The Spark Is Out … Sort Of
Earlier this month, Spark at Engine Company 12 announced that its final dinner service would be held before the end of the year, leaving neighbors shocked at word that their new, award-winning local joint would be no more. They wondered why such a popular and successful restaurant, which had recently received the Bib Gourmand distinction from Michelin, would suddenly close its doors.
The truth is, the venue isn’t closing but will no longer be providing dinner service as a regular restaurant. It is a victim of its own success, although that’s a negative connotation to what has happened.
Owner Jenna Mack started her career as an event planner. Her experience, coupled with the successes of chef Peter Prime in Spark’s unique and intimate venue, skyrocketed the requests for private functions. “We started to book up with so many events that would rent out the entire space on a weekend evening,” explained Prime. “It got to the point where we were shutting our doors to the public so often that it was no longer sustainable.”
Prime has also been splitting his time between Spark and his new restaurant Cane, set to open on H Street in 2019. With the change of pace at Spark, Prime is now able to devote full attention to the needs of each venue and is excited about the prospects. “We are now going to be able to use the [Spark] space for ‘fully curated’ dinners tailored to one group of diners. That’s when we get to play around with new stuff, explore new flavors and have a lot of fun. I really enjoy cooking this way.”
The private events at Spark are anything from corporate functions and parties to small weddings and showers. Mack has also shown interest in doing pop-up concepts in the space, though there is no set plan for that as of yet. For now, the space is booked every weekend for the first two months of the year, necessitating the change in operations.
So, they’re not closing their doors for good, but if you want to taste Prime’s flavors of the Caribbean at this North Cap location, you’ll have to plan in advance and get your friends to join.
Tributes for Tricia
It has been two years since the tragic murder of Bloomingdale resident Tricia McCauley on Christmas Day, which continues to rock the community to its core. The trial is over, with the defendant being sentenced to 30 years in prison, but those whom McCauley touched throughout her life still feel her loss and have made great effort to pay tribute to her life and spirit.
McCauley was heavily involved in many aspects of her community. She was a nutritionist and frequent volunteer of Common Good City Farm. She was a yoga instructor and an actress, most frequently with the Washington Stage Guild. Voices from each community have paid lasting tribute to the life cut short by tragedy.
The Washington Stage Guild has established the TLM FUND in McCauley’s name to help it make its payments to the Equity League Health Trust Fund, which provides medical coverage to qualified theater artists. “As an independent freelance performer, yoga teacher, gardener and artist, Tricia was acutely aware of how difficult it can be for those who do not have traditional jobs to obtain and keep health insurance. She often struggled to work enough weeks to qualify for Equity health coverage, as many of us do,” Washington Stage Guild Board President Laura Giannarelli told the blog DC Theatre Scene. “Tricia touched many, many lives. She was such a sunny, friendly person, exuding good will and serenity.”
Venus Theatre Artistic Director Deb Randall has written a play about McCauley’s life entitled “Living and Dying with Tricia McCauley,” and Venus has dedicated its entire season to her.
One of McCauley’s true passions was as a nutritionist and herbalist working with Common Good City Farm (CGCF) at the Park at LeDroit. The LeDroit Park Community Garden organization has partnered with CGCF to create the Tricia Lynn McCauley Public Herb Garden, in conjunction with the existing memorial garden within the farm. The park is being funded by the Tricia McCauley Memorial Fund, which was set up last year by CGCF and is taking donations for the public garden in McCauley’s name. Additionally, CGCF just put out a request for a resident herbalist program for 2019 that will use both the herb garden in CGCF and the new public herb garden.
“Tricia was crucial to the founding of the LeDroit Park Community Garden and one of the core garden leaders,” explained LPCG’s Chris Wagner. “The LPCG leadership had several priorities for 2018, including honoring Tricia’s legacy and creating more spaces open to folks that did not have a plot in the community garden. That’s where the idea for the Tricia Lynn McCauley Public Herb Garden was born. We’re excited to partner with Common Good City Farm to finish raising funds for the new herb garden and plan herbalism events for 2019. We think the new garden will be a great addition to the community.”
Friends and neighbors are ensuring that McCauley’s spirit and values remain alive in the community, most importantly during this holiday season.
Taylor Barden Golden is a real estate agent with the Stokes Group at McEnearney Associates Inc. A former Hill staffer, Taylor lives in Brentwood with her husband, two dogs and a cat. She’s always on the lookout for new places to explore and ways to spend time outside. Get in touch: email@example.com; @rtaylorb.