Thursday, December 21, 2006

brewskis in the firehouse? no thanks

Yesterday, Silver Spring Scene suggested that a brewery might open up in the old volunteer fire house in Downtown Silver Spring. It may just be a rumor, but the only thing I can ask is: why? Why do we need another brewery/pub in Silver Spring, and if we do - why there?

Any use of the firehouse short of tearing it down is a good use, in my opinion, but I'm troubled that this historic - and, might I say, very cool - building could go to an establishment that will attract mostly yuppies and people with deep pockets, as I doubt more blue-collar Silver Springers would put down a lot of money for a beer. Whoever runs this place will obviously make a huge profit, but it won't be a true benefit to our community.

Personally, I was rooting for a music club a la The Recher Theatre in Towson, the "Silver Spring of Baltimore County." It's a small venue that hosts a lot of pop and rock acts. Last August, I saw one of my favorite bands there and was blown away by how nice it was compared to similarly-sized D.C. venues like the Black Cat. The Recher put Towson "on the map," so to say - but it also created a place where people of all ages can go.

Of course, Downtown will already be seeing a second branch of the Birchmere for folk acts and, for the time being, we still have The Death Star hosting punk bands. And eight Metro stops away in Gallery Place, we might see a new House of Blues for everything in between. But why should we have to go into D.C. for music anymore? Silver Spring has been cast as an "arts and entertainment district," and there's nothing artistic or entertaining about a brewery to me. Between plans to tear up "the Turf" and the neighborhoods' strident opposition to a proposed skate park on Fenton Street, it looks like Silver Spring is quickly becoming the "condo heaven" the Express recently called it.

We could do a lot better. If a brewery is indeed taking the firehouse, I hope whomever holds the keys - the investors, the Historical Society (Jerry McCoy? Are you listening?) - reconsiders handing them over. As Silver Spring Scene said when the firehouse first came on the market, "Silver Spring needs another special attraction."

18 comments:

Sligo said...

Yes, it might bill itself as a "brewery", but like everywhere else that serves beer in MoCo, it will just be a restaurant.

Why would they build a music venue when the Birchmere is (supposedly) going in around the corner? Personally, I think it should be a bowling alley, if that's even practical.

Anonymous said...

First, "another brewery" in Silver Spring? Where is the first brewery? I'm thirsty...

Secondly, I like the Recher, too, but another 700-1000 capacity music venue would compete directly with the potential Birchmere, as well as the Black Cat. Seems much more redundant than a brewpub. And I don't think Recher put Towson "on the map" in any sense. Most acts who play there consider it their Baltimore stop.

I'll reserve judgment until plans are clearer; after all, these are just rumors. But if it's a place more akin to Hyattsville's Franklin's than another Rock Bottom, I'm definitely down. Maybe they'll open a Ram's Head-style palce, so we can both be satisfied!

And before I get called a damn yuppie (which I probably am), I'm all for keeping the turf and having a skate park. I just want a beer, too.

Anonymous said...

"...establishment that will attract mostly yuppies and people with deep pockets"

And exactly why is this a bad thing? Does this demographic ("yuppies") not deserve a place at the table, so to speak? Do "working folks" not also deserve an alternative to, say, a low-down gin mill? Or are they "supposed" to only frequent establishments that don't cater to "yuppies?" Must every development / re-development decision be based on criteria that all development MUST appeal to everyone regardless of their income or professional level?

Sounds a bit odd to me.

michaelraia said...

Bring the beer and open the taps!

There's only one semi-decent bar in downtown Silver Spring - McGinty's. A moderately upscale watering hole is the only thing missing from Silver Spring, the only piece of the puzzle that would draw more of the young professionals who live in Silver Spring to also spend their money there.

