- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 27, 2005

Black Friday shopping perks weren’t limited to retailers this year. D.C. Circulator buses in front of Union Station and Gallery Place had free chair massages, hot chocolate and cider for busy shoppers Friday. The Circulator sponsored the “Holiday Express” buses to encourage shoppers to stay in the District to find their holiday gifts.

By noon, nearly 300 people had boarded the Holiday Express, said Bill Rice, a spokesman for the D.C. Department of Transportation.

“We’ve seen a steady stream of people,” he said.

Carol Schwartz, an at-large Republican member of the D.C. Council, shopped Friday and rode the Circulator from Union Station to Georgetown.

“We want people to think about D.C. for their shopping,” she said. “We’ve got marvelous stores here.”



The D.C. Department of Transportation is trying to boost the Circulator’s ridership numbers with the Holiday Express, which began running on the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season and the start of the District’s Sales Tax Holiday.

The city’s annual tax holiday eliminates the 5.75 percent sales tax for shoes, clothing and accessories less than $100. It lasts until Dec. 4.

“We’re working with the business community and the D.C. tax-free shopping season to promote people shopping downtown,” said Karen Meacham, Circulator project manager. “We want people to come down, do some shopping and use the Circulator to move around.”

The Circulator, which began service in July, averages slightly fewer than 4,000 riders on weekdays and more than 2,000 riders each day on weekends.

“We are focusing on holiday shoppers in general,” Ms. Meacham said. “Hitting the weekend crowd would be great, but we’re focusing on getting people out of their cars and using public transit.”

The Circulator bus is operated by the D.C. Department of Transportation, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and downtown business-improvement districts.

The Circulator’s route runs from Union Station to Georgetown and from the Convention Center to the Southwest waterfront.

Let’s eat

Let’s Dish! — a shop where customers prepare meals to cook and serve at home later made from pre-sliced and pre-diced ingredients — is opening its fourth mid-Atlantic location next month. The store is scheduled to open Dec. 7 at 6925 Oakland Mills Road in Columbia, Md.

“We have done all the hard stuff — all the grocery shopping, preparing of ingredients, chopping, dicing … And they assemble the dishes,” said Alexa Corcoran, one of the four owners of the Maryland and Virginia stores.

Customers spend an hour or two making eight to 12 six-serving meals. Menu items, available at LetsDish.net, include chicken in cranberry chutney and garlic herb-baked salmon and potatoes.

“We’re striving for healthier items, having homemade food again, but we’re not all Martha Stewarts,” Ms.Corcoran said.

Customers make reservations ahead of time and prepare their meals in a kitchen with up to 15 other customers. Prices come out to about $3 per serving.

The new location is already booked solid until the week before Christmas.

• Retail & Hospitality runs Mondays. Have news? Contact Jen Haberkorn at 202/636-4836 or jh[email protected]

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