By Stephanie Kaye
"Eating out" might seem like an activity that's easy to take for granted. But in Southeast D.C., a new venture promises food and a seat in a carry-out only neighborhood.
Two non-profits have formed a partnership to open Anacostia's only full-service restaurant.
ARCH Development Corporation and The Gatepost, a faith-based organization, broke ground this weekend on an American-style bistro that will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner on Good Hope Road.
"Things are really happening in Anacostia," says Duane Gautier. He is CEO of ARCH Development, and says Anacostia has had to overcome a bad economic reputation.
"Anacostia was looked at as a place that, if you put money into it, your return on investment was not going to be as great as in other parts of the city. We've got to get beyond this perception. Let's just ignore the perception and let's just go out and do it," says Gautier.
A number of new small business are "just doing it." They include the area's new - and only - espresso bar, Big Chair Coffee on MLK Avenue, where the grill and espresso maker hiss in near unison.
Big Chair is serving a drink called the "Marion Barry," a foamy soy mocha latte with lots of spice. Named after this Ward's infamous lawmaker, Barry was recently censured by the D.C. Council for violating conflict of interest laws.
"Even when we get bad publicity, which we have had a lot of in the last couple of weeks because of these political ramifications, people are saying there has got to be something in Anacostia," he says.
Gautier has noticed other businesses and offices taking root. There's a new cab company, some art galleries and the glass-and-marble home of D.C.'s Department of Housing and Community Development.
But an informal survey on the blog "Anacostia Now" rates a "sit-down restaurant" high on visitors' wish lists, as important as having a grocery store or pharmacy.