I like the Ram's Head-esque idea, Silver Spring needs a real bar to keep people in the area past 8:30.

jen said...

i voted for music venue in the silver spring, singular poll too!

it would also satisfy the need for bars in silver spring (for anonymous who is thirsty and wants a beer) - i'm thinking of a place like dc9 (or a smaller scale black cat) with a bar in one room and a different room where bands play. a smaller venue like that would not be redundant and wouldn't compete with the house of blues or the black cat.

anyway, the birchmere deal is far from a sure thing, the rumor now is that it will be scraped if the house of blues opens.

and to answer anonymous, one of the reasons that a yuppie establishment is a bad thing (not that a brewery would necessarily be yuppie) is that i personally do not want to go hang out with yuppies, nor am i willing to pay $9 for a beer.

Silver Springer said...

^ Don't you mean Silver Spring Scene poll?

Debbie Cook said...

Would someone please define yuppies(as used in these posts)? and I thought Blue Collar working people LOVED their Beer?!

Anonymous said...

There are ridiculous rants on here as to who is a yuppie and who isn't. The fact is that in years past, the so-called yuppies would have only been in 'upscale' areas. Sorry yuppie-phobes, but the cost of living in the DC area has gotten so high that aspiring yuppies are now flocking to Silver Spring where the cost is a little lower. There is nothing you can do about it and there is nothing wrong with it. While the yuppie-phobes are the first to scream 'but what about the working class?", they are the first to discriminate against those who they always perceive to have more than them.

A healthy community is one that has people from all walks of life and income levels. Look at downtown Silver Spring...despite its stucco laden boring architecture, it attracts EVERYONE and not just yuppies.

Conclusion: there is nothing wrong with having more upscale venues here and it will be a long, long, long time (if ever) before Silver Spring turns into a Bethesda.

jen said...

yes i meant the silver spring scene poll. i get my silver spring blogs mixed up.

maybe it's just me, but the way i use the term "yuppie" it's not an economic classification. i guess i'd call it a lifestyle choice. i have as much disposable income as your typical "yuppie" -- i just don't choose to spend it on $9 beer, overrated restaurants where i'm paying more for "the scene" than the food, or ann taylor clothes. (and, although i try not to stereotype people, i don't generally enjoy hanging out with folks who are into those things.)

what i'd like to spend it on, at least in silver spring, is inexpensive beer, inexpensive live music shows, and inexpensive dance nights. basically take the black cat, shrink it down, and move it to silver spring. oh, and a skatepark. which would ideally be free, but i'd be willing to voluntarily donate to its construction and operation costs.

Rfustero said...

I would like to se an Eastern Market type of establishment in Silver Spring-

Any more music establishments will lead to more noise, and late night crowds- many who may be inebriated- thus leading to vandalsim and loud behavior.

Recall that some of the people who have moved into the Dupunt area and the Adams Morgan area complain about the noise- gratnted the noise was there first- but the situation is reversed in Silver Spring- quiet residences that may become victims to loud noise and drunks.

Silver Springer said...

Isn't DuPont in the heart of a major city?

I have to laugh when I hear people complain about high-rises and noise IN URBAN AREAS.

Granted you don't want to hear it 24/7 but come on! When I see crowds of people enjoying them selves to good music to me that means a city is vibrant and alive.

Same goes for Silver Spring as well. 99% of Mongomery county is suburban/rural. Even rarer are places with urban intensity like Silver Spring and Bethesda. The people who want a more urban atmosphere can't even enjoy the small 1% urbanity that exists without the NIMBYs bitching. Not everyone wants a cul de sac.

If I wanted a rural/suburban atmosphere I would have moved to Germantown.

NIMBYs are suffocating Silver Spring and other urban places in the county. Instead of letting them become the true urban places that they are meant to be, people want to stifle the growth an hold them back from becoming true urban centers.

The beauty about Montgomery County is that we have very different environments all across the spectrum, from rural to urban. Very few conties in the country are like this. Why does everything have to be suburban?

I don't think people comprehend how impressive an asset Silver Spring and Bethesda are on a national level.

They could be a lot more competitive if you let them.

Anonymous said...

