MS. REBECCA SHEIR
Welcome back to "Metro Connection." I'm Rebecca Sheir, and this week, we're doing something a little bit different and touring one of D.C.'s most historic neighborhoods. Shaw. We explored much of Shaw's past earlier in the show, from its dawning days as a settlement for freed slaves, to the neighborly customs it maintained during even the most trying of times. But in this part of the show, we'll take a big bite out of the Shaw of today, and tomorrow. Or...
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1
I'll just give one to everybody here. There you go. There you go.
To be more accurate...
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1
How much time do we have?
Five minutes away.
We'll take a big sip.
Okay, so this is Paco, The Red Experience. So it's a 50/50 blend of Garnacha and Tempranillo. So it's a nice option for red drinkers that prefer red to white with a lighter dish. Can you recommend something from your food menu?
Carnita Sope would be good.
We're standing by the bar at Thally, a new restaurant on 9th Street Northwest, just east of Naylor Court. Co-owner and D.C. native, Sherman Outhuok, has invited a wine rep to give his staff a mini class on some of the menu's reds and whites. The 70 seat new American eatery opened in Shaw at the end of August.
MR. SHERMAN OUTHUOK
We were part of the ribbon-cutting with Baby Whale, which is Tom Power's restaurant, next door to his own Corduroy restaurant. And then Mandalay restaurant, which is owned by Aung up the street. So the mayor and several council members came through in one day and did all three of us.
Three ribbon cuttings in one day, in one hour actually, may sound like a lot, but in Shaw, especially around 9th Street, lately, it really isn't all that surprising. In the past few years, we've seen the openings of Rogue 24, Seasonal Pantry, SUNdeVICH, Table. Not to mention Thally, Baby Whale and Mandalay.
MS. REBECCA COOPER
And there's another 10 or 12 restaurants that are planned for somewhere within Shaw, now, in the next year.
Rebecca Cooper is the Restaurant and Retail Reporter for the Washington Business Journal. I recently sat down with her and Sherman Outhuok over house made sodas at a table in Thally's front window. Why Shaw? Why is it so magnetic right now in the food industry?
You know, I think part of it is that as other areas that have finished their redevelopment, so they've become more expensive. The store fronts here become more affordable. Also, there's a ton of residential development being built here. So, that makes the neighborhood more attractive more attractive to the restaurants.
The downside, Cooper says, is that an influx of the new often brings a displacement of the old.
You know, the neighborhood was probably, before, you know, not serving the same clientele as it will when these newer, nicer apartments and whatnot, open up.
And as Sherman Outhuok points out, there's quite a lot of whatnot going on around 9th Street right about now. So, what do you see? I mean, we're looking out the window now, at 9th Street. We can see the O Street Market going up.
But the church next door and the rehabilitation center is under development right now, so I'm assuming that building will be torn down and the façade still used, but that'll be done. The gas station, I know, is for sale as well, right across the street. A lot of spaces that I think are vacant, are being taken over. Like Longview Gallery, the space next door is available. They moved over into that. There's a lot of development right down the street next to Corduroy, across from The Convention Center, that is definitely being sold or being developed right now as we speak.
And someone with a front row view of all that development...
MR. TOM POWER
Hi, you must be Rebecca.
Hi, I'm Tom.
Tom, nice to meet you.
Nice to meet you.
Is chef Tom Power, who owns Corduroy. I recently visited him next door at Baby Whale, the new 5,000 square foot restaurant named for a very particular type of corduroy.
Baby Whale is the smallest weave of corduroy. Each ridge on a corduroy is a whale, so baby whale is small. It's like a small corduroy.
Power bought the building for Corduroy in 2006, and after some serious renovations, he opened two years later. Now, when you started moving in or whatever in 2006, were there a lot of other eateries around?
No. We were kind of the pioneers here. There was Vegitate, was up the street, but that since closed. I guess Queen of Sheba was up there. Ozzie's Café was there. And people thought we were a little bit crazy. People kind of thought, wow, this is a shifty neighborhood. What are we doing over here?
What they were doing, it turns out, was looking ahead.
I always liked the area, and I knew that Marion had bought a lot of property over here in 2003, so I knew that the big hotel development was coming. And I knew that the old Convention Center site was going to be redone. And Chinatown is booming, so it seemed like it would just move this way.
And do you think that that's actually happening? Have your premonitions come true?
It is definitely moving that way? The hotel is almost finished. The O City Market is coming up. The City Vista is gonna really connect us with downtown, I think.
Back at Thally, as we finish up our house made sodas, Sherman Outhuok and Rebecca Cooper second Tom Power's motion. After all, Cooper says, the Marriot marquee is nearly complete and two other hotels near the Convention Center are on their way.
And I would imagine that will also bring more people up this way toward Thally and the other restaurants that will open, because they're gonna be looking for a place to eat.
It's good for you guys.
It is. It is good for us. We haven't opened for lunch yet. We don't feel that the neighborhood's ready for a Monday through Friday lunch spot, but maybe in a year or so when the hotels are finished and there's more people in the neighborhood during the day for conventions that the restaurant could sustain a lunch on Monday through Friday.
But even as Sherman Outhuok and his 9th Street colleagues look toward the future, Outhuok says that working here, in this historic neighborhood, he can't help but pay homage to the past. On Thally's walls are images and signs from historic spots in Shaw, including one in Naylor Court that dates back to 1883 and helped give the eatery its name.
The carriage house in the back was called Tally Ho Carriage House. My daughter's name is Thalia. I call her Tally for short, so we added the H to Tally and just called the restaurant Thally.
It's his way of holding on to a bit of the old Shaw on this rapidly changing street, in this rapidly changing neighborhood that some say, culinarily speaking, is quickly becoming the toast of the town.
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