The owner of a District of Columbia restaurant chain and a Ward 8-based social service non-profit broke ground recently on a venture that could produce more than 100 jobs and provide numerous opportunities for residents east of the Anacostia River.
On Oct. 6, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), D.C. Council member LaRuby May (D-Ward 8), Busboys and Poets owner Andy Shallal, and Perry J. Moon, executive director of the Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative (FSFSC), participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for the organization’s new headquarters that is expected to house the first Busboys and Poets restaurant in eastern Washington and a culinary arts training center.
“This project is another sign of my administration’s commitment to invest in supportive services and jobs in neighborhoods across all eight wards,” the mayor said. “It is also a happy day whenever we can accomplish those goals and deliver a long-awaited, long requested amenity, like this future Busboys and Poets restaurant.”
Bowser is also spearheading the St. Elizabeths East project that will be an athletic and training facility for the Washington Wizards and Mystics as well as a space for housing and office space. There are no name-brand sit-down restaurants in Ward 8 with the exception of the IHOP, located off of Alabama Avenue in Congress Heights. There are popular privately-owned restaurants such as Georgena’s on Martin Luther King Avenue., S.E. and Uniontown Bar & Grill in Anacostia in the ward.
Shallal owns Busboys and Poets restaurants on 14th Street. N.W., 5th Street., N.W., Brookland, Mulebone, and Takoma in the District. He also owns establishments in Arlington, Va. and Hyattsville, Md. It has long been the goal of Shallal to bring one of his restaurants to either Ward 7 or Ward 8.
“I am thrilled to be opening a new Busboys and Poets and hospitality training center in the heart of Ward 8,” he said. “My hope is that this new facility will be the catalyst for more economic development east of the river and will become a central meeting place to discuss the incredible opportunities that exist in this community.”
The $14.6 million building that culminates 20,000 square-feet received public funds from the mayor’s office, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, the Department of Energy and Environment (DOE), and Urban Ingenuity, a DOE firm that finances building renovations. The restaurant and FSFSC headquarters are expected to open in the summer of 2017.
“We are excited about and humbled by the partnerships that we have forged with the District, Urban Ingenuity, and United Bank to bring this important project to the residents of Anacostia and Ward 8,” Moon said. “Our mission and service offerings will be greatly enhanced by this new space.”
Charles Wilson, advisory neighborhood commissioner for district 8A05, has been a booster for Anacostia for years. Wilson said he couldn’t wait until Busboys and Poets opens up next year and praised FSFSC’s role in the project. “I am excited about the restaurant opening up but I am more excited about the partnership with FSFSC,” Wilson told the AFRO. “There are a lot of plans for developing Anacostia in the works and this project will definitely jump start economic development activity in this area.”