"I doubt more blue-collar Silver Springers would put down a lot of money for a beer." Any how many are willing to put down the money for an indie rock act à la the Black Cat?

It's nonsense to turn aesthetic tastes, be they for India pale ale or Sufjan Stevens, into a class-baiting ideology.

thecourtyard said...

Class-baiting isn't ideal (after all, might the Sufjan Stevens listener be the same one buying the $9 beer?) but I think seeing Sufjan for $10-$15 at the Black Cat outstrips a $9 beer any day.

jen said...

"the firehouse" (the name i'm giving to the imaginary music venue/bar that i'd like to see in silver spring) doesn't have to have indie rock acts, or maybe it would have some indie rock but a lot of other things.

the point is that people of ALL classes like to hear live music, but only rich ones can afford $45-$85 a ticket and only rich yuppies are willing to pay $45-$85 a ticket. the rest of us from non-yuppie well-off to working class are willing to pay $5-$12 (the typical prices at the black cat, and presumably at "the firehouse") to see ALL KINDS of music.

same thing with the beer. all classes like to drink beer, but only rich people can afford a $9 beer and only rich yuppies are willing to pay $9 for a beer. the rest of us from non-yuppie well-off to working class are willing to pay $4-5 dollars a beer.

the point being, it's the yuppies and yuppie defenders that are class-baiting if anyone is, by insisting on overpriced goods and services that most other people can't afford. the rest of us are looking for venues that everyone can afford and people of all classes can go and hang out and enjoy all kinds of music and cheap beer together (at least those that aren't so obsessed with status and class that they only drink overpriced beers in upscale "lounges" and disdain anyone in non-designer jeans). so i don't know how anyone can claim that being anti-yuppie is "class baiting." the yuppie lifestyle is based on class baiting. not wanting yuppie bars and yuppie stores in silver spring is the antithesis of class baiting - it's wanting a "town" where reasonable people of all classes can enjoy themselves together.

and btw yes, there are a lot of working class people that like indie rock. it's class-baiting to stereotype working class people as only liking... what? what does anonymous imagine working class people like to do with their free time? sit in their barcalounger and yell at their wives, a la "all in the family"?

ihateyuppies said...

Jen,

That was a beautiful post. Nothing more I can add here.

I have been fighting pro-yuppie boosters on these Silver Spring blogs for almost a year now. Their level of ignorance and arrogance is simply amazing. Yes, we need some upscale retail, restaurants, and condos in Silver Spring. But I believe in re-development that benefits ALL socio-economic classes! Right now, I only see developers catering to the single, $75,000+ in income crowd. Montgomery County continues to allow the middle-class and working classes to be priced out of the Silver Spring area. What a shame.

Anonymous said...

"I have been fighting pro-yuppie boosters on these Silver Spring blogs for almost a year now. Their level of ignorance and arrogance is simply amazing. Yes, we need some upscale retail, restaurants, and condos in Silver Spring. But I believe in re-development that benefits ALL socio-economic classes! Right now, I only see developers catering to the single, $75,000+ in income crowd. Montgomery County continues to allow the middle-class and working classes to be priced out of the Silver Spring area. What a shame."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't downtown Silver Spring have mostly inexpensive to moderately prices restaurants? Doesn't that benefit all classes?

" same thing with the beer. all classes like to drink beer, but only rich people can afford a $9 beer and only rich yuppies are willing to pay $9 for a beer. the rest of us from non-yuppie well-off to working class are willing to pay $4-5 dollars a beer."

Um, what bar sells only $9 beer?
A brewery would have a full range of beers, and $4 to $5 would be the norm. Am I wrong here?

urbannomad said...

$9 beer, give me break and stop over- exaggerating to make a point. Brewery's only charge between 4-6 for a pint depending on % alcohol.

Jason said...

One of the owners of this brewery is a local. What's wrong with a local (ex fireman might I add) opening a business in "Silver Springland"? It would be nice to see a few original businesses sprout up out the other than Maccaroni Shill, Red (faux)Lobster, etc.