Shaw Declared Best Gayborhood
Shaw won the designation of Best Gayborhood for the second year in a row in the 2017 Washington Blade readers’ poll of The Best of Gay DC. The list of Shaw bars getting accolades in the poll were Dacha Beer Garden (Best Gay-friendly Straight Bar), the Dirty Goose (Hottest Bar Staff), Uproar (Best Rooftop) and the Columbia Room (Best Craft Cocktails). Among the other Shaw winners were Compass Coffee (Best Coffee Shop), Cava (Best Fast-Casual Dining), the Atlantic Plumbing building (Best Apartment/Condo Building), 9:30 Club (Best Live Music) and the Atlantic Plumbing Landmark Theater (Best Movie Theater).
The celebration of the Best of Gay DC had to, of course, be held in Shaw at the Town Danceboutique. Among the notable guests were DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, Trans activist Gavin Grimm and NBC4 meteorologist Chuck Bell.
Shaw Keeps Winning
Shaw establishments also played a part in the Best of 2017 reader poll from the Express, published by the Washington Post. The list of businesses coming out on top included Compass Coffee (Best Coffee Roasters), Solidcore (Best Fitness Classes), the 9:30 Club (Best Music Venue) and Shouk (Best Vegan Place for Carnivores). The list of Shaw bars getting wins included All Souls (Best Place to Take a Tinder Date), Atlantic Plumbing Landmark Cinema (Best Bar Also Showing Movies), Columbia Room (Best Bar for Cocktails), and Dacha Beer Garden (Best Place to Drink Outdoors).
Hot Spot Rentals, a real estate blog, has rated Shaw No. Eight among the 25 hottest neighborhoods in the country. They based their rating on statistics measuring the factors of walkability, transit, budget, entertainment, lifestyle and weather. The only other DC neighborhood that made the list, U Street, was ranked at No. 11.
Queen of Sheba Ends an Era
Just as Shaw’s Queen of Sheba took third place for Best Ethiopian Restaurant in the Express poll, owners Nigisti Gebresius and Embzam Misgina announced that they had sold their restaurant and were moving back to Ethiopia. A two-day party was held to commemorate their time in Shaw with customers and neighborhood residents. When Queen of Sheba opened in 2005, it was one of the first to bring sit-down dining back to Shaw. The challenge by a local church to its application for a liquor license, based on obscure restrictions in the DC Code, led to a multi-year struggle to eventually change the law, opening the door to more restaurants in the neighborhood. The new owner of the restaurant plans to continue the service and reputation that Queen of Sheba has been known for over the years.
Shaw Forges the Future
When a dilapidated façade at 1537 Seventh Street NW became one of 25 nationwide to be eligible to compete for a $150,000 preservation grant from American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Shaw neighborhood mobilized to help. During the Shaw Open House on Oct. 7, Shaw Main Streets volunteers armed with tablet computers set up in front of the building to inform neighborhood residents how they could vote online to support its bid for the grant. A blacksmith even appeared to remind people of the 1881 building’s original use.
Then there was a full week of special events at Shaw businesses to promote the campaign. Dacha Beer Garden, Right Proper Brewing Company and Ivy and Coney offered free beers to people willing to vote in the competition. Sugar Shack offered free donuts to voters, while visitors to BKK Cookshop could enter a raffle for a $50 Beau Thai gift certificate. At Nellie’s Sports Bar, a photo booth was set up so that preservation supporters could get free pictures of themselves with the Sunday Drag Brunch hostesses. On Halloween, the last night of the competition, EL Rey hosted another free photo booth and offered free beers and margaritas to voters participating in the preservation contest. Unfortunately, Shaw was not one of the 10 top vote-getters at the end of the Partners in Preservation contest, so the façade will remain encased in stucco and siding for the foreseeable future.
Shaw Dog Park Howl-O-Ween
The Shaw Dog Park held its third annual Howl-O-Ween party on Oct. 28 at the park on 11th Street. It was the biggest celebration yet, with approximately 250 people and almost as many dogs attending. There was a costume contest, with the winners including “Mac Daddy,” a terrier dressed as a pimp, and “Donald and Melania Trump,” featuring a miniature poodle with an orange wig and American flag tie. The party ended with a huge raffle featuring prizes from neighborhood businesses that raised $2,000 to support the dog park.
Book Sale at Watha T. Daniel Library
On Nov. 18, the Friends of the Watha T. Daniel Library (1630 Seventh St. NW) will hold its next book sale. The Friends sales are known for offering thousands of recently published books, children’s and juvenile publications, along with CDs and DVDs, for sale, most for a dollar or less. The books available for sale have been supplemented by a donation from the notable used book collection of the Cleveland Park Library, which is currently undergoing renovation. There will also be a table offering books for free. The sale will go from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Nov. 25 is Shaw Business Saturday!
Nov. 25 will be Shaw Business Saturday, the neighborhood’s take on the eight-year-old national Small Business Saturday event sponsored by American Express, promoting the patronage of local businesses by holiday shoppers. Shaw’s celebration of the day will focus on newly opened businesses in Blagden Alley (Calico, Seylou Bakery), Ninth Street NW (1230 Restaurant, Nocturne Lounge, Gaslight Tavern) and the Washington Convention Center (The Unconventional Diner, Morris bar). “Shawbucks” coupons will be distributed in advance and printed in newspaper ads (See back page of this edition of Mid City DC!). The coupons will entitle bearers to $5 discounts at participating businesses in the neighborhood, encouraging holiday shoppers and celebrants to spend time and money in Shaw on the day and night after Black Friday. Free holiday craft making workshops for kids and adults, a free photo booth with holiday props, free hot chocolate and mulled cider, free recyclable shopping bags and other offerings will make the event a family-friendly affair. More information on Shaw’s Small Business Saturday can be found at shawmainstreets.org.
Pleasant Mann has lived in Shaw since 1980 and is a volunteer with Shaw Main Streets, the commercial revitalization and historic preservation organization supporting the neighborhood’s renaissance. He can be contacted at email@example.com.