Cedar Hill Bar and Grill

Sit-down Restaurant Returns to Anacostia

New staff at the Uniontown Bar & Grill are ready to serve you. Photo: John Muller.

It doesn’t matter what you call it, Uniontown Bar & Grill or Cedar Hill Bar & Grill, all that matters is that after nearly a year’s wait, a sit-down restaurant has opened at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE and W Street SE in Historic Anacostia.

With a soft opening of the first floor space last month, the best is yet to come; by early October co-owner Gabriele Tripodo expects to open the much anticipated second floor which will be a lounge space capable of hosting live music, open mics, and private parties.

Some changes have been made on the first floor. On a recent visit three flat screen televisions displaying the British Open, an NBA summer league game, and a professional soccer match hovered above the bar hugged by ten stools. Much heralded, the restaurant now has four beers on tap; Budweiser, Stella Artois, Michelob AmberBock, and Long Hammer IPA from Red Hook. “It’s the only tap in Ward 8,” Tripodosays proudly.

Near the door is a pair of small tables with seats on either side while in the center of the room there are three large rectangular tables each surrounded by six high-rise chairs.

When all the renovations are complete the facility will be able to accommodate 83 people upstairs for a total capacity of 151, including the downstairs restaurant,Tripodosays.

“I am a radical.”

When Tripodocame to the United States in 1990 he arrived in Dallas, Texas where he became a dishwasher. Within a decade he was in Washington, DC’s Capitol Hill neighborhood running a franchise of Port City Java Café and Coffeehouse.

In 2008 he purchased Union Liquors at the corner of 16th Street and Good Hope Road SE. During the five years thatTripodo has been in the neighborhood he has developed the reputation of being a fair merchant who applies the rules – such as carding anyone under the age of twenty-five and not allowing the sale of single cigarettes in his store – without prejudice.

Being a businessman in Anacostia is not easy. During our conversation Tripodoshows me his iPhone with an application that allows him to monitor more than a dozen cameras that keep watch on his liquor store and the restaurant. With a tap he can look at a camera that watches the interior of the restaurant. I raise my right hand which is reflected on his iPhone.

“I am a radical,”Tripodosays with a glint in his eye. “In this country if you have a dream you can make it happen with hard work.”

Of Italian and Eritrean ancestry, Tripodoproclaims, “I am American by law, by choice, and by love.”

Better Service & Quality

Despite the overwhelming enthusiasm that greeted and sustained the original Uniontown Bar & Grill, there was an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with the quality of service and food offerings.

But things seem to have changed. On my first visit, within two minutes, I was kindly greeted by Lataya Brown, a current student at the University of the District of Columbia who lives a couple of blocks away.

Brown, working as a waitress for the first-time, says she regularly came to Uniontown with a collection of her friends. “I loved it when it was open and I’m glad to be here now. It gives the neighborhood a place to come.”

With a current staff of twelve,Tripodosays he is still taking applications on a walk-in basis. “I would rather we are over-staffed so everyone gets the attention they need.”

The menu now offers four salads (Chef’s, Chicken, Salmon, and House), a “Waterfront Shrimp Cocktail” either deep fried or steamed golden, and soup of the day. Entrées include an overstuffed club, signature hamburger, Cajun chicken sandwich, and a 10 oz. Angus steak, grilled salmon, and a grilled chicken filet. An espresso machine will offer cappuccinos and other caffeinated beverages.

The goodwill the community and media afforded the former Uniontown Bar & Grill will surely return, along with commerce, as Tripodosays his goal is to “make this a positive place where everyone is welcome.” 

In the coming months the name of the restaurant will be confirmed as trademark issues have delayed a formal announcement. Then, Tripodosays, the restaurant will have a website and presence on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms.

Summer hours are tentatively scheduled for Monday thru Thursday, 11am – 12am, Friday and Saturday, 11am – 2:30 am, and Sunday 11am – 12am. For more information call (202) 450 – 2536.