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Photo: Trent Johnson

A Day In The Life with She Loves Me’s Megan Adams

If you’ve been on social media lately – ahem, you have – then you’ve likely seen pictures of your friends’ favorite pets. No, not the adorable cat who’s probably sleeping in a dark, cozy corner and not the silly looking dog who was probably on the receiving end of the cheese slice challenge. Rather, we’re referring to all the plants, succulents and flowers soaking up attention like it’s sunlight. One of the best places to learn about all things flowers and plants is She Loves Me, a small shop in Petworth that opened this January. The storefront is the brainchild of  The Lemon Collective co-founder Holley Simmons and features arrangements, succulents and workshops. One of the talented people crafting these beautiful works of art is florist Megan Adams. During a recent stop at She Loves Me, we talked with Adams about her early love of vegetation, how she expresses herself through the medium, and the differences between old school and new school practices.

On Tap: How did you get into this line of work? What drew you to plants and arrangements?
Megan Adams: I grew up in a really tiny town in Washington state – the other Washington. I was always surrounded by nature; my mother always had a garden and it was part of growing up. I always had this artistic need to express myself in some way, but I was a terrible painter and a terrible drawer. I tried sculpture and mixed media; I basically went through the whole list and nothing really ever spoke to me. I gave up on it for a little while. Eventually, I got involved in event production and wedding planning, which led me to meeting florists who I began working with.

OT: How does a florist become a florist? Is there school involved? Do you become an understudy?
MA: There are schools but they’re not that common, especially seven or eight years ago. [In the schools], there’s a very structured, traditional way of doing arrangements. I didn’t feel there was a ton of room for creativity. That was never something that appealed to me, so I went the route of being an understudy and working for an established florist who gave me the basis of her knowledge in Oregon.  

OT: What is the trial-and-error process for a young florist? How do you practice?
MA:
That is very much based on who you’re working with and who’s teaching you – where they picked it up. It’s definitely a passed down-type trait, especially with my style. When I started, it just sounded like fun. I wasn’t necessarily viewing it as my medium, I just kind of started working and doing holiday arrangements. All I did was make garlands and wreaths for eight hours a day. There was something so beautiful about being able to work with my hands – to have all of these separate pieces and to bring them together into one cohesive work.

OT: With art, there’s a freedom to fail. Do you feel that as a florist?
MA: Absolutely, that’s definitely part of it. I’m very lucky in the fact that I was allowed to mess around with stuff and figure it out. With that said, you’re working with perishable items that are not cheap. What I would do is take home flowers that we didn’t feel comfortable selling because they were about to die and just play with them. I also did a lot of foraging to practice at home.


Can’t Live Without
Her dogs
Family + friends
Coffee
Wine
Red lipstick


OT: What led you to She Loves Me?
MA: My fiancé is the general manager at [Chef Johnny Spero’s Georgetown spot] Reverie, and I was working at the restaurant.  I offered to do arrangements for them at cost. The running joke at Reverie is that they pay me in wine and cheeseburgers. Holley [Simmons] happened to come in for dinner one night. After finding out I did the arrangements in the restaurant, that led her to get my information and then she hunted me down a little bit [laughs]. Within 10 minutes of us sitting down and talking, we were sort of flabbergasted that our conversations felt so natural and we felt so connected – not only as people but in what we love and what we want to create.

OT: Do you think this field has always been popular, or is it in the midst of a revitalization?
MA: I think it’s always been popular to a certain extent. I think flowers and plant life are so beautiful that a lot of people are drawn to them. There’s definitely been a shift in that the very structured, old-school way of doing it has given way to people branching out, messing with different products and going off the beaten path. That’s what led to the classes that we’re doing.

OT: What classes are you part of?
MA: We do a springtime wreaths class, which is something that most people don’t think of. They associate wreaths with Christmas, holiday time, evergreens – this very specific version of what’s possible. Our concept is to take a flower arrangement or something that you have in your yard and create something that can be dried so it’ll last longer.

OT: I see plants on Instagram a lot now. What do you think makes them so popular?
MA: I think part of it is probably social media and being inundated with influencers and the people that have these beautiful setups. For me personally, if I ever lived in a place like New York City, I’d probably fill my house completely with plants because it would be a way for me to connect with what how I grew up, which is being surrounded by that life. It’s a combination of both. It’s interesting how powerful social media is in pushing trends.


She Loves Me Must-Haves
Sharp clippers
Good music

Fun coworkers
Good lighting
High-quality flowers + greens


OT: How do you approach newbies coming into the shop looking for their first plant?
MA: A lot of people that come in are nervous about it at first, but we pick up on it and we try to have plant life we recommend as starter plants for people. That kind of takes the pressure off, so even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can still have a beautiful plant in your living room.

