Shaw Still Getting New Businesses

Shaw Streets


While the District remains in a Phase II lockdown to address the Coronavirus crisis, Shaw is seeing a steady increase in new businesses and newly reopened ones.

Rumi’s Kitchen (640 L Street NW) has finally opened after having its original date delayed. The Persian restaurant, led by chef and owner Ali Mesghali, is a sister to two well-regarded restaurants in Atlanta. Rumi’s Kitchen currently offers takeout and outdoor and indoor dining under the District’s restrictions.

Shaw Equity Project fundraises for Black Lives Matter. Photo: Pleasant Mann

Oyster Oyster (1440 Eighth Street NW) at City Market at O has also opened to provide its new menu of vegetarian items. Led by award-winning Chef Robert Rubba, formerly at Hazel in northern Shaw, the restaurant is currently limiting their offerings to four-course meals, in biodegradable packaging, available for pickup.

600 T, the basement speakeasy eponymously named for its address, has reopened as an open patio at the rear of the building. The 24-seat establishment is surrounded by wood panels that recreate the feel of ta speakeasy with the addition of a brightly colored mural. District regulations require the cocktails at 600 T be accompanied by food, which is currently a menu of popcorn (with berbere spice), beef jerky and savory nuts.

All Souls Bar (725 T Street NW), a favored neighborhood watering hole, has just announced that it was opening its outdoor patio for socially distanced parties. Its offerings had previously been limited to bottled cocktails since the District’s lockdown.

Some Shaw restaurants are coming up with popup themes to generate traffic under the current lockdown. The Columbia Room (124 Blagden Alley NW) has started Your Only Friend, an extension of the Hero sandwiches they started making in the spring. The popup is serving sub sandwiches, bar snacks and bottled cocktails from their famed roster of mixologists. Your Only Friend is serving on the Columbia Room’s garden deck and the Blagden Alley Streetery, as well as taking takeout and delivery orders. All Purpose Shaw (1250 Ninth Street NW) transforms from a pizzeria to a Jewish deli with its Delikatessen popup, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. It offers a full list of traditional delicatessen classics. The Brixton (901 U Street NW) is also hosting a popup on its roof called Coin Mezze. The menu of inventive Lebanese dishes by Chef Casey Bauer is available from Thursday through Sunday every week.

Dogs and Humans agree that Black Lives Matter. Photo: Pleasant Mann

The Shop at Shaw Starts Equity Project
The Shop at Shaw (1924 Ninth Street NW), the popular hair salon located in the Shay, inaugurated a new initiative, the Shaw Equity Project, on August 1. The project is asking neighboring businesses in Shaw to come together as racial equity allies to continue the momentum around the Black Lives Matter movement. Their first effort that Saturday afternoon was to hold a socially distanced block party “to support our historically black neighborhood with visibility and creative energy.” Snazzy Black Lives Matter T-shirts were sold at the event to fund the Whitlow Foundation, which provides micro-scholarships to students enrolled in an arts or culinary school who would not otherwise be able to afford school supplies.

Frank Love (foreground) at Gregg’s Barber Shop. Photo: Pleasant Mann

Frank Love Dies, Owned Shaw’s Oldest Barber Shop
Frank Love, proprietor of Gregg’s Barber Shop at 1909 Seventh Street NW, died on August 21. His death marks a milestone in the longest continuously operating barber shop in Shaw and perhaps in the District of Columbia.

City directories show that there has been a barbershop in the space since 1910. But the story of Gregg’s Barbershop starts elsewhere in Shaw. William R. Greggs appears as a barber in the District in 1913. After working at two different locations in Shaw, in 1936, Greggs moved to 1909 Seventh Street, where Gregg’s Barber Shop has been ever since. (There is no record of when the barber shop acquired the apostrophe in its name.) Greggs died in 1957, and the building was sold in 1974 after the death of his widow, but the barber shop has continued to operate. After Greggs, the shop was owned by two partners, Jackson and Hill. Frank Love took over the business in 1999.

Mr. Love had been cutting hair at Gregg’s Barber Shop since 1961. He would tell of times when entertainers appearing at the Howard Theater would come in for a trim. Notables included James Brown’s band (Brown himself stopped by but didn’t get his hair cut) and Pearl Bailey. The five-chair shop, which operated with an antique cash register, remained a vibrant part of the Shaw community. Gregg’s first gained celebrity status after being featured in a 2006 documentary series on DC neighborhoods presented by public television station WETA. Frank Love was interviewed for a segment entitled “The Barbershop,” recounting the changes he had seen in Shaw over the decades observing from his spot on Seventh Street. Mr. Love had also won a number of business citations recognizing his continuous service to the community.

RAMMY Awards, September 20 in Shaw
Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) along with its partners at Events DC will hold its 38th Annual RAMMY Awards on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020 in a live broadcast from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Shaw. In a rough year for the hospitality industry, the eagerly anticipated awards program will have an updated format in line with current safety guidance. “Our industry, and all of us, need things to look forward to and give us some semblance of joy and hope in our lives,” said Kathy E. Hollinger, President and CEO of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington.

The streamed awards show still hopes to include an intimate, red carpet reception for finalists and sponsors. The media will be able to ask questions of RAMMY winners online. There will also be a prize pack of gift cards awarded in a raffle, entered by dining at three RAMMY nominated restaurants the week before the celebration.

Shaw restaurants and team members are well represented in this year’s nominations for the RAMMY Awards. Unconventional Diner is a nominee for the title of Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year, while its chef David Deshaises is up for the Chef of the Year award. Service Bar is nominated for Cocktail Program of the Year, All Purpose Shaw for Casual Brunch of the Year and plant-based Shouk is vying for Favorite Fast Bites of the Year. Shaw has two nominations for the RAMMY Employee of the Year award, Yesenia Neri Diaz of Espita Mezcaleria and Kyare Turner of Right Proper Brewing Company.