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Shaw Holiday Traditions Continue with Small Business Saturday and Pop-Up Bars

Accompanying images can be viewed on page 1 of the December 2017 issue pdf

By Alexander M. Padro*

The beginning of this year’s holiday season saw yet another celebration of northwest DC’s Shaw neighborhood retail renaissance as more than a dozen ribbons were cut for new businesses and public art installations, along with the return of a popular holiday pop-up bar and the debut of a new one.

Shaw Main Streets’ annual celebration of Small Business Saturday, the annual event founded by American Express to encourage shoppers to spend their holiday dollars locally with local, mom-and-pop establishments, once again featured a multiple ribbon cutting event headlined by the city’s political leaders. This was the year’s second such event, following 25 ribbons cut for new businesses and public art projects on July 27, 2017.

On Saturday, November 25th, in front of the new Seylou Bakey and Mill at 926 N Street, DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, At-large Councilmembers Elissa Silverman and Robert White, and Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau (and infant daughter Zoe, at her first-ever ribbon cutting) joined ANC Commissioners, community residents, photographers and reporters for the kickoff of Shaw Business Saturday, the neighborhood’s rebranding of the eight-year-old national Shop Small celebration.

While waiting for the ceremony to start, Shaw Main Streets Board Chair Gretchen Wharton, a lifelong Shaw resident, shared how, when growing up on the 500 block of S Street near the Wonder Bread Factory, she never had to use an alarm clock because she would be awakened every morning by the smell of freshly baked bread. Other guests noted how excited they were to finally be able to buy fresh baked bread in the neighborhood, as a bread bakery had long been a sought-after new business.

After opening remarks by the council members, the owners of Seylou — Jonathan Bethony and Jessica Azeez — joined the officials in cutting the wide red ribbon with “Grand Opening” printed in white to signify that the bakery was open for business and that the flurry of ribbon cuttings had begun.

After tearing a ceremonial loaf of bread and taking a tour of the city’s first full grain bakery, which features a stone mill for grinding grain into flour and a large brick oven custom-built by master craftsmen brought in from Spain, the ribbon cutting delegation moved on to Calico, a new restaurant at 50 Blagden Alley by the owners of Tiger Fork and Tail Up Goat, for the second ribbon cutting.

1230 Restaurant, chef/owner Malik Fall’s new champagne-centric establishment at 1230 9th Street, was next, followed by Central Michel Richard’s chef David Deshaies’ Unconventional Diner at 1207 9th Street — the latest new business to open in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center’s retail frontage. The ribbon cutting contingent then boarded a black limo van, dubbed the Ribbon Cutting Express, bound for Supra at 1205 11th Street, one of the nation’s only restaurants serving the cuisine of the Republic of Georgia.

The group was then dropped off at the legendary Lee’s Flower and Card Shop at 1026 U Street where a new Murals DC wall painting by artist Kaliq Crosby celebrating the Lee family’s 70-plus-year retail legacy had the first of two ribbons cut for it. (Mayor Muriel E. Bowser stopped at Lee’s to dedicate the mural as part of her Small Business Saturday rounds that afternoon.)

The seventh ribbon was cut for the new 1942 club on the second floor of Etete Restaurant at 1942 9th Street. On the same block, the snipped ribbon for FB Liquors at No. 1905 was followed by a champagne toast inside the store.

“Jazz Legends of Washington, DC,” another new Murals DC art installation on the alley side of Right Proper Brewing Company at 624 T Street had its ribbon cut by artist Rose Jaffe and brewpub owners Leah and Thor Cheston and younger family members, including their new baby daughter. On the east side of Ellington Plaza, ribbons were cut for the new rooftop El Techo at Rito Loco at 606 Florida Avenue and basement speakeasy 600 T next door at 600 T Street.

[Editor’s note: The Murals DC art installation program mentioned above was the subject of an InTowner lead story a year ago headlined “More Murals Replacing Graffiti-Defaced Neighborhood Walls.”]

The announcement that the new Angel’s Share Wine and Liquors, a spacious and well-lit shop at 1748 7th Street with appropriately wine-colored concrete flooring in the building best known for its Marvin Gaye mural by Aniekan Udofia would be sponsoring an annual scholarship for a Shaw student was met with grateful applause as another ribbon was cut there.

The newly renovated and re-opened Queen of Sheba Restaurant, under new ownership,  at 1503 9th Street and MVP Sports Bar at 1015 7th Street were the 13th and 14th (final), respectively, ribbon cuttings of the day.

Dozens of Shaw businesses celebrated Shaw’s Small Business Saturday, giving away blue-printed canvas Shop Small bags, Shop Small pins, and offering special deals. For the first time, Shaw Main Streets distributed Shaw Bucks — $5 coupons resembling currency but with neighborhood namesake Colonel Robert Gould Shaw’s image instead of Abraham Lincoln. Nearly 30 businesses were accepting Shaw Bucks at face value when making purchases that day. Free black T-shirts emblazoned with pink lips and the hashtag #loveshaw, as well as buttons, magnets, and recyclable shopping bags with the same branding, were distributed free of charge by Shaw Main Streets to all comers.

The previous day, Miracle on Seventh Street, the Drink Company’s popular holiday pop-up bar, opened for the third year at 1839 7th Street. This year’s incarnation of the elaborately decorated tribute to holiday imbibing included Candy Land, inspired by the board game of the same name and featuring a giant gingerbread man and candy canes, a “Mrs. Claus”-hatted Beyoncé mural suitable for Instagram selfies, and the “Chinese and a Movie” room, celebrating the popular Jewish tradition of dining out at a Chinese restaurant and taking in a movie on Christmas Day, complete with a large menorah candelabra, movie

posters, and lots of takeout menus and containers. Three bars offer Christmas and Hanukkah-themed drinks bearing names like Whobilation, Brew Dolph the Rein Beer, and Maccabeats by Dreidel, all served in specialty glassware. Miracle is open daily until New Year’s Eve, but is closed Christmas Day.

And the Christmas Bar has been joined by a Hanukkah Bar this year: Ivy and Coney, the Midwest sports/dive bar at 1537 7th Street, has been transformed into Chai-vy and Cohen-y. The bar will be serving Manischewitz kosher wines on tap, slivovitz plum brandy, He’Brew beers like Chanukah Golden Ale and Messiah Nut Brown, matzoh ball soup and latke potato pancakes with apple sauce or sour cream. Eight guests at a time will be able to drink from the 11-foot-long golden ShotNorah. Nightly events between December 12th and 20th, the eight days of the actual Hanukkah holiday, will include the requisite candle-lighting ceremonies and gift giveaways featuring socks and gold foil-wrapped chocolate coins. A highlight will be the dreidel top spinning competition on December 19th. The Hanukkah pop-up will be open every day through New Year’s Eve, except December 25th.

Many Shaw restaurants and bars will feature New Year’s Eve events. For a list, visit

Happy Shawlidays!

*The writer, a longtime resident of the Shaw neighborhood, has been a Shaw ANC Commissioner since 2001 and executive director of Shaw Main Streets since 2004.

Copyright © 2017 InTowner Publishing Corp. & Shaw Main Streets, Inc. All rights reserved.