. headless chickens. and t-shirts!
Sometimes it feels like there’s so much to do and no time! Or, I just forget… For example, I forgot to write two things yesterday. One, was to thank my sister, Marissa, and her husband, Chip, for watching Ara while we stayed at the benefit. And for doing all our dishes! Very, very helpful.
And two, I usually respond to emails after 1:00pm (Ara’s nap time), so I apologize if there’s a bit of a delay in getting back to you.
Today, they started painting! We went with a very dark blue for the walls and a grey for the ceiling/trim. Because of the special white primer, they’re probably going to have to do two coats of the blue. Argo seemed so empty today (since it’s just two guys painting, and not an entire crew!).
Once the painting is finished, all the flooring can go in. Then, we’ll figure out electricity (from the basement meter) and…open! We hope.
Scott also met with Sean Hennessey (I believe this is his website? Please correct me if I’m wrong.) who volunteered to do some decorative painting. We were envisioning something small, but apparently, he’s going to paint two areas (the big wall with the two portholes, and another one)! I can’t wait to see what he creates!
Sadly, the powers that be did NOT have their meeting today. Sigh. Thank goodness that the kitchen investigation is not hindering progress on the rest of the building. Thank. Goodness.
Now, for t-shirts! Since we haven’t yet found a good solution to the online store business, here is our current inventory! (Very professional, don’t you think? Note to self: Check YouTube for proper retail shirt-folding! I can’t get my stacks to stop falling over!)
Middle Row: Current staff shirts. Argo crew logo on front and ship with “H Street Gathering Place” on back. From left to right, the piles are Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large, 2XL, and one remaining 3XL.
Front Row: Two 18 mos shirts with Argo crew logo on front. One 24 mos shirt with Argo crew logo on front. Then current staff shirt for women. From left to right, Small, Medium, Large.
They’re all $15/each. Also, at this point, merchandise sales will be going to pay for more merchandise and for some equipment to get us up and running. (Like, food for when we open, coolers for holding all the prepped food, and disposable dishes/cups/etc. You get the idea.) I’m going to add a separate PayPal button for sales, but until then, you can just use the “Donate” button.
So. If you’re interested in a t-shirt, please email me (email@example.com). If you’re close, Ara and I can bring them to you. If not, we can figure out alternative arrangements. We still have a lot of shot glasses and coffee mugs, too. I’ll find out what those prices are asap.
I think that’s it for today. We’re off to deliver some shirts!
Thanks, everybody! And have a great weekend!
day 14. sigh. and thank goodness!
So. Yup. Scott walked in this morning and discovered that we’d been broken into. Up until today, the criminal element had only stolen a cooler, some umbrellas, maybe a couple other little things, and had only attempted to break in. But last night (or this morning) they pushed in the air conditioning unit (after using some tools, I believe) and then (I’m not sure the order):
- broke the gum ball machine to steal all the quarters;
- opened the downstairs juke box to try and get the cash out of the collection box (there wasn’t any cash in there – it was removed the day after the fire);
- looked in all the downstairs bar cabinets;
- may or may not have fallen down the basement stairs – there are some broken bottles and a bar stool at the bottom of the behind-the-bar staircase.
The police said there were a lot of good prints on the window sill, the air conditioning unit, the cash collection box in the juke, and the gum-ball machine. They said they’ll hand the prints off to the FBI and we hope to hear something in a week. They seem confident that they’ll get a hit since a lot of these types of crimes are committed by the same offender.
We’re just thankful that there was nothing in there to steal. And, that it was a person hoping for money, and not just somebody looking to vandalize the place.
Scott temporarily boarded up the window and Belfor came out to make it more secure.
The police said they’ll also ask the department to drive by more at nighttime. And again, if you happen to be walking or driving by and see somebody trying to break in, pleeeeeeease call the police.
I’m not sure if the painters came today or not (we left to go deliver t-shirts), and I doubt they’ll be painting on Sunday or Monday.
Here’s hoping for an arrest in this case AND more substantial things to post on Tuesday!
day 17. paranoia. and getting closer!
Earlier this year, I had thought about doing the “poll thing” for some menu items we couldn’t decide on and I can’t believe I didn’t do it before! This is soooo much easier than having to decide ourselves! I think that tomorrow you’re going to get to decide on a sandwich!
So far (it’s almost 4 right now) 112 of you have voted and Gazpacho is in the lead.
