Meet Joseph Kopser. Joseph is the CEO and co-founder of RideScout, a mobile application that helps users navigate cities more efficiently. After launching in Washington, DC in November 2013, RideScout is beginning to expand to other U.S. cities and has plans to make a big splash this spring. Joseph made some time to chat with FamousDC on how he plans on changing the way people travel.
Meet Joel Daly.
Joel is the Washington, DC host of CreativeMornings, a monthly morning talk aimed to gather creative folks for good coffee and good conversation. The free series began in New York by Tina Roth Eisenberg and has now been expanded to cities throughout the world.
Speakers are selected by each city chapter based on a global theme, and this month’s theme is Bravery. All of the available seats have already been distributed for this month’s talk with guest speaker Jason Steinhauer. Tickets go quickly due to the huge success of the series, but the series’ Twitter is a sure fire way to get the most useful information to secure a seat in the future.
FamousDC was able to chat with Joel about his role as DC’s host and learn what goes in to planning these highly anticipated monthly sessions.
“Put your money where your mouth is.”
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
“Just do it.”
For most people, such motivational quotes and clichés push them to meaningless action. They post the phrase on their Facebook, or they tweet how they will soon be making a shift in their career or lifestyle. Their friends click “like” while their followers re-tweet. Life goes on. Nothing changes.
Well, Will Sharp is not like most people.
“If you’re going to open the best ‘blank’ in the world, you’re probably not going to do it in Washington, DC,” said Sharp, founder of the Durkl clothing brand. “I wanted someone to have the mentality that DC has potential. I wanted to show and prove that the reason it’s not being done is because most people don’t see the potential.”
Will Sharp by Brittany Horowitz
Sharp, along with Toki Underground’s Chef Erik Bruner-Yang and Vigilante Coffee’s Chris Vigilante, saw the potential in DC and are bringing an innovative 6,000 square foot space, Maketto, to H Street NE in late 2013. Maketto, which means “flea market” in Japanese, will be a communal space that includes retail from Durkl, food offerings from Bruner-Yang and a coffee bar from Vigilante.
Durkl is Sharp’s first dream turned reality. He slowly started his clothing business in his parents’ basement in Kensington, Maryland. He began with a small collection and gradually added more to his offerings – outerwear, accessories – without sacrificing quality. Now, he lives a bicoastal lifestyle traveling from DC to Los Angeles, growing his brand, and impressively distributing Durkl far beyond the nation’s capital – even in Australia and the United Kingdom. Maketto will be Durkl’s first flagship store.
For Maketto, turning ideas into reality did not happen overnight. With help from the Popularise real estate crowd sourcing website, Sharp and Bruner-Yang were able to join forces to make the collaborative concept possible.
Locals already recognize Bruner-Yang’s talent from his popular Toki Underground restaurant, which is also on H Street NE. Some might find it interesting for Bruner-Yang to open a space down the street from his original restaurant, but it was an obvious decision for the chef.
“I moved to North East DC in 2007 and still live behind Toki. I wouldn’t have opened up this restaurant anywhere except for H Street. It’s where my home is and that’s the same reason why we are doing Maketto on H Street,” explained Bruner-Yang. “This is where I want to be, and I owe a lot of my success to the people around us that got us going. There is a lot of development going on, but we are still keeping our sub-culture.”
Sharp opened the doors to the unfinished space and provided a tour to FamousDC, explaining the layout and their vision. Maketto is designed to be clean, modern and open with indoor and outdoor spaces. Patrons are meant to loiter and flow throughout the environment as they please. “Take what you want to do, and take it anywhere,” explained Sharp.
The space will not feel like a restaurant, a clothing store or a coffee shop, and that is intentional. Grab a coffee, watch the kitchen prepping for dinner, admire the retail and come and go as desired.
A rainy summer and permit delays have slowed down the project’s completion, but Sharp emphasized that rather than cutting corners to meet a particular deadline the team is focusing on working with the best people and doing everything correctly.
Vigilante was added to the powerful team due to his expertise and passion for quality. While living in Hawaii, Vigilante learned about the art of coffee roasting and had his palette trained by a talented local. His skill can now be tasted throughout DC at various farmers markets, including the Glover Park-Burleith Farmer’s Market on Saturday’s and Eastern Market on Sunday’s. Vigilante also has a pop-up coffee shop in Mount Vernon inside the rum bar Hogo. In the spring, Vigilante won the 2013 Washington City Paper Best Pop Up in Washington DC award.
