Busboys Will Open In Anacostia, But When?

by Shilpi Paul

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Last night, River East Emerging Leaders (r.e.e.l.) brought a panel of DC restaurateurs to Historic Anacostia to talk about how to break into the business. Speaking to a crowd full of residents eager to transform their neighborhood, the owners of Mama’s Kitchen and The Orange Cow Food Truck, successful franchisers of McDonald’s and Five Guys and Andy Shallal, the owner of restaurant, cafe and community gathering place Busboys and Poets spoke about the realities of opening up in an emerging neighborhood, creating a stable business model and how businesses can transform an area.

The big question of the evening, however, was directed at Shallal.

“So, are you going to do it? Are you opening a Busboys in Anacostia?” asked the moderator.

“I am going to open a Busboys and Poets east of the river,” said Shallal, to an eruption of cheers. “When is the question.”

Shallal didn’t offer the group too many exact details, just mentioning that he had been “talking to some operators.” Last month, Housing Complex reported that Shallal was looking at the space currently occupied by Uniontown Bar and Grill. Shallal didn’t address that, but did say that he was waiting for the right space, one that was in the “sweet spot,” presumably the area around the intersection of Martin Luther King Avenue and Good Hope Road SE (map), near Honfleur Gallery, Big Chair Coffee and The Hive.

Shallal elaborated on his vision for Busboys a bit more, seeming anxious to get in quickly to assume the position of an early adopter in the slowly rising neighborhood. He is currently on the Board of the Anacostia Community Museum, he told the group, and is interested in representing the history of Anacostia appropriately in the new Busboys, just as the original is inspired by the history of U Street and the Hyattsville location seeks to serve local artists with their in-house art store. “I always do my research on a community,” Shallal assured the group.

In the four other locations, Busboys seemed able to accelerate excitement around a neighborhood. Can it do the same for Anacostia?

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/busboys_hopes_to_set_up_in_anacostia/5572

5 Comments

  1. Ward 8's Boy Toy said at 2:22 pm on Wednesday May 23, 2012:

    A great article. And yes, I think Andy can do great in Anacostia. He has a great concept that will take root quickly in this up and coming environ. The community is looking for brave souls like him and others (Uniontown, Big Chair) to dive in and invest in the community. Rest assured they will be rewarded handsomely for their early support and trust in the community. That, of course, will lead to a healthy bottom line….

  1. Wendy Leibowitz said at 3:20 pm on Wednesday May 23, 2012:

    Just the rumor that Busboys & Poets might open east of the river has made my day! Andy Shallal does so much for the communities he serves, and he serves in so many ways: though dialogues, performances, and challenges to the status quo. He’s hoping Busboys & Poets opens there without delay.

  1. Eliza Thompson said at 6:44 pm on Wednesday May 23, 2012:

    He can so do this! What does the old saying go? “If you build it, they will come” But WE are already here and have just been waiting for businesses just like this to take notice!

  1. Anthony Lorenzo said at 7:45 pm on Wednesday May 23, 2012:

    I was at the r.e.e.l. discussion last night and was thoroughly excited when I heard Andy state Busboys and Poets will be coming to Anacostia, just a matter of when.

    As a Ward 8 resident, I can definitely say this will do nothing but heavily increase the pride many have for Anacostia. Proud to hear this idea is being seriously considered.

  1. xmal said at 10:56 pm on Wednesday May 23, 2012:

    Looking again at that “sweet spot”—-the intersection of MLK and Good Hope Road SE—-it just hit me that there are no streets to the north or west. These two main streets run on the periphery rather than through the center of the neighborhood, which will affect how many residents local businesses can draw on.

    When thinking of Anacostia, I had always focused on the many barriers around it (the freeways, the river, the ridge to the south, the freakin’ Navy Yard!), but maybe part of the problem is that the neighborhood is just not that big. According to the census, there are around 4600 people living within half a mile of the sweet spot (census tracts 75.03 and half of 76.01). That’s similar to Brookland and lBloomingdale.

    Maybe that population (plus people coming from nearby) can support a Busboys—-but I wouldn’t expect it to turn into U Street anytime soon.

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