Vancouver-based Elephant & Castle claims to be “the premier operator of authentic British-style pubs in North America.” That “authentic” feel applies not only to style but also to size.
Real British pubs serve their ale in 20-ounce glasses that stand about an inch taller than your standard stateside 16-ounce pints. These vessels, which bulge out toward the rim, are the glassware you’d likely find in either hand of infamous English soccer star and off-the-field boozehound Paul Gascoigne back in the ’90s.
Elephant & Castle’s new location at 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW stakes a claim to the Gascoigne spirit. When it opened, on May 18, the restaubar promised patrons the full lager monty—20 ounces of such savory brews as Guinness, Boddington’s, Fuller’s London Pride, and Tupper’s Hot Pocket. To enjoy the across-the-pond cred of imbibing 4 extra ounces per serving, patrons paid just $1 more than the cost of the joint’s regular 16-ouncer.
But for a venue that tries to celebrate the British imperial system of measurement, it’s not so good at pouring an accurate pint.
Last month, a patron of the place complained to D.C. officials that Elephant & Castle appeared to be shortchanging customers on the exact size of its brews, providing either the wrong information on its menus or simply the wrong glassware.
“The glasses that they refer to as 20 oz. glasses are clearly only 16 oz. and the other 16 oz. glasses appear to be only 12 oz.,” the complainant charged in a June 8 e-mail to the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA).
Typically, issues involving the sale and service of such intoxicating suds would fall under the purview of the District’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration. But for the pint-size question, the task of counting the exact number of ounces fell upon the DCRA’s Office of Weights and Measures.
Acting on that complaint the next day, measurement-minded DCRA inspectors headed straight for the downtown venue’s self-described “antique bar, reminiscent of 18th Century Britain.”
What they found, according to an e-mail from Weights and Measures Chief Jeffrey X. Mason, was a chronic case of underpouring.
Elephant & Castle, Mason reports, had been running a promotion using glasses provided by local suds source Premium Distributors of Washington, D.C., that bear the logo of Belgian brew Stella Artois—glasses that turned out to be a bit too small to jibe with the bar’s listed
20-ounce drink special. General
Manager Sheri Needleman admits that those glasses could hold only “about 19-and-a-half ounces.”
Confronted about the size discrepancy, management “voluntarily removed all of that specific type of glass from the restaurant,” Mason notes.
But the problem, it seems, was more widespread. “An inspection of the remaining 16 oz. and 20 oz. glasses currently in use to serve beer revealed that they are not large enough to hold 16oz or 20 ozs. of beverage,” according to Mason’s e-mail.
DCRA inspectors offered the establishment two options to
correct the problem: “The merchant can either scale down the size that is indicated on the beverage menu or…acquire larger glasses,” says Mason.
Needleman opted to alter the menus. The pub no longer lists specific ounce counts and instead offers “Regular” and “Imperial” sizes of draft beers. Finding more-accurate glassware, Needleman says, would have been difficult. She suggests that no glass of beer is ever entirely full of liquid, due to the layer of foam that forms on top: “I think the issue is, does the head constitute part of the product?”
Adams Morgan dance club Crush reopened last month under new management and a new moniker.
After buying the business from prior owner Sal Gioia back in May, bartenders-turned-proprietors Mike Nolan and Stephen Goldstein have renamed the two-level nightspot “Nolan’s,” according to a sign out front.
Another sign posted on the venue’s door identifies the company running the place: “FUBAR INC.”
That corporate name, as military types or fans of Steven Spielberg’s 1998 World War II drama Saving Private Ryan might recall, is an acronym that means, according to the third revised edition of Richard A. Spears’ Slang and Euphemism, “fucked-up beyond all recognition.”
Perhaps an apt descriptor for a club located smack in the middle of booze-fueled Adams Morgan, FUBAR is actually a pretty popular term in the corporate world. City records indicate the existence of a D.C. business called Fubar Construction Co. Inc., which was registered as an official organization in 1978 but is no longer registered in D.C.
And a group of four businessmen in Vail, Colo., started up a filming company in 1989 called F.U.B.A.R. International, which documents natural disasters. “We often have people comment about our name being an old Army acronym standing for ‘F**ked Up Beyond All Recognition,’” according to the Colorado company’s Web site. “This was intentional from when we first founded the company. To be in this business you have to be FUBAR.”
