Shaw Streets

Line dancing led by Fit DC at the Shaw First Friday Art Walk. Photo: Alexander Padro, Courtesy of Shaw Main Street

RAMMY Awards Returns to Shaw

The Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington held their annual awards show, the RAMMYS, at the Washington Convention Center on Sunday, July 9. It was the 41st year for the event, but the first under the association’s new Executive Director Shawn Townsend, formerly the District’s Director for Nightlife and Culture. This year’s celebration was marked by the absence of complaints about recovery from the struggles of the pandemic era. Now, everyone looked forward to new heights for the District’s already strong hospitality industry. All the presenters, made up of local newscasters joined by Townsend’s wife, MSNBC network star Simone Sanders-Townsend, spoke on how fortunate we are to be able to take advantage of a world-class restaurant city.

There were 14 Shaw restaurants and service workers nominated for RAMMY awards this year and two winners. Blagden Alley’s Causa/Amazonia won the coveted award for New Restaurant of the Year, with owners Chad Spangler and Glendon Hartley along with the rest of their team accepting the RAMMY. Spangler and Hartley had to take the stage again when Service Bar, their bar on U Street won the award for Cocktail Program of the Year.

The Causa/Amazonia restaurant team accept the RAMMY Award for
New Restaurant of the Year. Photo: Pleasant Mann.

Shaw Restaurants Win Grants

Not only are Shaw restaurants widely regarded for their work, they are starting to garner grants to encourage their development. FishScale, the noted seafood sandwich shop on Florida Avenue, just won a $40,000 grant from American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The grant is from the Trust’s Backing Historic Small Restaurants Program, which helps small restaurant owners navigate supply chain issues, staffing shortages, inflation and other crises so that their legacies can continue. FishScale was one of 25 restaurants in the country to receive this grant. Down the street, Stop Smak’n got a $10,000 grant from the Feed the Soul Foundation, a group dedicated to providing resources to culinary industry entrepreneurs from marginalized communities.

Five Shaw restaurants have received grants from the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce from their NGLCC Community Impact Grant Program. The grant program, supported by the Grub Hub Community Fund, intends to provide vital assistance for LGBT+ owned and allied restaurants, cafes, bars serving food and other eating establishments. The Shaw restaurants receiving NGLCC grants include BKK Thai Cookshop, Electric Cool-Aid, the Little Gay Pub, Shaw’s Tavern and Uproar.

Still Drinking in Shaw

While Shaw has a reputation for high class eating, it also has one for high class drinking. This reputation was burnished recently when Wine Enthusiast magazine placed the Pop Fizz Bar (2108 Vermont Avenue NW), the latest establishment from Brent Kroll, proprietor of Maxwell Park, on its list of the top 50 New American Wine Bars in the country. The New American Wine Bar combines elevated drinking with high class edibles, which Pop Fizz does by specializing in sparkling alcohol beverages with Detroit-style pizza, fried food items “because fried food and sparkling is always the right pairing,” along with caviar and seasonal dishes.

Lisa Marie Thalhammer completes a new mural in Blagden Alley. Photo: Alexander Padro, Courtesy of Shaw Main Streets.

Death and Company, the famed New York innovators of cocktail craft, have opened up their DC outpost in the former Columbia Room space in Blagden Alley. While the interior has been extensively redone, the much-admired ceramic mural was retained. Rob Rubba has also just opened his Oyster Garage, a more laid-back spot next to his award-winning fine dining establishment Oyster Oyster. The 15-seat space will continue the plant-based theme of the restaurant next door, offering pizza, oysters and sustainably produced wine and beers.

Finally, there are two new bars coming to Shaw. Shakers has moved into 2014 Ninth Street NW, while Rush is taking over the space at 1923 Ninth Street NW. Both bars are dedicated to serving the LGBT+ community.

Art Continues in Shaw

Art activations continue through the summer in Shaw. The Shaw First Friday Art Walks, sponsored by the Howard Theater, bring art exhibitions, music, dancing and food to the 600 block of T Street on the first Friday evening of every month. Muralist Lisa Marie Thalhammer, creator of the internationally known “Love” mural, has just completed a new work in Blagden Alley, adding to the DC Alley Museum collection. And Events DC will be showing the Disney movie “Turning Red” on the Carnegie Library lawn on Thursday, August 17, with favorite movie snacks and light fare, fun activities and a live DJ. The event is free, but you should register for tickets at the Events DC website.

Sranda Watkins Elected to ANC 2G

ANC 2G met Thursday evening, August 3 to hold a special election to fill the currently vacant seat of ANC 2G03. The Board of Elections had recognized three eligible candidates for the seat, and the ANC sent a post card to all the registered voters in the ANC 2G03 single member district informing them of the special election.

Shaw’s Tavern owners Frank Wilson and Rob Heim with their grant check from the National LBGT Chamber of Commerce. Photo courtesy of Shaw’s Tavern.

The opening of the meeting at the Watha T. Daniel Branch Library started with the passage by the commission of a resolution, suggesting that ANC special elections be entirely under the purview of the Board of Elections. The current rules have the Board of Elections declaring ANC vacancies and candidates but has the Office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (OANC) conduct the actual special election during a four-hour plus commission meeting.

At 3:30 p.m., the election opened and voting started. A constant stream of voters came through the library until voting was closed at 7:30 p.m. After the votes were counted, Sranda Watkins was declared the winner by the OANC. ANC 2G immediately passed a resolution to the Board of Elections to declare the vacancy filled and that Sranda Watkins is now the new ANC 2G03 commissioner. Ms. Watkins was sworn into office the next morning by Ward 2 Councilmember Brooke Pinto.