Shaw Streets

Ayeshah Abuelhiga wins a spot on Walmart’s shelves in the retailer’s Open Call competition. Photo: Mason Dixie Biscuits

Shaw Holds Open House

Shaw Main Streets held its spring open house for neighborhood businesses on Saturday afternoon, June 15. Twice a year the Shaw Open House event showcases both new and legacy businesses to the public. This open house focused on businesses south of Rhode Island Avenue.

People started the day lining up in front of the Grand Cata Latin Wine Shop to get passports to mark their journey among the 28 stops on the open house tour, with stops ranging from barbershops and hair salons to restaurants and wellness spas. The crowd got an incentive through the use of “Shaw Bucks,” $25 worth of coupons that could be used to purchase items during the open house, given to the first 100 people picking up passports.

The event ended at the Morrison Clark Historic Inn and Restaurant (1011 L St. NW), where participants assembled to eat and drink catered food on the hotel patio and turn in their passports for prizes. There were 34 different prizes raffled off, including gift certificates from famous Shaw restaurants, liquor and art works, as well as a cruise down the Anacostia River for eight people. Shaw Main Streets plans to hold another Shaw Open House in October, focused on businesses in the area north of Rhode Island Avenue NW.


Shaw Businesswomen Win Recognition

Two Shaw businesswomen have received major recognition recently. Tiffany MacIssac, owner of Buttercream Bakeshop, has been named to the James Beard Foundation Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Program, while Ayeshah Abuelhiga’s Mason Dixie Biscuits was a winner in the Walmart Open Call competition.

MacIssac is one of 20 fellows chosen this year by the prestigious James Beard Foundation. Now in its third year, the Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership program aims to support woman-identifying food industry entrepreneurs, restaurant owners and chefs, in order to grow their careers and scale their businesses. Fellows attend an entrepreneurship and leadership training program developed with Babson College that provides instruction on advanced business and finance topics related to enterprise expansion.

Earlier in the year, Abuelhiga’s Mason Dixie Biscuits joined the Chobani Incubator, the yogurt maker’s program to provide funding and mentoring advice to a select group of eight small packaged-food producers. The Walmart Open Call was established to identify US-manufactured products that could find a place on the shelves of the mammoth retailer. More than 500 entrepreneurs trekked to Bentonville, Arkansas, for the opportunity to make face-to-face pitches to Walmart’s buyers. Abuelhiga now has an agreement with Walmart to put her frozen Mason Dixie biscuits in their stores in fall 2020.


Shaw Wins in Washingtonian Reader’s Poll

When Washingtonian magazine released its Best of Washington issue, it had to recognize Shaw, of course. When it tabulated its reader’s poll, a number of Shaw establishments came out on top. All Purpose restaurant won for the Best Pizza in the city, while Sundevich was declared the Best Sandwich purveyor. The Columbia Room was named the Best Cocktail Bar, Maxwell Park was Best Wine Bar and Right Proper Brewing Company Best Local Brewery/Brewpub, while Nellie’s was Best Sports Bar. And finally, the Landmark Atlantic Plumbing Cinema won the poll for Best Movie Theater in town.


Banneker School Improvement Team Holds Community Meeting

The Banneker School Improvement Team (SIT), a group of stakeholders guiding the development of a new Banneker Academic High School at 925 Rhode Island Ave. NW, held a meeting for the community on Thursday evening, June 20, to review the current status of planning. The few community members that came were outnumbered by the government bureaucrats and contractors present. Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen and DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson also attended.

The proposed concept for the school has an east-west orientation, with a student entrance on Ninth Street and a possible entrance for community use facing Rhode Island Avenue. The building would be four stories high, which is just below the 60-foot height limit for the site. An illustration of the new Banneker site showed a football field, even though the school does not currently have a football team, on an area that is currently recreational space for the neighborhood, bringing objections from the community members. A geothermal system to support the heating and cooling of the new building is planned. When a question was asked about vehicle parking, the answer was that 44 parking spaces were planned. DC Public Schools has refused to consider building a garage on the site for use by the nearly 100 staff that the new school is anticipated to need.

Then there was a presentation on the construction schedule. The developers plan to apply for a raze permit in July and expect to get it in September. There were questions about the environmental impact of razing the old Shaw Junior High building. DC Public Schools responded that an industrial hygienist would be assigned to manage the process. When a timeline graphic showed both completion of design and full construction of the building in “winter 2019,” Mendelson objected that the chart oversimplified the process, reducing its credibility. The DC Public Schools staff explained that the graphic presented the construction process from “30,000 feet” and promised to provide a more detailed and accurate timeline.

Given the light attendance, there was a suggestion that another meeting for the community be held, perhaps somewhere in Shaw, such as the Watha T. Daniel Library. The Banneker SIT, in its meeting a week later, agreed to hold another meeting for the community, although it has yet to be scheduled. The email address for the DC Public Schools contact for the Banneker project is