Shaw Streets

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March Madness Crowd outside Ivy and Coney. Photo by Alexander Padro

Spring Comes to Shaw
Spring appeared to come to Shaw as the month of March closed. There were long lines at the door of the Cherry Blossom Pop-up one Saturday afternoon, while basketball fans waited at Ivy and Coney to get in to see the Loyola (Chicago) versus Michigan semi-final game. Cortez restaurant (1905 Ninth St. NW) has opened, brought to you by the same people who created Takoda a block away. Cortez has a tropical theme, with a color pallet reflecting the new move to bright pastels in bar design. Uprising Muffin Company (1817 Seventh St. NW) is hosting a new pop-up, The Cookie Jar DC. This second site for the company will open at 3:30 p.m., after Uprising closes, serving 10 flavors of safe-to-eat, eggless cookie dough.

Shaw Main Streets Holds Annual Meeting
Shaw Main Streets held its Annual Meeting on March 20, where it reported to the community on its progress in encouraging commercial development in the neighborhood. Board Chair Gretchen Wharton welcomed the crowd to the meeting, held at the Marriot Marquis Hotel, before Executive Director Alexander M. Padro delivered the organization’s annual report. He started by noting that Shaw was rated No. 8 among the 25 hottest real estate markets in the country. Over ten major construction projects had been started or completed in 2017. Shaw was developing a national reputation as a center for drinking and dining. Shaw saw 36 new businesses open last year, which represented 357 new jobs created. After Padro’s presentation, Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau came up to speak on how important she believed that Shaw Main Streets was to the development of commercial activity in her ward.

Then the awards for Best New Shaw Businesses were announced. The winner for Best New Business of 2017, as determined by a popular vote of neighborhood visitors and residents, was Seylou Bakery and Mill. In accepting the award, owners Jonathan Bethony and Jessica Azeez expressed their appreciation for the support of the Shaw community for their business, which officially opened in November. Runner-up in the contest went to Fish Scale, Shaw’s high end fish burger emporium. The second runner-up award went to Urban Athletic Club, the neighborhood’s gym and cross-fit center.

The meeting ended with the election of new members to the Shaw Main Streets Board of Directors. The new members are: Antwain A. Coward, owner of District Cryo, a whole body cryotherapy recovery and rejuvenation lab; Graham King, managing director of the Shaw gym Urban Athletic Club; Cheryl A. Lofton, owner of the tailoring company Cheryl Lofton and Associates; Ben Tesfaye, director of operations at valet parking and parking facility manger U Street Parking; and Warren Weixler, co-founder and CEO of SWATCHROOM, the noted Shaw-based design and art firm. After the formal meeting, attendees adjourned for a reception on the Marriott Marquis mezzanine, with open bars and catered snacks.

Shaw Restaurants Receive More Recognition
Despite the competition, Shaw restaurants are continuing to receive recognition for excellence. At the national level, Jeremiah Langhorne of The Dabney has received a finalist nomination from the James Beard Awards for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic region. The winners of the Beard Awards will be announced May 7. Also, Brent Kroll of Shaw’s Maxwell Park wine bar has been named one of Food and Wine magazine’s 2018 Sommeliers of the Year.

Shaw establishments are also well represented in the finalists for this year’s RAMMY awards, given to members of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. Chef Michael Rafidi, recently of Shaw’s Arroz, is in line to become the Rising Culinary Star of the Year. David Deshaies of Unconventional Diner and Rob Rubba of Hazel are finalists for Chef of the Year. Tiffany MacIssac of Buttercream Bakeshop is nominated for Pastry Chef of the Year. Espita Mezcaleria is in line to be designated the best Cocktail Program of the Year, while the Daikaya Group, which includes Shaw’s Haikan, could be named Restaurateur of the Year.

Right Proper Brewing is up for the RAMMY Regional Food and Beverage Producer of the Year award, as well as the award for Favorite Gathering Place of the Year. Finally, Shouk, the neighborhood’s vegan establishment, is up for Favorite Fast Bites restaurant. The winners of the awards for Favorite Gathering Place and Favorite Fast Bites will be determined by a vote of the dining public. The RAMMY awards will be announced on June 10.

Taste of Shaw Arrives April 18
Shaw Main Streets will hold the annual “A Taste of Shaw,” on Wednesday, April 18 at the Howard Theater. The eagerly anticipated event will offer food and drink from over 20 of Shaw’s world-renowned establishments. The Shaw Main Streets gala is the primary fundraising event for the economic revitalization and historic preservation organization. The gala will also present the Shaw Champion Award to a supporter of the Shaw Main Streets organization. Musical entertainment will be provided by the electric New Ethiopian Music star Yehunie Belay. Tickets are $80 in advance and can be ordered online at www.smsgala18.eventbrite.com. Tickets are $100 at the door. Go to shawmainstreets.org for more information.