OT: What are some misconceptions about working with or owning plants?
MA: I think the biggest misconception is that I just go and work with flowers all day, and it’s soothing and relaxing. There’s so much beauty in it, and to a certain degree it is relaxing, but you’re also lugging heavy buckets. There are boxes of vases and huge buckets of flowers, and that’s not even getting into installations. It’s a lot of work.

OT: What’s most rewarding about being a florist?
MA: I like demystifying the whole concept behind flowers, flower arranging and color concepts. I think that’s a big difference between the old school and new school, because traditionally you stick to two or three colors. What we work with is an entire palette, so it’s not just pink and whites – it’s all the different variations of that.

OT: How often do friends hit you up for last-minute arrangements? I feel like that would happen all the time.
MA:
It does, and I’m not all that great at saying no, so it actually does happen quite a bit. You’d be surprised how many wedding things I’ve put together last-minute. As soon as Pinterest got popular, people began to think they could do it all by themselves; and then a month out, they realize it’s complicated.

For more information on She Loves Me including classes, arrangements and more, visit www.shelovesme.com.

She Loves Me: 808 Upshur St. NW, DC; 202-627-2604; www.shelovesme.com

Photos: Trent Johnson

A Day in the Life: Call Your Mother Deli’s Daniela Moreira and Andrew Dana

There’s a calmness to Andrew Dana and Daniela Moreira, a laidback vibe that you wouldn’t necessarily associate with a young couple running two businesses daily. The pair are the driving force behind Petworth’s Timber Pizza Company and the newly opened Call Your Mother Deli in Park View, adding to DC’s growing community of local foodie spots with a mom-and-pop, neighborhood feel. Their “Jew-ish” deli has garnered much buzz since its October opening with lines out the door every weekend, yet another new business putting Park View on the map. We sat down with Dana (founder) and Moreira (head chef and partner) to pick their brains about how they put their own spin on a Jewish deli, why their bagel shop is at the top of every local foodie’s brunch list, and what supporting the local community means to them.

On Tap: Why does Park View feel like the right fit for your second business together? How do you think the area is changing?
Andrew Dana:
I grew up in Mount Pleasant, so I’m very familiar with the neighborhoods. For a long time, I’ve said that DC has been great at opening big, fancy restaurants and hip, new restaurants. But what it’s not good at is the neighborhood staples that have been around for generations because it’s such a transient city. We were really attracted to [Park View] because there’s not a lot of other noise going on. It’s really residential. People are putting down roots. The funny thing about this building is we looked at it before we opened Timber and then we found this really cute, perfect spot up in Petworth. Then we started turning the wheels on this bagel idea and this was coming back on the market, so it seemed like it was a sign from the bagel gods that they wanted us to open [our deli here].

OT: I heard you had lines down the block and couldn’t keep up with the crowds the first week you opened, so you closed for a little bit to rework your menu. Were you surprised at the spot’s overwhelming success right out of the gate?
AD:
We truly thought this was going to be like a neighborhood bagel shop and we’d have to do a lot of wholesale and catering to make it work. The kitchen’s not really set up for there to be a 100-person line, and that’s exactly what happened the first weekend. We had to shut down for a couple of days and make the menu a little bit more manageable. We had to keep up with the demand. We had to trim the fat and just go with the best of the best.

OT: How’s the buzz been since then?
AD:
Every weekend, we’ve had a line out the door down to the alley. Now, we’re really proud of the menu. It’s much tighter and more concise.

OT: DC’s seeing a resurgence of mom-and-pop foodie spots in up-and-coming neighborhoods, and they’re wildly popular. Why do you think that is? Why does it feel important to be part of that scene?
AD:
I’m from here so what I want above all is just for DC to be awesome. I went to grad school in New York and lived in Brooklyn, and [when] you walk around there’s pizza shops that have been around for 50 years. I want my hometown to have that same vibe, so that is what it is at its core. And the food, Dani and I just do what we like. We like the staples: pizza, bagels. And if creating stuff we really like resonates with people and helps the neighborhood out, that’s awesome. There’s not some sort of bigger master plan. It’s make food that we really, really like in neighborhoods we like and be here for the people.

OT: Did you hesitate at all with the “Jew-ish” theme? How did you decide to walk the line between the authenticity of a traditional Jewish deli and putting your own spin on it?
Daniela Moreira
: I’m not even Jewish. I was like, “I don’t know anything about Jewish traditions or anything.” So I was scared.
AD: I like “Jew-ish” because I’m half Jewish. I [don’t] think that binds us to traditions. If somebody says, “Why don’t you have chopped liver or pumpernickel?” We’re like, “Oh, it’s ‘Jew-ish.”’ And I think Dani is selling herself short. I think what Dani likes the most is the creativity and reading a ton and doing trial and error, which she got to do. She didn’t have all of these preconceived notions of what a bagel had to be. She’s from Argentina. They don’t have bagels. It was fun watching her start from scratch and learn what a bagel was supposed to be. We probably went through 100 recipes – that’s no exaggeration. She became a scholar of the bagel.

