A Sneak Peek of Old Maryland Grill’s Menu

Old Maryland Grill Mike Franklin College Park restaurant

Old Maryland Grill takes its name very seriously.

Mike Franklin’s soon-to-open restaurant at the Hotel at the University of Maryland in College Park will feature a number of signature dishes from around Maryland.

The owner of Franklin’s Restaurant talked with the Hyattsville Wire recently about the two and a half years of research he spent building the menu.

Appetizers include coddies, deep-fried balls of codfish and potatoes served between two saltine crackers with mustard which were first sold by Jewish immigrants from pushcarts in Baltimore in the 1900s. (The saltines and mustard will be made in-house.)

Alongside deviled crab and an Amish cheese board on the starters menu is smoked beet kitfo, a variation of a popular Ethiopian dish that is a nod to the sizable immigrant population in Maryland.

The lunch menu includes St. Mary’s County Stuffed Ham, a classic dish from Southern Maryland whose origins are shrouded in mystery.

The restaurant will also serve 24 beers and 16 wines from around Maryland. Local spirits will be used in all crab cocktails.

The dishes are all served with a focus on authenticity. “Nobody wants a deconstructed crab cake,” Franklin said.

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Inside the New Home of College Park Academy

College Park Academy public charter school

College Park Academy’s new location feels like a cross between a school and a tech startup.

The public charter middle and high school, whose students are chosen by lottery, moved into a brand new building in the University of Maryland’s Discovery District research park over the summer.

The Hyattsville Wire recently took a tour of the new facility and learned that the whole school is built around the latest technology. Classrooms come with giant touch-screen virtual chalkboards. The cafeteria has high-resolution video projectors for assemblies. Even the PA system has programmable audio and text cues.

But the most notable differences from a typical school are architectural.

The entire school was designed around College Park Academy’s curriculum, which features a blend of in-person and online instruction using Connections Learning, a set of online courses developed by Pearson.

Students take core classes like math in traditional classrooms from teachers who use the Pearson curriculum and related services as a base. They then take self-directed elective courses in subjects such as art theory and journalism led by online teachers.

They complete that work on their own in an “independent learning center” with high-top group tables, private study carrels and individual rooms.

“What the kids love is they’re not waiting for other people,” Executive Director Bernadette Ortiz-Brewster told the Hyattsville Wire.

The goal is to create students who excel at self-directed study, work comfortably both online and in-person and can quickly master new material—the kind of workers that modern companies are looking for.

In spite of all the amenities, Ortiz-Brewster said students were most excited about the most old-school upgrade not available at the old campus at St. Mark’s Church: individual lockers.

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See Mockup of University Park’s New Playground

University Park playground images elementary Maryland

Courtesy of the Town of University Park.

Construction on University Park’s new nature-themed playground will begin this fall.

Located on the current site of the tennis courts behind University Park Elementary School, the highly anticipated playground will feature a play area for kids aged 2 to 5 and another for ages 5 to 12.

The image above, which does not include the fence, accessible paths and nearby trees, is the most up-to-date rendering of the future playground, though some colors will change on site.

Mayor Len Carey told the Hyattsville Wire that construction on the playground will begin in October and November, and fence and access ramps will be built later in the spring as the weather warms up. The playground is slated to open in late March or early April of 2018.

Through the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the playground is largely funded by a a Community Parks and Playgrounds Grant

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The Perfect Lunch Spot: Art Walk

Riverdale Park has a fun outdoor lunch spot you may have missed.

Discovery District, the 150-acre research park run by the University of Maryland near the College Park Metro station, has an art installation, trails and outdoor seating.

Located on a roundabout on River Road, the Art Walk at Discovery District features several Mondrian-inspired colorful structures, hammocks, dozens of birdhouses and a green space that attracted a pair of deer and a flock of geese on a recent visit.

For the last two years, the area has also been a hotspot for food trucks, thanks to a special ordinance passed by Prince George’s County.

The Art Walk is at the epicenter of the research park, which is set to grow in importance in the next few years.

The College Park Academy, which currently serves students from sixth to 10th grade, recently moved into the new a 50,000-square building in the Discovery District.

Construction is also underway on an $18.5 million three-story office building overlooking the Art Walk, set to open in 2019. And just next to the roundabout will be a stop on the Purple Line, the 16-mile light rail line between New Carrollton and Bethesda, scheduled to begin running in 2022.

There are a handful of parking spots nearby and an mBike station, and the area is fairly accessible by bike.

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Meet Hyattsville’s Indie Rock Band, Blue Plains

Blue Plains Hyattsville indie rock band

Photo courtesy of Blue Plains.

