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Shaw Neighborhood Ribbon Cuttings Showcase the Area’s Success Story

Accompanying images can be viewed starting on page 1 of the August 2018 issue pdf

By Alexander M. Padro*

Shaw has seen over 350 new businesses open in the past 15 years, since Shaw Main Streets began its commercial revitalization efforts. The neighborhood ceremonially welcomed 14 of the latest arrivals on July 30, 2018, in one of the local Main Street organization’s celebrations of the area’s retail vibrancy.

Shaw Main Streets, the 2016 Great American Main Street Award-winning commercial revitalization and historic preservation nonprofit, has been guiding the neighborhood’s revitalization since 2003. It sponsors two “Grand Opening” ribbon-cutting events each year to shine a spotlight on the businesses that have opened in the previous half year. The 14 featured businesses all opened in Shaw since the last event, held on November 25, 2017.

The first eight ribbons were cut in Ward 1, represented on the City Council by Councilmember Brianne K Nadeau. Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) Director Kristi C. Whitfield, wearing a #loveshaw T-shirt with pink lips, stood in for Mayor Muriel E. Bowser. Together, Nadeau and Whitfield wielded the three-foot-long golden scissors that cut the ceremonial ribbons. ANC commissioners from 1B and 6E also participated in the ceremonies, along with representatives of the DC Chamber of Commerce.

A press conference at Gaslight Tavern (2012-14 9th St.) started the festivities. Gaslight is the latest Hilton Brothers establishment in Shaw (joining The Brixton, El Rey, American Ice Company and Satellite Room — all nearby). The classic American tavern, with clubby dining areas, a skylit back room and a sunny rear patio, is helmed by chef Brendan L’Etoile and mixologist Sam Vasfi.

Following the first snip at Gaslight, the contingent walked one block south to Po Boy Jim Bar & Grill (1934 9th St.), the second location of an H Street favorite, which serves Cajun and Creole cooking and signature Po Boy sandwiches.  The group next climbed the stairs to Cortez DC Restaurant & Rooftop Bar (1905 9th St.), where Ryan Seelbach, who also co-owns nearby Takoda Restaurant & Beer Garden, welcomed the celebrants to his Baja California themed tacos and tequila emporium.

Next came Cosmo Beauty Bar (1911 9th Street, NW), a new nail salon — a second venture for the business’ owners. Nadeau and Whitfield climbed into pedicure chairs for the photo-op with the big scissors.

A few doors away was Local First Market (1924 8th St., #100; entry on 9th St.), a pop-up retail space showcasing locally owned makers and retailers, such as Bailiwick Clothing, Big Bad Woof, and Urban Jungle.

A quick stroll around the corner brought the group to Violet Boutique (1924 8th St., #115; entry on Florida Ave.), the first permanent location for this award-wining womenswear shop.

The last stop in Ward 1 was The Shop at Shaw (1924 8th St., #145), a beauty and barber shop staffed by a high-energy team led by Jamie Lynn (a sister salon is in Bethesda).

A short trip in a limo van, christened “The Ribbon Cutting Express,” brought the ribbon cutters into Ward 6 and Tobacco & Vape King (1537 7th St.), the first DC location for a tobacco and smoking accessory retailer with four other locations in Maryland and Virginia.

The van then whisked everyone to Glass House Gallery DC (1527 9th St.), which offers high-end art glass smoking accessories by 90 glass artists.

Next stop was Ward 2 dog walking and pet care provider DC Petropolis (1408 9th St.). The tiny storefront shop is owned by veteran pet professional Gabriela Maglione.

On the next block, one of the most anticipated new DC restaurants of the year awaited. San Lorenzo Ristorante + Bar (1316 9th St.) is the brainchild of chef-owner Massimo Fabbri, for the past 17 years chef at the renowned Ristorante Tosca downtown on F Street, NW. This tribute to the patron of chefs, Saint Lawrence, focuses on the flavors of Italy’s Tuscany region. It only opened in late June, but is already the toughest reservation in a neighborhood filled with Michelin-starred and James Beard and RAMMY award-winning chefs and restaurants.

The new Shaw offices of U Street Parking (1208 9th St.), celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, came next. In addition to providing valet services for hotels and restaurants citywide, U Street manages parking operations at some of the world’s largest airports, including Reagan National and Dulles and Los Angeles International.

The penultimate stop was Morris American Bar (1020 7th St.), one of the city’s hottest new cocktail bars. With pale blue décor designed by Shaw’s own Swatchroom, the Morris, like its sister bar, the Sheppard in Dupont Circle, is named for the US Senator whose 18th Amendment to the US Constitution established prohibition. The bar’s cocktails are by master barman David Strauss.

Across from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the final ribbon was cut was at The Capital Burger (1005 7th St.), the prototype burger restaurant from the Capital Grille chain.

The next Shaw multiple ribbon cutting will be held on Saturday, November 24, 2018 as part of the Shaw neighborhood’s annual observance of Small Business Saturday, which is always held on the day after Black Friday. For more information on Shaw businesses and Shaw Main Streets events, visit www.shawmainstreets.org.

*The writer, a long-time resident and community leader in the Shaw neighborhood, is the Executive Director of Shaw Main Streets. Additionally, he is presently serving his ninth term as an ANC commissioner representing central Shaw.

Copyright © 2018 InTowner Publishing Corp. & Shaw Main Streets, Inc. All rights reserved.