Merchandise sales have been going well! No news flash here, I realize, but it’s been too hot for us to walk around, so I’ve got seven deliveries to make (and two to mail) tomorrow. Thanks for your patience!
The electricians gave us a better idea of how long it’ll take them to do their work, so we think it isn’t unreasonable to be open next Wednesday. Obviously, we will keep you posted!
Which means that we’re really trying to figure out how this is all going to work once we’re open. Besides the floors and windows (and bar area), the really major loss to the front of the house was our computer system. Using a loan, we bought that (previously owned!) system for about $25,000 (two years ago). It was beautiful: on top of orders going straight to the kitchen or bartender (instead of having to be walked up), staff could clock in and out on it, we can keep track of how much of which items sell, on and on and on.
Clearly, we’re in no position to replace it. So, today (thanks to merchandise sales!) we went to Staples and bought two simple cash registers ($200 total). One will be upstairs and one will be down and we’ll have staff members who are specifically in charge of them. We also bought time cards. Back to basics at Argo.
We’re still trying to hammer out a new menu. Right now, we’ll be relying on LOTS of coolers to keep our prepped-ahead food in. Ideally, we’ll have four sandwich options (and you’d be able to choose whether you want your sandwich hot or cold). If we can figure out a good recipe, they’ll be served with regular or sweet potato chips. And then there will be various side dishes, a salad, and the chilled soup you decided on (all prepped ahead and ready to serve).
Our beer menu will be much smaller (again, we’re having some serious space issues given that we can’t use the kitchen or downstairs bar), but we’ll stick with the top sellers. AND! I think I heard a rumor (okay, Scott told me, but I wasn’t understanding what a “cold plate” was, and he’s not here right now) that we’re trying to figure out a way to have two draft beers! No guarantees, but we’re trying.
So, that’s the latest.
Scott and I will be at the benefit that the DJs are throwing tomorrow at Palace of Wonders. Hope to see some of you there!
day 19. update. and merchandise.
Ara and I went and visited Argo this morning. The hardwood floors have been installed upstairs (in the back room, hallway and main bar area) and they look beautiful! And the paint looks really good, too!
And the electricians are working working working. They’re rewiring the entire upstairs (and eventually downstairs, too) using the meter in the basement. They’re installing (and re-installing) fire/heat/smoke sensors, too.
Scott has been putting his office back together so he doesn’t have to work in his make-shift patio office underneath all the umbrellas. He’s also been putting the pictures and art back on the walls.
And, he went to Restaurant Depot and bought a panini press! Normally, they’re $400something, but they were nice to us and honored last month’s sale price, so I think it ended up being $360something. If merchandise sales continue to go well, we might be able to get another one by the time we open. Of course, if anybody has a George Foreman-type grill or sandwich press that’s just collecting dust, feel free to pass it on.
Sean Hennessey (the artist who is donating his decorative painting skills) will start work tomorrow. I won’t show you his sketches (so you can be surprised!), but here’s his description:
“the smaller one is the space in the mantle.
lost treasure basically. a background of purple/gold. metal coins. and a ship.
the larger piece is a map on yellowish old parchment/paper, a little torn and burned in spots. mostly earth tones.
with a ship in the immediate foreground ( “we’re all in the same boat”.. kinda thing)
a boat, ropes, some skull/crossbones, etc…
i’ve based the map on old renditions so its a bit inaccurate and i think a bit more fun that way.”
I can tell already that they’re going to be AMAZING.
We got our power back this morning. Even though we don’t normally have air conditioning, we’re fairly committed to having fans. And a fridge! Last night was rough without them. Thanks to Kevin, Granetta and Shayla for letting us use their electricity (and for dinner!) on Tuesday night. And thanks to Bree for the same on Wednesday night!
And, merchandise. I figured (yesterday) that since it was “only” going to be in the 90s, that today would be a much better day to make deliveries. Turns out, though, that “only” 90s is STILL IN THE 90s(!), so we made it through 2 1/2 deliveries (I forgot to drop off a mug with some t-shirts. Oops.) before I told Scott-with-the-car that he was in charge of the rest. I think everybody who I’ve emailed with should have gotten their stuff today.
I think we’re going to bring shirts, mugs and shot glasses with us tonight if anybody is interested.
ps – Here are the remaining shirts:
The back row: the new “fire” shirts, left to right, in sizes S, M, L, XL. (Picture below. Thanks to Will Shaw from Taphouse Graphics for donating the logo! We LOVE it!).
Middle row: Mens’ Staff shirts, left to right, in sizes S, M, L, XL, 2X, 3X. (Last picture.)
