Pleasant Plains Workshop moves into Soul Vegetarian’s Exodus

The November closure of Soul Vegetarian's Exodus, the vegan soul-food carryout near Howard University, is certainly a bummer for those celebrating Meat-Free Week this week. But neighbors can relax: It's not as if a Subway is moving into the space at 2606 Georgia Ave. NW.

Artist Kristina Bilonick, pictured, opened Pleasant Plains Workshop in late 2010. In January, she signed on to move into the space vacated by the vegetarian soul food restaurant Soul Vegetarian's Exodus. (Lavanya Ramanathan/The Washington Post)

Pleasant Plains Workshop, a very cool neighborhood art space that has hosted holiday markets, poetry readings and exhibitions, and carries neighborhood-made T-shirts, prints, books and zines, has signed on to expand into the former restaurant. According to owner Kristina Bilonick, Pleasant Plains will use the sizable kitchen and ground floor of the Space Formerly Known as Soul Veg to create a better work space for its stable of artists, which includes Bilonick and Anthony Dihle.

The current Pleasant Plains, as anyone who has been there knows, is a sliver of a gallery, with just 450 square feet divided between the artists' work spaces and a shop where you can pick up Bilonick's ties and T-shirts and handpicked vintage. Moving into Soul Veg will give Pleasant Plains an additional 1,200 square feet, a big change for Bilonick, who only a few years ago was using a jerry-rigged closet as her darkroom.

The first floor, Bilonick says, will function as a studio for printmakers (Chris Haughery, Champneys Taylor, Rujunko Pugh and Martine Workman are among them) and serve as a classroom. The kitchen will be transformed into darkrooms, with an exposure unit to make screens, drying racks and other equipment. For visitors, it means more goods in the shop. For the upstairs, Bilonick is hunting for a creative business to fill the space, but the concept hasn't been announced.

Until the buildout of the new space is complete, the gallery and shop will remain open. The new space, Bilonick says, could open in early March, with a grand opening in April. And for those still looking for vegan food? Everlasting Life Cafe is just a few blocks away.

Lavanya Ramanathan is a features reporter for Style.



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