Busboys on the Move
Busboys and Poets is leaving its space at Fifth and K streets NW, but fortunately for Mt. Vernon Triangle residents, it isn’t going too far. Actually, just across the street.
Facing a rent hike of 15 to 20 percent by landlord CityVista, owned by the developer Edens, Busboys owner Andy Shallal started looking elsewhere in the neighborhood, finally deciding on the former L’Hommage Bistro Francais at 450 K Street. The location will hold 40 fewer seats, but a $300,000 renovation, originally reported by Washington Business Journal, should provide an expansive feel similar to its current location.
Last month, Shallal and Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6E finalized the project with the signing of a settlement agreement, the mechanism that outlines the responsibilities of a business to maintain the quality of life for the surrounding neighborhood. ANC Commissioner Alex Marriott hopes that this agreement will become the standard for businesses moving into the rapidly developing Mt. Vernon Triangle (MVT).
Originally under the agreement, Busboys could stay open until 2 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. on Friday/Saturday. Lacking restrictions on outdoor entertainment, Busboys could technically host an outside concert until the wee hours of the morning, though, being a good neighbor, it would never take advantage of either of the provisions.
A new settlement agreement changes that. The new rules aren’t much more restrictive than what was in place. An establishment can stay open until 1 a.m. on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends but must close any outside space at 11 p.m. There is also a restriction on entertainment.
A number of other establishments have agreed to these restrictions. “As a restaurant owner,” said Dean Mosones of Prather’s on the Alley, “I want to ensure my business is competitive. As an MVT resident, I understand that how we interact with our neighbors is of equal importance. The ANC has shown that they understand and respect both business and community needs.”
“As one of the most beloved establishments in the City, we are happy to keep Busboys in the Mt. Vernon Triangle neighborhood,” explained Commissioner Marriott. “We appreciate their willingness to work with the community and their long record of being a wonderful neighbor to our residents.”
Universal Language of Starbucks
A special Starbucks is coming to NoMa. Last month, Starbucks announced that it will open its first Signing Store in the US, adjacent to NoMa’s Gallaudet University, the nation’s premier educational institution for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. The store will be located near Sixth and H streets NE, though the actual address has yet to be announced, and is set to open in early October.
The concept and design of the store, being created in collaboration with the ASL [American Sign Language] Deaf Studies Department at Gallaudet, was originally spearheaded by a coalition of Starbucks deaf employees and allies. They saw the success of a signing Starbucks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, that opened in 2016. The team visited the store and saw how such a deaf-friendly retail design could be implemented in the US. NoMa was a natural fit for this venture, given the strength and vibrancy of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community at Gallaudet and surroundings.
“This is a historic moment in Starbucks’ ongoing journey to connect with the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, hire and engage deaf and hard-of-hearing partners and continue to find ways to be more inclusive, accessible and welcoming to all,” said Rossann Williams, executive vice president of US retail for Starbucks. “This store is truly from partners, for partners, and we couldn’t have gotten here without the team of deaf partners and allies from our accessibility office and the Access Alliance partner network, who came together to bring this vision to life. I look forward to the team welcoming the community to this store in October.”
The store will employ deaf baristas who will wear aprons spelling out Starbucks in hand-signs and “I Sign” pins to indicate their use of ASL. But the engagement with the deaf community doesn’t stop there. Starbucks plans to use every intricacy of opening a new store to benefit deaf business owners and artists. The store will feature exclusive artwork and a special mug design by a deaf artist, and the aforementioned aprons are made and distributed by a deaf-owned business.
The new store will also incorporate the concept of Deaf Space into the design. Deaf Space is an approach that emphasizes the visual and kinesthetic ways all people, but especially deaf and hard-of-hearing people, interact with their environment. The concept was crafted and defined in conjunction with Gallaudet University in 2005 and has guided the creation of deaf-friendly spaced since that time.
“The National Association of the Deaf applauds Starbucks for opening a Signing Store that employs deaf and hard of hearing people,” said Howard A. Rosenblum, CEO of the National Association of the Deaf. “Starbucks has taken an innovative approach to incorporating Deaf Culture that will increase employment opportunities as well as accessibility for deaf and hard-of-hearing people, while at the same time educating and enlightening society.”
Taylor Barden Golden is a real estate agent with The Stokes Group at McEnearney Associates Inc. A former Hill staffer, Taylor lives in Brentwood with her husband, two dogs and a cat. She’s always on the lookout for new places to explore and ways to spend time outside. Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org; @rtaylorb.