An indie rock band from Hyattsville will play at Riverdale Park Station Thursday.

Blue Plains, whose sound has been compared to Radiohead, Mumford & Sons, and Wilco, will play a set at Bear Square near the Whole Foods Market from 6 to 7:45 p.m., as part of a fundraiser for the Food Recovery Network.

The band told the Hyattsville Wire that they wish they had more chances to play locally, though they have done a set at Vigilante Coffee and will be playing at the Hyattsville Arts & Ales Festival on September 23.

“Hyattsville needs a solid live music venue similar to IOTA in Northern Virginia or the Rock & Roll Hotel in D.C.,” said fiddle player Pete Daniels, who works as a producer at C-SPAN. “We did recently play at IOTA and were very pleased to see a lot of people from Hyattsville turn out.”

The band got its start when Lee Cain and Adam Ortiz, who both sing and play guitar, learned about their shared interest in music while chatting at a meeting of the Anacostia Watershed Society. Daniels later joined the two at their jams, and drummer Joe Hodgson and bass player Brandon Miller rounded out the group.

In May, Blue Plains recorded an EP on vintage analog tape equipment that was mastered by Smithsonian sound engineer and Grammy winner Pete Reiniger, who lives in Hyattsville’s Historic District.

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Maryland Breaks Ground on the Purple Line

Photo courtesy of http://bit.ly/2wgvLfq.

Maryland broke ground on the Purple Line Monday, 31 years after it was first proposed.

At a ceremonial event Monday, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao signed a funding agreement for the 16-mile light rail line, which will run from New Carrollton to Bethesda, with stops in Riverdale Park, the M Square research park, the College Park Metro station, the University of Maryland and Langley Park, among other places.

The ceremony marked the latest reversal for the Purple Line, which has faced just about every setback a U.S. transit project can face: A wealthy suburb that sued to keep the line from passing through, a last-minute decision from a federal judge that delayed construction, the election of a governor who was skeptical of the project and the election of a president who was broadly skeptical of mass transit.

The project’s saving grace may have been the public-private partnership being used to build it, which was a selling point for Chao at the event, especially as the Trump Administration eyes similar partnerships as part of its own infrastructure plan.

“We do not have the money for every project that needs to be done in this country,” she said at the groundbreaking.

The Purple Line is not in the clear yet. A federal appeals court will still hear from opponents who hope to stop it, but the groundbreaking marked the moment the project was past its most serious hurdles.

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University of Maryland Named a Top 20 School

University of Maryland College Park Route 1

The University of Maryland scored in the top 20 of a national ranking of colleges.

Money magazine’s list looked at 27 different data points, from graduation rate to student debt, to compile the ranking. But this list added another feature: how well students fared in the workplace after attending.

Using data from LinkedIn on skills listed by alumni combined with research on the market value of those skills, Money determined how well students are doing. It also scored how many students moved from low-income backgrounds to upper-middle class jobs.

Based on that data, Money ranked the University of Maryland No. 20 on a list of 711 schools, just ahead of Columbia University. The college was also notably cheaper than most of the others in the top 20.

These college rankings have become a cottage industry in recent years, spurred by the success of the U.S. News ranking (which placed the University of Maryland at 60th), the Wall Street Journal (96th) and Washington Monthly (56th).

Given the different ways each ranking measures colleges, any individual score doesn’t mean a whole lot. But doing really well, especially if you’re not Harvard, Yale or Princeton, can mean students who would have never thought about coming take a closer look.

That’s good news for the University of Maryland—and good news for Route 1, which benefits from having a bustling campus in its midst.

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Why the Mall at Prince George’s Is Booming

Mall Prince George's Plaza shopping Hyattsville renovations

The American mall is in trouble, but the Mall at Prince George’s is not.

While analysts predict that about a third of U.S. malls will close in the next few years, Hyattsville’s shopping center is undergoing a $30 million renovation.

The mall, which opened in 1959, recently added tenants such as H&M and is also adding big name brands such as ULTA Beauty, Macy’s Backstage and Designer Shoe Warehouse.

Here are a few reasons why it’s escaping the fate of other malls:

Competition: Many of the malls that are in trouble face a newer competitor down the road. The nearest mall is Beltway Plaza Mall in Greenbelt, which has a much different market segment. Other malls in Wheaton and Bowie are a pretty far drive.

Anchor tenants: Many failing malls have lost an anchor tenant. But Prince George’s still has Macy’s, Target and J.C. Penney as main anchors, and Old Navy, T.J. Maxx, Ross Dress for Less and Marshall’s as secondary anchors.