Front row: Left to right, 18 mos and 24 mos. Then, Womens’ Staff shirts. S, M, L. (Last picture.)
day 20. finances. and gratitude.
Last night’s DJ/Roller Girl benefit went really well! Thanks to all our DJs and all the Roller Girls for putting it together and for all their hard work! And thanks to Palace of Wonders!
Right before the fire, we (Argo) had finished paying off all our loans and payment plans and were about to start living debt-free! We’re very thankful for that because if we had to deal with back bills on top of our current bills, it would have been really hard to open.
My point is that we are so thankful for you all and all your generosity. Online donations continue to come in. And the event last night raised $700! That number may seem small (when contrasted with the first benefit) but I can’t even tell you how much every bit helps. You’ve been able to provide some stability for almost all of our full-time staff and I know it’s humbling for them to ask… And we’re thankful that so far, we’ve (you’ve!) been able to help everybody.
I’m so glad that I asked about mini-grills! Thanks so much to Samantha Leaf for dropping off their “collecting dust” Cuisinart Griddler today! And thanks also to Katri Hunter for donating a George Foreman Grill – we’ll pick it up tomorrow. Two of our DJs (Mel and Shannon) think they both have grills and/or a blender to donate – we’ll find out soon. Thanks, also, to Matthew Welling for finding a panini-press sale online – we were too late to take part, but appreciate the heads up. We lost all our kitchen equipment, so if anybody has anything else that’s just lying around, please let me know. Again, you have no idea how much these donations mean to us (since the t-shirt money goes quickly!).
Which brings us to merchandise. Scott ordered the Fire Shirt (in sizes Small, Medium, Large, XL, 2XL, 3XL), both staff shirts (Mens – Small, Medium, Large, XL, 2XL, 3XL; Womens – Small, Medium, Large), our original shirt with “Best Booty in Town” on the back (in sizes Small, Medium, Large, XL, 2XL, 3XL), and kids Fire shirts (in sizes Small, Medium, Large). They should be in very soon!
We got word today (or yesterday?) that the building insurance company will be cutting a mortgage check for us (I think they’ll pay BB&T directly), so that’s good news! Hartford Mutual has been wonderful! We have asked the business insurance company about replacing some of our kitchen tools but we haven’t heard anything yet.
Today, Sean Hennessey started painting. Scott says it already looks good. He also finished putting all the art work back up. He did a walk-through with Belfor to see what else needs to be fixed, and met with the carpenter who will be installing the floors in the dining room.
Alrighty. Off to deliver more t-shirts! Thanks, everybody
day 23. t-minus two! (we hope!)
I can’t believe it’s almost here! There’s so much to do! And worry irrationally about: How much food to prep? What if we run out? What if nobody comes? What if the power goes out? What if… What if.. What if… (To be fair, these are just my worries.)
I worked on the kitchen-less menu last night.I think we’ve decided on one soup, one salad, two appetizers, five sandwiches, and one kid option. Katie Vlietstra generously donated herCuisinart Griddler AND a blender, so we’re in an even better position than we were before.
The electricians are re-installing the juke box today. And they think they’ll be done re-wiring by tomorrow. We hope.
Scott spoke with the business insurance company’s adjuster and is doing invoices for all the products we lost. Fingers crossed. (Like, all of my fingers. And maybe my toes.)
Still no powers-that-be meeting… Scott called the Fire Inspector to ask when we could expect to get a copy of the Fire Report, but I guess they can’t release it until the investigation. And the investigation can’t happen without everybody present. Something about the electric company and not knowing our correct address?
It’s raining, so perhaps no deliveries will be made today. Also, we’re still waiting for the new inventory to arrive, so there’s a chance that some of the later orders can’t be filled until tomorrow or Wednesday. I’ll email you if so.
I think that’s it for today. Thanks, everybody!
t-minus clarification. and info about tomorrow.
Yesterday afternoon I posted that we were “t-minus two” but I think this may have been confusing. I meant 48 hours from the time of posting (opening late afternoon Wednesday), not starting Monday morning. So, we are hoping to be open tomorrow, not today. I apologize for any confusion.
So, yes. Tomorrow. If the electricians, painters and construction guys can finish, we’ll be in good shape.
We’re hoping to open both the upstairs AND the patio. Of course, it looks like rain, so it may just be the upstairs, depending on when our new umbrellas arrive.
