Shaw Main Streets Holds Annual Meeting
Shaw Main Streets held its 13th annual meeting at the Marriott Marquis Washington Hotel (901 Massachusetts Ave. NW) on the night of March 23. After a welcome from Shaw Main Streets Board Chair Gretchen Wharton and Executive Director Alexander Padro, Anna Harvey, the director of the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development, spoke on her experience with the group over the years and how important it is for the District to support neighborhood businesses. Councilmember Brianne Nadeau lauded the success of Shaw Main Streets and added that she would like to expand the concept to other parts of her ward. Councilmember Charles Allen related his efforts on the DC Council to strengthen businesses and industries.
Padro gave a review of the organization’s past year. Shaw saw a total of 33 new businesses, with 2015 marking the first year that more new non-food enterprises opened than food and drink establishments in the Shaw Main Streets area. The openings created 300 new permanent jobs in Shaw. The organization won an Innovation on Main Street award from the National Main Streets Center in 2015 and is a finalist for the national Great American Main Streets Award in 2016, an honor that Padro promised Shaw Main Streets would bring back to the District in May.
Then the winners of the Best New Shaw Business of 2015 contest were announced. The winner, determined by email votes submitted by neighborhood patrons, was Rito Loco (606 Florida Ave. NW), while District Pilates (1302 Ninth St. NW) and Foundry Gallery (2118 Eighth St. NW) were runners-up. Rito Loco owners Louie Hankins and Daniel Diaz accepted the award, saying how happy they were to have opened in Shaw and thanking their customers for support of their business.
The meeting closed with the election of new members to the Shaw Main Streets Board of Directors. On the slate of candidates were Ali Kianersi (Colombo Bank), Christine M. Lopez (Roadside Development), Maggie O’Neill (Swatchroom), Angie Salame (Columbia Room), and Ben Tesfaye (U Street Parking). The slate was elected unanimously.
After the annual meeting the Marriott Marquis set up a reception for attendees on the hotel mezzanine. Fran Abrams of the Foundry Gallery expressed her excitement to be in Shaw, noting that since the gallery moved to the Atlantic Plumbing building it has gotten as much traffic in one week as it would have had in one month at the former Dupont Circle location.
Shaw Business Buzz Breakfast
Shaw Main Streets also held a Business Buzz breakfast at the Seventh Street Compass Coffee, March 15, as a meet and greet opportunity for local entrepreneurs. Hosts Harrison Suarez and Michael Haft announced that Compass Coffee was opening a third location on Sixth Street downtown. Courtney Snowden, the deputy mayor for greater economic opportunity, emphasized the importance of economic vibrancy to the District’s neighborhoods. Councilmembers Vincent Orange and Charles Allen reminded the crowd that a considerable part of the District’s procurement budget was available for small businesses and that the DC Council intended to make operating in DC easier for local enterprises.
Shaw Opens More Restaurants (Duh!)
Actress Linda Carter, speaking about keeping in shape post-Wonder Woman, noted that “Mexican food is my weakness. Thank God I live in Washington where it's horrible. They put in some tomatoes and bell peppers and call it salsa!” Well, that’s not true anymore after the opening of Espita Mezcaleria (1250 Ninth St. NW) in Shaw. Besides offering over 80 exotic, high octane mezcals, the restaurant has seven different salsas on the menu including a mescal-based borracha. Espita also provides a full menu of authentic Mexican ceviches, various mole dishes, and of course full-bodied tacos. The tortillas are made from heirloom corn imported from Oaxaca state in Mexico.
March also saw the inauguration of Takoda (715 Florida Ave. NW), which got immediate notoriety for its large rooftop “beer garden” that has a view on three sides. A dining room on the second floor offers the establishment’s extensive fare of beer, whiskey, and high-end bar food. Also opening was Kyirisan (1924 Eighth St. NW), the first DC restaurant from celebrated chef Tim Ma. Characterized as an Asian-French bistro, Kyirisan will offer a mix of new dishes and standards from his other restaurants such as Water & Wall in Arlington.
Parcel 42 Update
The deputy mayor for planning and economic development will hold an informational session on the development proposals for Parcel 42 on Wednesday, April 13, 6:00 p.m., at the Howard Theater. Parcel 42, a city-owned vacant lot at the corner of Seventh and R streets NW, is one of the few undeveloped properties remaining in Shaw. The session will enable the six development groups vying for the site to present their proposals to Shaw residents, allowing an examination of the size, aesthetics, retail amenities, and provisions for affordable housing that each could bring to the neighborhood.