Axios D.C.

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πŸ™ƒ TGIF!

  • Today's weather: Cloudy with a high of 47. Chance of snow tonight! More on that below.

Today's newsletter is 892 words β€” a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: πŸ¦ͺ Chesapeake oysters are everywhere

Farm-raised oysters in Hoopers Island, Md. Photo: Edwin Remsberg, VWPics, Universal Images Group via Getty Images

It's a banner year for Chesapeake oysters after populations in Virginia and Maryland set record highs.

Why it matters: Local bivalve beds were decimated by the 1980s from overfishing, loss of habitat, and disease, but after decades of restoration efforts, their populations are thriving alongside oyster farms and fisheries.

What's happening: In Virginia, around 700,000 bushels of oysters were harvested in the 2022-2023 season β€” the highest yield in 35 years, writes Axios' Karri Peifer.

Flashback: The industry was well on its way to a recovery when the pandemic hit, and Virginia oyster farmers saw their sales drop by 95-99%, the Virginia Mercury reported.

Yes, but: It's back. Today, Virginia is the top-selling oyster state on the East Coast and among the biggest producers in the nation, according to the latest data from the Department of Agriculture.

Zoom in: In Maryland, the Department of Natural Resources "recorded a remarkable year for juvenile oysters" during their fall oyster survey, "finding prolific numbers and a widespread distribution throughout many regions of the Chesapeake Bay."

Zoom out: Maryland pushed hard to repopulate wild oysters, planting more than 1.7 million new juveniles on sanctuary and public oyster fishery sites in 2023.

  • The program has planted nearly 7 billion oysters since launching a massive restoration strategy in 2014.

Between the lines: Local oyster bars are booming, too, with chefs and restaurateurs capitalizing on their backyard bounty.

The intrigue: Some high-volume oyster bars even partner with local farms to grow their own "proprietary" Chesapeake oystersβ€”a mutually beneficial relationship where chefs get an exclusive product, often tailored to their taste (e.g. briny or sweet), and farms can grow their beds and sales.

Keep reading

Oysters on a white plate over a wood plate next to an oyster candle, loaf of bread
Local oyster-chic at the Oyster Garage. Photo courtesy of Rey Lopez

2. On our radar: New Baltimore oyster bar

The Urban Oyster chef Jasmine Norton. Photos courtesy of The Urban Oyster; Steve Vilnit

A Black woman-owned oyster bar, The Urban Oyster, just opened in Baltimore β€” the first of its kind in the U.S., according to chef/owner Jasmine Norton.

Why it matters: Norton, who grew up eating half-shells in Baltimore, tells Axios her goal is to make oysters more accessible β€” especially in the African American community, where she says there's a long history of oystering and shucking but not always enjoying the local bounty.

What they're saying: "We have some much history in the labor behind them, I want it to be about nourishment and connecting the storylines," Norton tells Axios.

Zoom in: She serves the oysters at a range of price points, and prepares them in fun ways for the raw bar-adverse, like chargrilled bacon-bbq bivalves or a riff on Oysters Rockefeller with collard greens, parmesan, and a crispy cornbread topping.

Full story

3. β˜ƒοΈ Snow incoming

Image: National Weather Service

D.C. could get up to 4 inches of snow late Friday, but the fast-moving storm is forecast to be gone by Saturday morning.

  • Weather models increased their snowfall forecasts to 3 to 4 inches of snow in the city. the Capital Weather Gang reports.

Be smart: Meteorologists are watching to see how early temperatures will dip below freezing tonight.

  • The low is forecast to be just at the freezing point of 32.
  • Heavier-than-expected snowfall is still possible.

4. Around the Beltway: Dogs rescued

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🚨 A man arrested after a 13-hour armed standoff on Wednesday is accused of mistreating dogs at his Southeast property, where neighbors noticed the stench of urine and feces. After the shooting that wounded three police officers, the Humane Rescue Alliance rescued 31 dogs from the house. (Washington Post)

πŸ”¨ The DC Tool Library β€” a volunteer group that makes construction and gardening equipment available for the public to borrow β€” is fundraising online after $11,000 in items were stolen this month. (DCist)

🌴 Kingman Island in the Anacostia River is undergoing environmental restoration after being used as a dumping ground. It reopens to the public today after being closed all week. (DCist)

Sponsored event listings

Stay booked and busy

Stay booked and busy

πŸ“…Upcoming events around the city.

  • Ice Yards 2024 at Yard Park on February 24: Enjoy a fun-filled event including a snowboard simulator and ice-carving demonstration, snacks, and other offerings from seven neighborhood dining and drinking spots.
  • Candle Making Worksshop with Elevation Lifestyle at Shop Made in DC - Georgetown on February 25: Dive into the world of fragrance and wax as expert instructors guide you through the process of creating a personalized aromatic masterpiece.

Hosting an event? Post an event.

Looking for other events? Check out our Event Board.

5. New, accessible style of D.C. Starbucks

Union Market's new Starbucks. Photo courtesy of Starbucks

Starbucks is opening today a first-of-its-kind coffee shop near Union Market that's designed with accessibility in mind, particularly for those with disabilities.

Why it matters: Moving forward, the new D.C. store will serve as a model for all newly built and renovated Starbucks company-operated locations in the U.S.

What's new: The "inclusive spaces framework" includes a bunch of new design features and amenities that make the shop more accessible for those who are hearing or visually impaired, or need mobile assistance.

Highlights include:

  • A custom "order status board" displays where items are in the queue β€” think a flight status board at the airport β€” and gives visual cues when orders are ready.
  • Mobile point-of-sale systems are adjustable for better visibility, offer voice assist and screen magnification, and show images "to support language diversity."
  • Lower counters with overhangs to better accommodate wheelchair access as well as people with service dogs or strollers.

What they're saying: Store manager Matthew Gilsbach, who is deaf, tells Axios that half of his staff are hearing impaired and that the store's employees overall "are a diverse group that reflects the community we serve in D.C."

More details

6. πŸ’ One proposal to go

Photo: Mimi Montgomery.

πŸŽ‰ Congrats to Mimi and her longtime boyfriend, Tripp, who got engaged this weekend in Wrightsville Beach, N.C., as their dog, Ziggy, supervised.

πŸ’ƒ Anna is going to see "Ain't Too Proud" at the Kennedy Center with her mother-in-law.

πŸ™, Mimi is extremely daunted by the idea of wedding planning β€” please send any/all tips!

Today's newsletter was edited by Alexa Mencia and copy edited by Patricia Guadalupe.