RAMMYs celebrates D.C.’s restaurateurs hard work, passion, despite pandemic

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The 2021 RAMMY’s, hosted by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW), was held at the Washington Convention Center on Sept. 19. (Photo by Micha Green)

By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. and Digital Editor
mgreen@afro.com

After more than a year and a half of D.C.’s restaurant industry feeling pulverized, having to pivot, and producing delicious dishes despite the difficulties presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) had a lot to celebrate at this year’s RAMMY’s.  With the theme, “A Night to Shine Together,” the 2021 RAMMY’s truly highlighted the major accomplishments and resiliency of the D.M.V.’s food industry and gave guests an opportunity to reflect on how far the world has come in a matter of months, while also looking forward to a fun, food-filled future.

Held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the 2021 RAMMY’s shed light on so many amazing aspects of the District’s cuisine such as the international fares, the fresh seafood, the savory Soul food, and the delectable desserts. This reporter feasted on scallops, macaroni and cheese, mashed squash, corn grits, salmon cakes, tuna burgers, caprese salads and sandwiches, spinach and artichoke spread, mango, seafood salad and so much more.  

As guests enjoyed the cornucopia of food options, they learned more about the District’s restaurant offerings through the fare and the key to the evening’s affair- the awards. In addition to the usual awards, such as Managers and Employees of the Year, this year’s RAMMY’s included award-categories that were true testaments of the time such as “Finer Dining in a Box,” (winner Cranes); “Most Innovative To-Go Packaging Game,” (winner Oyster Oyster), “Outstanding Covid-Safe Redesign (Indoors and Outdoors),” (winner Clarity); “Prime Pandemic Patio Scene,” (winner Le Diplomate) and “Coolest Cocktails and Beverages to Go,” (winner Cactus Cantina).  The “Good Neighbor Award,” was also awarded to individuals and organizations who gave back to their community during this trying time.

When accepting the award for “Most Innovative To-Go Packaging Game,” a representative from Oyster Oyster took a moment to remark on the sad times the restaurant industry has overcome.

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“This [award] is appropriately shaped like a teardrop, which we shed a lot of this year,” the Oyster Oyster representative said.

Guests dance at the 2021 RAMMY’s on Sept. 19. (Photo by Micha Green)

Another event highlight was the variety of featured beverages and cocktails from nominated restaurants as well as Black-owned beverage companies.  This reporter tried Black-owned beverages from Sankofa Bottling Company and Michael Lavelle.

“We are based out of College Park, Maryland.  We are distilled in Frederick, Maryland,” explained Steven Moore of Sankofa Bottling Company.  “So our gin is a citrus berry infused gin. Most gins you get that juniper taste on the backend, that pine cone taste.  With our gin, you won’t get that. It’s 100-proof gin, it’s actually one of the only 100-proof gins on the market.  So it’s actually a smooth experience, I guess you could say, and it’s good to mix with just about anything.  So a lot of people enjoy it.

“What we say, the people who don’t like gin, the non-gin drinkers, it’s their gin, and they like it,” Moore emphasized.

Michael Lavelle was “the exclusive rosé brand for the RAMMY’s,” said brand ambassador Wes Michel, while showing off the “Lavelle 75,” the company’s take on French 75.  

“It’s light, it’s fresh, it’s fruity, a touch of bubbly, but not too overwhelming,” Michel explained.  

Michel noted the importance of being part of the 2021 RAMMY’s. 

“To be Black owned, to be here and present, it’s an honor, it’s humbling.  It’s nice to be a Black man in the wine space today.”

“It’s incredible to see such a community come together,” added Michael Lavelle co-owner Terrence Lowe.  “You can actually see the reactions of people experiencing your wine, which is incredible.  Nothing beats being able to have a conversation over a glass of wine versus virtually.  You miss that interaction, so it’s incredible to be here.”

For a full list of awardees visit: https://www.ramw.org/.

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