Made in Shaw: Right Proper Brewery

Leah Cheston is a co-owner of Shaw’s Right Proper Brewpub. Photo: Alexander M. Padro, Courtesy Shaw Main Streets.

Many businesses in the neighborhood could rightfully say their products are made in Shaw, but only Right Proper Brewing Shaw Brewpub and Kitchen (624 T Street NW) uses that claim as their slogan.

After working in the hospitality industry for the majority of her career, owner Leah Cheston decided to establish her own restaurant in 2013. Cheston and her husband Thor, whose background is also in hospitality but primarily in beer, worked together to make their vision a reality. 

“We always just liked the idea of opening our own place,” Cheston said. “My idea was a wine bar and his was a neighborhood brew pub. His vision just seemed to be a little further along than mine, so we decided for him to go for it first.”

They chose a space with a rich history. The former pool hall is mentioned by Duke Ellington in his autobiography as having helped to inspire his musical career. 

They brew their beer on site in a variety of styles, from Senate, a light American lager, to Haxan, a robust porter. The beer menu changes weekly to feature new releases. Cheston said they have brewed over 150 different beers since their opening. They also have a production facility and tasting room in Brookland (920 Girard Street NE). Some of Right Proper’s brews are available in cans and bottles at the brewpub and retailers, but all the beers that are on tap can be ordered to go in growlers.  

“Shaw has been more of a pilot brewery and a place to test recipes,” Cheston explained. “It’s kind of fun and we’re doing a lot of collaborations with community partners and other breweries.” A recent example is Bison Blood, a hoppy brown ale brewed to celebrate nearby Howard University’s 2022 homecoming.

Right Proper’s kitchen offers a variety of Southern inspired dishes, all made from scratch. Their fried chicken sandwich is the most popular item, but according to Cheston, the restaurant’s Southern hospitality is really what sets them apart. 

“I’m from a small southern town in North Carolina and my husband was really charmed by that way of life, particularly with the language, with sayings like ‘she’s right pretty’ or ‘I’ll be there right quick’ and so he said, ‘I want to open a ‘right proper’ brew pub.’”

Cheston sees the brewpub as a true community space for neighbors to gather for good food and drinks. 

“We’ve had all kinds of community events,” Cheston recalled. “We just did a block party as part of the Art All Night festival. We’ve done drag brunches and a lot of partnerships with local community organizations because we just see this as a community space.” Live entertainment is also part of their offerings. The restaurant welcomes children during all of their operating hours and features a “Half-Pint Menu” for kids, highchairs, changing tables and crayons. 

Right Proper Brewing is open Monday through Thursday from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday through Saturday from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Sarah Payne is a general assignment reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at