Maketto will be Vigilante’s first flagship location, and they will be taking raw green coffee and roasting it right in front of customers. After seeing the space for the first time it all began to settle in for its owner. “Last year, no one knew who we were. Now, we are working with two established brands,” said Vigilante. “Will and Erik are forward thinkers.”
For the last few months, Maketto has hosted a pop-up at Hanoi House on U Street NW where Bruner-Yang has experimented with recipes and provided those lucky enough to get a reservation with a taste of Maketto’s potential future offerings. The pop-up offers a family style dining experience complete with dim-sum carts and unique cocktails. Some of the offerings included a Cambodian spicy papaya salad, known as Bok Lahong, and a Taiwanese shaved ice dessert.
When Maketto officially opens, Bruner-Yang confirmed that there would be heavy Cambodian and Taiwanese influences on the menu.
The retail component of Maketto will be on the ground level. Sharp envisions Durkl merchandise being exhibited in glass displays and available for purchase at the turn of a key.
“This city has been underserved for a long time now. I wondered if people had taste here, or are people just not serving them? Is this a stop off point for a lot of people? Are we just a stopping point?” explained Sharp. “You can get away with subpar shit in DC. The coffee doesn’t have to be that good. The clothes don’t have to be that good. People just think that’s what you get in Washington.”
By combining DC’s local passionate talent, Sharp aims to make Maketto a space where the community can gather and see what the city is really capable of offering.
“It has to start with local people who care. They’re the people who know the market the best,” said Sharp. “You can see the changes happening in DC. There is so much to be changed, and when it does, it stands out. I like that.”
When Maketto’s doors open later this year, DC will be given an opportunity to truly see how the community has the power to make changes.
Follow the lead of the Maketto creators: Sign out of Facebook, stop tweeting and just do it.
Meet Elliot Spaisman.
Elliot and his fellow co-owner, Jeff Halpern, are the pair behind Astro Doughnuts, the new Metro Center eatery that has become popular for its gourmet doughnuts and fried chicken – both of which sell out daily. Elliot and Jeff are native Washingtonians, and they focused on the busy red line metro stop because of the heavy foot traffic. FamousDC had the opportunity to chat with Elliot to learn more about Astro’s tasty creations and why the Washington Post has it ranked at the top of its doughnut competition.
Meet Tony Velazquez.
Tony and his wife Teresa are the dynamic duo behind Georgetown’s Baked and Wired, an artsy coffeehouse that serves up fresh brewed coffee and delicious handmade baked goods – there are even treats for your dogs! Tucked away on Thomas Jefferson Street, Baked and Wired often has lines out the door that locals are always willing to cope with. FamousDC had the chance to chat with Tony, and he gave us the inside scoop on what makes Baked so addicting.
Meet Intern John.
John became infamous in the DC area the moment he joined HOT 99.5’s popular morning show, The Kane Show. From his “Loser Line” segments to his “Pitch Perfect” and “Saved by the Bell” references, John has DC’s commuters laughing in their cars as they tackle traffic. FamousDC had the chance to chat with John about his career move to DC and life in radio. Unfortunately, his adorable dog, Chuy, could not make it to the interview.
After they weren’t given a table at this year’s White House Correspondent’s Association Dinner, Buzzfeed decided to host their own viewing party and broadcast the WHCD live.
If we do say so ourselves, the night was a definite WIN.
Meet Lauree Ostrofsky.
Lauree is a local life coach, blogger and new author. Her new memoir, “I’m scared & doing it anyway,” was published this month and explores her experience with battling a brain tumor. Lauree can be seen around DC speaking at events and sharing hugs with loved ones and new friends. FamousDC had the chance to catch Lauree during the excitement of her book release.
Meet Libby Casey.
Libby arrived in DC after a successful career in Alaska, and she has made a name for herself in journalism as the host and producer of C-SPAN’s morning show “Washington Journal.” Libby was also a brave participant in a recent charity competition where she performed a standup routine. She was a standout (ba dum chh) among the other competitors with her Washington-focused C-SPAN riffs. Luckily FamousDC had the chance to catch up with her to discuss her career and comedy.
Meet Ericka Andersen.
Ericka handles all of the social media for The Heritage Foundation, but when she is not in the office she is managing her fitness blog, The Sweet Life. A visit to her blog provides followers with information on running and living a healthy lifestyle, but Ericka also likes to incorporate exciting moments from her life outside of the fitness realm. FamousDC got a chance to learn more about Ericka’s blogging success.