Although parking spaces are easier to find in Shaw than in nearby Chinatown, “gentrification” is a word bandied about by longtime residents as luxury apartments go up here. One thing’s for sure: The area is in the midst of a commercial revival, yielding an eclectic mix of decades-old institutions sharing sidewalks with fledgling bars and eateries.
The Shaw location of the 30 D.C. nonprofit group exudes a perky vibrancy. Today, The reception desk is a kiwi green, and the lobby of the 20,000-square-foot space (recently expanded in 2011) is soaked in sunlight. Bread for the City provides services such as clothing donations and dental care for more than 58,000 D.C. residents annually. About 1,000 volunteers at the organization's two locations are crucial to its success.
Even before entering the Howard Theatre, visitors encounter the venue's history. Lobby displays showcase a Gibson signed by B.B. King and a pair of cowboy boots of the late Chuck Brown. It's a small taste of the multitude of African American performers who graced the stage here. After closing in the 1980s, the D.C. landmark was renovated and rejuvenated in 2012. Says marketing director Alexa Williams, "As Shaw is transforming, we're transforming."
Those seeking this no-frills watering hole for the first time might stroll right by it. Aside from a sidewalk sandwich board advertising game times, the only other indicators that give away the Chicago-and-Detroit -themed bar are a trio of major league team flags - the Nationals, Cubs and Tigers - hanging from second-story windows. Larger-than-life depictions of the late Tigers manager Sparky Anderson and Cubs announcer Harry Caray adorn the walls. Hot dogs are kept at the ready.
After reopening in April 2012, the rustic gastropub has plans - lots of 'em: A chalkboard boasts a jam-packed schedule of events and daily specials. Hits from the kitchen include a blackened catfish sandwich and a barbecued lamb shank. "It's a place you can come and have a great craft beer or a great burger," says executive chef Peter Prime. "If you want to stay and do a serious dinner, we take our entrees seriously."
In a city with a cupcake stomachache, this shop provides an option. This is former radio producer Donnie Simpson Jr.'s first foray into the foodie scene. As the 39-year-old Simpson spent four years crafting the concept, he and his family ate many muffin dinners. Considering the shop's rotating selection of flavors, that doesn't sound too shabby.
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