OT: I read that you did lots of research, including some trips to NYC. Was iconic Jewish deli Barney Greengrass on the list?
AD:
We went to New York. We did go to Barney Greengrass, which was awesome. We ate so many bagels, it was ridiculous.

OT: You also brought in bagels from other cities, right? What motivated those choices and what areas did you draw inspiration from?
AD:
We had bagels flown in from Montreal. We actually went to South Florida because that’s where all the older Jews retire – Boca [Raton], Delray. We were sort of taking it all in. Actually, how we finalized our [bagel] recipe is every weekend, we would do a blind taste test [versus] New York bagels that we would ship in. We didn’t stop until we were consistently beating that taste test.

OT: What staples of a Jewish deli were important to you to maintain?
AD:
The Rihanna-Flex is sort of like your classic salmon bagel, which we actually didn’t have the first week. The first week we were open, we had a classic pastrami with mustard on rye bread that we were making. It was just so crazy, it was too much, so we said, “Alright, let’s do a pastrami brisket cheesesteak” [The Greenberg]. There’s nothing totally classic on there – all twists.

OT: What personal twists did you each take? Dani, can you walk us through some of the Argentinian influences?
DM:
Well, we opened with a soup. It was a South American vegetable soup. But again, we had to change the menu to make it easier for the kitchen to execute so we took it out for now. We have black and white cookies – alfajores – filled with dulce de leche. That’s super traditional.
AD: It’s one big ass cookie.
DM: There’s no bagels in Argentina, not at all.
AD: But we have a za’atar bagel, which obviously isn’t Argentinian, but that’s also not classic. And I think we arrived there because when Dani is thinking about bagel toppings, it’s not classic, classic, classic. She’s like, “I like za’atar. I like bagels. Let’s make za’atar bagels.”

OT: What has been the most popular bagel on the menu?
AD:
At the farmers market, people do love the za’atar bagels. They [usually] sell out. And in the shop, our bacon, egg and cheese or pastrami, egg and cheese with spicy honey [The Shyne].

OT: What’s your personal favorite, or the one you’re proudest of?
AD:
I love the Craig D. We made a nectarine cream cheese with fresh nectarines that we got from the farmers market. [It’s] sliced nectarines, jalapeno, bacon and potato chips, so it’s sweet, it’s salty, it’s crunchy. And now that nectarines are out of season, we use apples, so [it’s made with] apple cream cheese and sliced apples.
DM: The Amar’e. The Amar’e is a za’atar bagel with candied salmon cream cheese and then a salad of pea shoots, cucumbers and crispy shallots. It sounds healthy. It makes you feel better when you eat it [laughs].

OT: You’ve got pizza and bagels checked off the list, so what’s next? Do you have a dream spot you’d like to open, either as a team or individually?
AD:
I mean, we’re animals and we eat nachos all the time. I don’t know if that’s a full-scale concept or not. Woodfired nachos would be a real thing too. That’s going to be a ways off. [Running two businesses] is taking a lot of energy and focus. We’re hunkering down here for a little while.

OT: What do you guys like to do when you’re not working? Do you hang mostly in Park View and Petworth?
AD:
We live in Petworth. We like exercising, travel, eating of course. We go out to eat all the time. We work out a good amount. Travel – she just got back from Costa Rica [and] I just got back from New Zealand. We’re trying to pick up squash this year. She wants to take lessons.
DM: Yeah. It’s fun.
AD: I’ll start taking lessons when she can compete with me.
DM: We’re not really fun.
AD: Yeah, we’re not that fun.
DM: We just go to sleep, eat, and that’s it [laughs].

OT: What cocktail bars and restaurants are on your radar right now?
AD:
I love Indigo, the Indian restaurant in NoMa, [and] Don Juan’s in Mount Pleasant.
DM:
I love Amsterdam Falafel[shop].
AD: She’s a French fry fanatic. It’s pretty scary, actually.
DM:
Bars? No. We don’t really drink that much. I only drink once a year when I go back home and that’s enough for the whole year [laughs], so I don’t really go out to bars here.
AD: We were at Players Club yesterday, love Players Club. My two great loves in life are basketball and food, and they have pop-a-shot basketball, so I played like 25 times yesterday [and] ate some Shake Shack. Life is good.