Scott has already ordered produce, so it should be arriving this afternoon. Scott is hoping to get a check today and then Antoine (back of house) is going to go to Restaurant Depot to get all the other stuff. Hector should be getting back today and then they (along with Noris) will start prepping. Teddy (from Granville’s) has graciously offered his services today, so he’ll be helping our kitchen prep at Rock & Roll. I think he’s going to be on “chip” duty since making sweet potato chips may prove more difficult than originally thought. Who knew?!
All of this means that we’re hoping to run with (at least some of) the temp menu tomorrow. We have no idea how much can get prepped today, how much cooler space we have, how long sandwiches will take to heat up on the panini presses/griddlers/george foremans, so please bear with us while we figure everything out.
So much to figure out.
And don’t forget to enjoy some beer – especially when we hit some snafus! We’re trying to be up and running with two kegs and 5 bottled beers. Hopefully, we’ll be able to figure that out today. If we can’t manage the kegs, we’ll still have bottles – I’ll try and post which ones after Chris comes in today and orders them. Same with wine and beverages.
Money. We don’t have a phone line right now, so no credit cards. Cash only.
Downstairs. The bar and kitchen are closed. (Obviously.) And, aside from removing the food (a week after the fire), nothing has been touched. (Except by the criminal who broke in, anyway.) There is a door separating the new side entrance from the dining room, and if the construction crew can build a wall (including a plexiglass window) between the dining room and the bar, we may keep the dining room open so people can (not all at once) come in and look at the least of the fire damage. Through the plexiglass. If the wall is built.
If, if, if.
[Two thank yous - I totally forgot to thank Kevin, Granetta and Shayla for taking care of Ara during the second benefit. They had their work cut out for them since I guess she had a hard time falling asleep not-in-her-own-bed. And thanks, also, for letting us stay the night with them! Air-conditioning felt soooo luxurious!
And thanks to my sister (Marissa) and brother-in-law (Chip) for dinner last night at Biergarten Haus!]
We’re having a staff meeting tonight to go over how to make everything run smoothly (or as smoothly as possible). We’re going to treat tomorrow as a soft re-opening. Or, more than soft. Squishy. (Since obviously, there are a lot of things in the air, and a lot of variables that we have no control over.)
We appreciate all of your support and we know that you’ll be patient with us as we work out all the details.
Sappier post coming later.
patio set up! and update.
Except for the pirate flag, anyway.
(The upstairs looks fairly different, the dining room will look a little different, and the bar/kitchen will be very different, so this is definitely a sight for sore eyes.)
So. Of course, as soon as I posted, some things have changed.
There’s a 50/50 chance that we will be able to use credit cards tomorrow. I’d still bring cash, just in case.
The food took a little longer to arrive, and kitchen time is limited, so we’ve postponed prep until tomorrow.
And Hector is back! Hooray! Such a dedicated employee, he walked directly from the bus station to Argo this afternoon. So Scott sent him home to get some rest before tomorrow’s big day.
day 25. sap.
I can’t believe that it’s only TWENTY-FIVE days after the fire and we’re able to open again.
Even though Scott has been working really long hours (so much so that Ara hardly ever sees him), and my half-time Argo job has become more than full-time (along with my stay-at-home-momma gig), this amazing accomplishment is mostly due to the following people:
HUGE thanks to Belfor. They have done most of the heavy lifting in this reno project, and we know it.
Thanks to all Belfor’s contractors (painters, construction), the POD people, the KMG dumpster people, Melvin, John, and Chris (some of our full-time staff who have worked a ton), and the RBS people who got our credit card system hooked up today.
Thanks to Electrical Networks, our electricians (whose rewiring is a work of art).
Thanks to Scott and Coastal Vending for getting us all set with tunes tonight.
Thanks to Hill’s Kitchen for helping us out with a food processor today. And all the kitchen equipment donations we’ve received from the community.
Thanks to Rock & Roll for letting us use the kitchen for 3 hours this afternoon. And HUGE thanks to Hector and Noris for prepping almost ALL the food during that time. And to back-of-house Antoine for roasting the pork.
And thanks to all of our staff who were able to come in and help us this afternoon so we could open tonight. Or, who weren’t working and came in tonight, anyway. And thanks to the places that hired our staff on a temporary basis – we know what an awkward position this is for everybody, and we thank you.
And thanks to all of you who came tonight. We really appreciate your business (like, REALLY APPRECIATE IT) and we hope you keep coming!
(I know I’m forgetting lots of thank yous and hope you’ll forgive me. I’m sleepy.)