Location: The most troubled malls are in suburban locations. But Hyattsville is not exactly suburban. The Mall at Prince George’s is across the street from a transit station and surrounded by apartments, including new high-end rentals, guaranteeing foot traffic.

The Mall at Prince George’s will need to continue innovating in order to face the threat posed by online shopping. Even with the renovations, it still hews pretty closely to the older model of giant parking lots, without the open-air plazas and promenades that some redesigned shopping centers now feature.

But for now, it’s booming.

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University Park’s Secret Historic Cemetery

University Park has a Revolutionary War-era cemetery, but you’d be forgiven if you didn’t know about it.

Hidden on a quiet residential street in the historic district of University Park is a small cemetery for members of the prominent Deakins family, which owned the estate that was later sold to the town’s developers.

William Deakins Sr. bought the 224-acre property in 1758. His son, Leonard, who fought in the Revolutionary War, later inherited it. Here’s a brief bio from an architectural historian:

Leonard Deakins (born 1746) was a Revolutionary War leader; he recruited a company of men from the Georgetown area, was elected their captain, and served in several battles in New York. He was elevated to colonel before the close of the war. Deakins was active in the shipping industry in Georgetown, and also held considerable land in Prince George’s County.

Located on 41st Avenue in University Park, the Deakins cemetery has tombstones for 19 family members, including Leonard.

But there’s no public access, and you can’t see much from the street, so the cemetery goes mostly unnoticed by the general public.

If you are looking for a more public landmark, you can still see the original Deakins home from 1830, named Bloomfield, at 6404 Queens Chapel Road.

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An Interview with Streetcar 82 Brewing Co.

Streetcar 82 Hyattsville brewery craft beer microbrew

Mark Burke, Jonathan Cetrano and Sam Costner stand outside the future home of Streetcar 82 Brewing Co. Photo courtesy of Streetcar 82.

Hyattsville’s newest brewery is gaining a lot of attention.

Streetcar 82 Brewing Co., which is set to open in a former auto garage on Route 1 not far from Pizzeria Paradiso, will be a Belgian-inspired brewery.

The Hyattsville Wire caught up with the three co-owners, Jonathan Cetrano, Sam Costner and Mark Burke, for an interview about their plans.

When did you first begin brewing beer? How did you learn?

Cetrano: Around 2007-8 I was watching my brother become a mad homebrewer. He started growing his own hops and making these awesome beers. I really started to get hooked on the possibility of making my own beers when my brother made a spectacular pumpkin ale using the pumpkins he grew in his garden. I started to realize then that beer really was like cooking, and was much more than what I was seeing in stores. Then when I moved to D.C. and met Mark, I started brewing seriously on my own in 2010 and joined Mark on brew days. We’ve been brewing together ever since.

Burke: I first started in 2008 through a connection with a friend who had been brewing for a while. I became curious and started borrowing his equipment. At first it was the cool factor of bringing my own beer to parties. I really loved seeing people drink my beer and enjoying it. Then I got my first homebrew equipment kit from my in-laws for Christmas. I started out making beers from a kit, then challenged myself and started brewing beers from scratch. It started as just a weekend diversion and grew into a serious hobby.

Costner: I’ve never really been interested in beer. When I moved to D.C. and reconnected with Mark and met Jon; I was strictly a bourbon enthusiast. Mark kept telling me that there is a beer for every person. Then I had Mark’s Belgian dark strong ale and realized that Mark was right; there really is a beer for everyone. But to answer your question, I’ve never brewed beer on my own. I enjoy the business side of things and seeing the potential to invest in a community with something I’ve learned to enjoy.

How did you guys decide to go into business?

Cetrano: Really, like it says on our website we were at Mark’s “bar” in his house sampling different beers and we started talking about brewing beer and opening a small brewery. The idea appealed to all of us. We went home after that night and the idea really stuck with us. So we did our research and figured out the costs and after a LOT of discussion with our wives we decided to go ahead and do it.

Burke: The idea of owning a business had always appealed to me. So when we discussed the idea of a small local brewery, I became really excited. I wanted to bring a small brewery to Hyattsville. Prior to this, I worked with Sam and Jon and I trusted these guys. Deciding to go into partnership with them was easy.

Costner: The business numbers made sense, so I said “Yeah, I’m in.” All kidding aside, I really like the idea and the challenge of setting up a small business. It is exciting and I like the idea of contributing to the vibrant atmosphere of Hyattsville.

What made you choose Hyattsville? What made this specific part of town or building attractive?

