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Like my predecessor here at Young & Hungry, I’m sort of obsessed with matchbooks. Once the most prominent form of restaurant promotional items, the striking souvenirs now seem like an endangered species, thanks to widespread smoking bans and other factors dwindling their numbers.
Every now and then, you read a story about how matches are making a comeback but, in general, the things seem bound for extinction. In the District, only a handful of venues still carry them, Old Ebbitt Grill and Madam’s Organ, to name a couple.
The other night, I thought I had stumbled upon a new D.C. hotspot now distributing the old trinkets: Mike Isabella‘s hugely hyped Italian joint Graffiato.
I spotted a stack of the tan-colored matchboxes, emblazoned with the eatery’s circle-G logo, at the hostess stand and immediately snatched one.
I was thrilled. Then I noticed something missing. Where was the coarse striking surface? I opened the box to discover not matches, but something else entirely: toothpicks!
Contacted through his rep, Isabella explains:
“Couple of reasons. One, I don’t smoke and two I don’t encourage other people to smoke. Also, I realize you don’t have to smoke to carry a matchbook. I use toothpicks often and so do a lot of other people.”
Photo by Chris Shott