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Andy Shallal is running for D.C. mayor

Andy Shallal owns three immensely popular restaurants in Washington. (Matt McClain/For The Washington Post)

In a move somewhat less surprising than the other big D.C. political news of the day, restaurateur Andy Shallal said Friday he intends to enter the D.C. mayoral race.

The Iraqi-born owner of the Busboys & Poets mini-empire made his intentions clear during an appearance on WAMU-FM’s Politics Hour, bringing to a close nearly three months of rumination. He acknowledged to hosts Kojo Nnamdi and Tom Sherwood that he encountered plenty of skepticism from supporters curious as to why he’d want to enter the world of electoral politics.

“The first thing they said was, ‘Why do you want to be in this messy, filthy business,'” he said. “That’s not reassuring.”

But Shallal said he felt he wants to take a stab at bridging the city’s cultural and economic divides, and he’s planned a campaign kickoff for Tuesday at Ben’s Chili Bowl.

Shallal said his decision came after weeks of trying to get a bead on incumbent mayor Vincent C. Gray’s reelection plans, but, until recently, he wasn’t able to get through: “I’ve called, I’ve tweeted, I’ve texted,” he said. Recently, he said, he spoke with Gray and mayoral chief of staff Christopher Murphy.

His message: “I told him once I’m in, I’m going to stay in.”