Costner: It was Mark that really brought us into Hyattsville. I was open to other places but it was Mark’s insistence that Hyattsville was a community that would support us and welcome us that brought our focus here. In the past year and a half, I’ve seen Hyattsville grow tremendously, and have felt very welcome here. I joined Arrow Bicycle’s ice hockey team, played with Chris Militello and Chris Davidson, and have met many Hyattsville residents through Mark. It has really been a very nice town that has welcomed us with open arms. Hyattsville has also made an impression on my wife too. She loves the area!

Burke: I like to say that I am a Hyattsville man! We’re right in the D.C. metro area but at the same time Hyattsville gives us that small town/community feel that we can connect to.   It feels like everyone in town knows each other. Hyattsville has been going through a revitalization over the past several years, it has been nice seeing it grow. We want to be involved with that growth and become a part of the community.

Costner: Same as Jon, Mark convinced me that Hyattsville was the place to be as well. I like how welcoming Hyattsville is to creative enterprises, and how there is such a diversity of businesses along Route 1. I come from a small town in North Carolina and Hyattsville reminds me of my childhood town’s Main Street. The fabric of the community is there and it sustains and encourages local small businesses which I really appreciate.

Is there anything Hyattsville could do to encourage the local beer scene? Do you know the other brewers in town?

Cetrano: When we became serious about setting up a brewery in Hyattsville we met with Mike Franklin at Franklin’s to chat about our plans. Not many people would be thrilled about another brewery setting up shop down the street. But Mike was supportive and offered his thoughts and opinions about setting up a brewery. Since then we’ve met up with several other brewers locally and nationally. Stuart Eisenberg and Justin Fair at Hyattsville CDC have been great supporters of us and have encouraged the development of the local beer scene in Hyattsville. We look forward to continuing to work with Hyattsville CDC and the city of Hyattsville.

Burke: We do recognize that Hyattsville and the neighboring towns want more places to go to for some good beers and hang out. Town Center Market, Franklin’s, Pizzeria Paradiso and the soon to be open Maryland Meadworks do provide that craft beers/mead scene that people are are looking for. I’ve chatted with Mike Roy (Franklin’s), Matt Humbard (Handsome Beer Co.) and Ken Carter (Maryland Meadworks) They’ve been very supportive and have been enthusiastic about us joining their community. Waredaca Brewing in Gaithersburg has been a great resource for us as well. We would also love to do a collaboration brew with our brewery neighbors someday.

Costner: Hyattsville is very encouraging and supportive of our brewery and other creative/business pursuits in town. If that support keeps up then I can see downtown Hyattsville becoming even more vibrant and a popular destination. To encourage the local beer scene, Hyattsville could ensure that the Trolley Trail bike extension is complete and make downtown more pedestrian- and bike-friendly. The towns I’ve seen with vibrant beer scenes are often walkable and bikeable downtown spaces and encourage that type of flow.

Will people be able to stop in to try beer or will you just be using the shop to make the beer? Where will it be sold?

Cetrano: We will be a production brewery and plan to operate a tap room. In our taproom we will sell tasters, flights, and pints. For to go orders we will sell growlers, crowlers, as well as kegs. Out front, we will have a patio with seating for people to relax, enjoy the beer, and chat with passersby. We will encourage people to bring food or order from neighboring restaurants to eat on site and hope to attract food trucks on the weekends.

Costner: Our first year’s focus will be on selling through our tap room. As we start establishing ourselves, we we plan to distribute our beer to area restaurants and as growth permits, can our beer to sell at retail spots.

Burke: I’d like to add, we’ve been testing and tweaking our recipes in preparation for opening day. We’re always testing new recipes. Here are a few examples of what we have: Belgian Blonde Ale with locally sourced honey from Hope Honey Farm, Belgian IPA, Belgian Dark Strong, Saison with orange peel, and a chocolate stout brewed with cocoa nibs.

What kind of support do you expect from the deaf community? Any special outreach or events planned?

Cetrano: We are fortunate because we already have a lot of support from the deaf community. We will incorporate some sign language within the brewery itself. Our outreach will be focused on the Hyattsville community, bringing the neighborhood together.

Burke: That’s right, Jon. We see ourselves as a potential bridge to bring the community together. For example, maybe having an ASL-Beer class focusing on the natural social interaction people have around beer.

Costner: Like for example, the ASL App focuses on teaching users ASL for the purpose of daily interaction. Our space will be a place where that interaction and exchange happens–meeting and chatting with your neighbors. That is what Hyattsville is all about, right? But ultimately our space is really all about beer. The backs of our t-shirts says it all, “In pursuit of good beers!”

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