More than a hundred people gathered on the morning of Oct. 14 to dedicate a bronze plaque to Cecelia Penny Scott, legendary host of Cecelia’s restaurant on Wiltberger Street. The plaque memorialized Scott’s contributions to the life of the neighborhood.
After opening her eponymous restaurant, catering to the black entertainment community, at 12th and U streets NW in 1953, Scott bought a restaurant on Wiltberger Street across from the Howard Theater in 1958. The new Cecelia’s restaurant, now with a rooming house on the upper floors, became legendary as a watering hole and rest stop for the best of the nation’s black entertainers. Patrons included James Brown, Cab Calloway, Sam Cooke, Red Foxx, Billie Holiday, Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, Dinah Washington and Jackie Wilson.
The DC Council gave a ceremonial designation to the street, naming it Cecelia’s Way to commemorate her contributions to the District’s culture. The restaurant’s facade was preserved when the building was incorporated into new apartment development, The Shaw. Friends and family thought that it would be appropriate to name the building in her honor but settled for a plaque describing Scott’s role in strengthening the community. The plaque was paid for by Monument Realty, the builders of the apartment building, with the development and production of the plaque managed by Shaw Main Streets.
The dedication saw greetings from Naomi Mitchell, representing Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, and Tania Jackson from the office of Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau. Jackson recounted the charities that Scott set up, including Hospitality House, which supported the homeless, and School Shoes, Scott’s annual drive to get shoes for neighborhood kids starting the school year.
Daughter Tina Scott Boyd regaled the audience with her experiences living at Cecelia’s and the excitement of residing across from the Howard Theater in an era when every Motown act stopped there to perform in DC.
Finally, the image of the plaque was unveiled and its planned location on The Shaw apartment building was pointed out to the crowd. Then the attendees went to lunch at Right Proper Brewing Company next door.
Shaw Businesses Come Out on Top in the Best of DC List
The Washington City Paper’s annual reader’s poll and editorial picks for the Best of DC came out at the end of October, with Shaw businesses gaining top positions on the list, as well as a number of runner-up designations.
The editors named Oyster Oyster, Chef Rob Rubba’s commitment to high-end plant-based eating, as the city’s Best New Restaurant. In the reader’s poll, Beau Thai won again for Best Thai Restaurant, while Shouk was declared the Best Vegan/Vegetarian Restaurant and Cava got the nod for Best Fast Casual Dining.
In terms of drinking, readers chose Right Proper Brewing Company as Best Brew Pub, Compass Coffee as Best Coffee Shop, and Ivy and Coney won the titles of Best Dive Bar, Best Rooftop Bar and Best Sports Bar. The famous Fauci Pouchy cocktail from Capo Deli won the pandemic poll categories of Best Local Lockdown Product and Best Prepared Cocktail To-Go.
The Shop at Shaw was the editors’ pick for Best Salon for Rock Star – or Dream Pop-up Hair. “Craving a cut – or dye job – that screams ‘I don’t work on the Hill?’ Then look no further than the Shop at Shaw.” The 9:30 Club retained its position as Best Music Venue in the Reader’s Poll, and readers also cited Lee’s Flower and Card Shop as DC’s Best Flower Shop. Warby Parker is still the Best Place to Buy Eyeglasses, UBREAKIFIX the Best Place to Get Your Cracked Phone Screen Fixed and District Pilates is Best Pilates Studio.
DC Water Drain Art
While Shaw has seen some big murals completed lately, DC Water sponsored other additions to the neighborhood’s aesthetics. Two of the winners of the second Cool Art & Cleaner Rivers storm-drain mural contest painted their murals atop drains located near the Northeast Boundary Tunnel’s R Street NW construction site. Artist Marley Kinkead painted the mural near the northwest corner of Sixth Street and Rhode Island Avenue NW in front of the AIM auto repair shop. A mural by Carly Rounds is at the northeast corner of Sixth and R streets NW.
Disco Mary Pop-up Opens in Blagden Alley.
The Columbia Room in Blagden Alley has announced a new pop-up establishment, Disco Mary. Located on the deck of the building, Disco Mary greets visitors with a mirrored altar to the Virgin and marks a departure from the high-test cocktail list that the Columbia Room is known for. The pop-up specializes in a series of apothecary (that is, healthy) cocktails using herbal ingredients, with alcohol added only at the patron’s request. The cocktails are accompanied by a menu of plant-based, Latin-oriented dishes crafted by chef Elena Venegas. The pop-up at 124 Blagden Alley NW hopes to develop sustainable methods of providing food and drink. Visit www.DiscoMary.com for details.