But is FUBAR really an appropriate moniker for a business that’s supposed to serve alcohol responsibly?
The District’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board apparently had no problem with it. Though D.C. regulations empower the ABC Board to approve or disapprove of any licensee’s corporate or trade name, the mayorally appointed panel made no issue of Nolan and Goldstein’s word choice when it OK’d the transfer of Crush’s liquor license to FUBAR back on May 20.
Nolan explains that the corporate name was “done on a lark” several months ago. He insists that it’s not indicative of any sort of debaucherous way of doing business. On the contrary, Nolan envisions the club becoming “just a good social place where, you know, you wouldn’t be afraid to take your family.”
Two years ago, D.C. artists Matt Sesow and Dana Ellyn Kaufman began a rather regimented painting project titled “31 Days in July.”
Every day that month, the duo would scour the front page of the Washington Post, then get busy putting their brushes to canvas, each illustrating their own colorful-yet-totally-sick-and-twisted views on the day’s news.
Among the resulting 62 works of art was a Sesow homage to the Wizard of Oz titled Path to Peace, which shows childhood favorites Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion fleeing down the yellow brick road as a missile-launching helicopter bombs a fiery Emerald City.
Kaufman composed a landscape littered with dead, dying, and crushed waterfowl—including one with what appears to be a gaping bullet wound
—dubbed Sitting Ducks Meltdown, as well as a rather stunning portrait of obscenely obese humanoids, titled Livin’ XXL (Live Long Live Free).
“We came up with ‘31 Days In July’ together as a way to show how important it is as painters to document the times we live in,” says Sesow.
Not only did the creative couple manage to meet their one-painting-per-day goal, they also managed to make a little money from it. Sesow ultimately sold all but two of his 31 paintings. Kaufman sold six. They considered the project so successful that they repeated the whole process once again last July.
This summer, Kaufman thought about postponing the start of her annual monthlong paint-a-thon until August.
But on July 1, Sesow received an e-mail that made Kaufman change her mind. “AND WE’RE OFF!!!!” announced the message from a person calling himself the curator of an international art project not-so-originally titled “THE 31 DAYS IN JULY.” The e-mail also included a link to a Web site of the same name, which described the concept as “artists of the world united to create 31 works of art in the 31 days of july 2005.”
“I was like, ‘What?’” Sesow says.
The copycat project, it turned out, was the brainchild of New York– based cable-TV-advertising executive Gregg Hill, who’d earlier inquired about purchasing one of Sesow’s paintings.
Sesow and Kaufman were admittedly upset about their project’s surprise co-optation. The couple fired off e-mails to the rival curator, outlining, in Kaufman’s words, “the details of the project as we conceived it,” and asking to be given proper credit for its creation.
Feeling robbed of her intellectual property, Kaufman also scrapped the whole August idea and got busy on her third July painting binge.
Hill, however, declined to identify the couple as originators of his project. He replied that his initial inspiration was another source altogether: “I have always been interested in this project that started a few years ago where writers write a full novel in one month,” Hill informed the couple via e-mail on July 5.
That’s not to say, however, that Hill wasn’t fully aware of the duo’s earlier 31-day projects. “I was on [Sesow’s] website trying to buy a painting called ‘Mary’ which was already sold. Bummer. I noticed the 31 days, thought it was closer to what we had been getting toward,” he explains. At one point in his e-mail to the couple, Hill even referred to his project as “this other version of Matt’s idea for 31 days in July with Matt’s tilte [sic] ‘31 days in July.’”
The similarities to Sesow and Kaufman’s concept have apparently cost Hill one of his participants. New York– based painter, sculptor, and musician Jasun Martz has informed Sesow and Kaufman via e-mail that “now that I heard about your projects, I’ve decided to no longer be involved with Gregg’s endeavor.”
In an attempt to appease the aggrieved couple—and perhaps prevent an increase in the dropout rate–Hill has asked Sesow to become “the patriarch of this thing….The Godfather,” according to his e-mail.
All Sesow wants, though, is a little credit for the concept, as well as links to both his and Kaufman’s Web sites. “I’m so damn busy this month,” Sesow says of his daily painting efforts, “I can’t even think about taking other action.”
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Art accompanying story in the printed newspaper is not available in this archive: Illustration by Gus D’Angelo.