To learn more about Call Your Mother Deli’s menu, check out www.callyourmotherdeli.com.

Call Your Mother Deli: 3301 Georgia Ave. NW, DC; www.callyourmotherdeli.com

[FIRST PAGE HEADER IMAGE] Photos - Trent Johnson

 

Photo: Violetta Markelou // Wardrobe: Paul Stuart at CityCenterDC

A Day in the Life: CityCenterDC’s Timothy R. Lowery

Since breaking ground in 2011, CityCenterDC has maintained its 10-acre space as a hub of luxury retail, dining and living in its downtown location. Beyond its commercial use, the space has become a sight of interactive public art and activations that draw thousands of visitors to the spot each season. CityCenterDC’s holiday lights strung over Palmer Alley, designed by Swatchroom’s Maggie O’Neill, quickly became an iconic – and Instagrammable – view of DC during the holiday season. To get a better look at one of DC’s favorite holiday hangs, we spoke to Timothy R. Lowery, a director with the global commercial real estate firm Hines and general manager of the CityCenterDC project.

On Tap: How did CityCenterDC’s holiday display and tree come to be?
Timothy R. Lowery:
In November 2014, we debuted the tree and had a tree lighting. We didn’t know if we’d have 10 people or a million people. The first year, we had a thousand people and it was a wonderful evening. The second year, we had around 3,000 attendees. Last year, it was 6,000 people and this year, we [already] have 40,000 people interested in our Facebook event for the tree lighting. What that shows you is this appetite to be part of something.

OT: Aside from growth in attendance, how have the holiday displays evolved?
TRL:
Fast forward through the years, and we’ve added components like Maggie O’Neill’s Dream Closet, which is 400 ornaments over Palmer Alley. It’s amazing because the inspiration is the retail iconography of the clothing hanger made by different geometric patterns. This will be our third time having that installation up. It was always our intent to create traditions. This is a huge amount of land to build a project on. The thing I’ve been saying from day one is that we want to give traditions to the community. That’s the overarching theme for the holidays. We’re so grateful for the traction it’s received in the community.


Work Must-Haves
Morning Earl Grey tea
My planner with my daily schedule
An organized environment
My Montblanc pen
My eyeglasses


OT: How did art and installations become such a huge part of CityCenterDC’s identity?
TRL:
The art installations happened very organically. In 2015, we participated in the [National] Cherry Blossom Festival after one staff member suggested we order pink lanterns and have our engineers put them up as our nod to the cherry blossoms. We had 400 pink lanterns of different shades and sizes [strung] along the alley. Social media went crazy. We realized after thousands and thousands of posts on social media that there was an appetite for public art. That’s not incongruent with the planning of CityCenterDC; we always planned on having art. We have art installations in the park and the plaza from time to time but the alley was such an interesting phenomenon. It’s exciting but a bit daunting because you always feel like you have to one-up yourself. I think we’ll stay with four seasons. Anything more than that could be too much.

OT: Outside of seasonal programming, what other art is housed in CityCenterDC?
TRL:
Two years ago, we did the Fancy Animals Carnival featuring an artist from Taiwan. This year, we did The Loop, which evolved because a friend of mine posted a picture of the same thing from New York. I texted her and asked what it was and our team reached out to the artists and installed it here. There’s really this appetite for unique experiences. As a society, we’ve moved away from pure product consumption. People are looking for experiences. They still have products involved, but they’re going to go somewhere they can get an experience in addition to a product. We have tapped into that at CityCenterDC.


Can’t Live Without
Family and loved ones
iPhone
My watch
Postmates
CityCenterDC


OT: Tell us a bit more about your role at CityCenterDC.
TRL:
I’ve been here since the beginning as a part of the project before we ever even finished construction. I remain at the helm of day-to-day operations at the center. On any given day, there’s some artistic component happening. At the end of the day, there needs to be a cohesiveness to our brand, and I’m the one that makes sure it all comes together.

OT: What is the best part of your job?
TRL:
This really is the truth and not just because we’re talking about the holidays: every year, I get up and welcome everyone to the tree lighting. And as I stand there and look out over thousands of people who have come and respond to what we’re doing, that’s one of the greatest thrills I’ve had. Even from an architectural standpoint, if you build this thing and no one responds to it, of what use is it? When you see people coming and enjoying whatever it is you’re offering, that’s the biggest thrill. If it weren’t for those people finding comfort here and finding whatever it is they’re looking for at the moment, then this would all be in vain.

Follow CityCenterDC on social media @citycenterdc and learn more about holiday installations and events at www.citycenterdc.com.

CityCenterDC: 10th & 8th Streets in NW, DC; 202-289-9000; www.citycenterdc.com