Posts Tagged Andy Shallal

Before build-out, Busboys & Poets applies for ABRA license

Old Bowling Alley Facade -- no more plywoodBefore the re-zoning and build-out of the otherworldly hyped Anacostia franchise of Busboys & Poets begins, an ABRA license has been applied for by Busboys of Anacostia, LLC for an American Bistro planned to service “290 patrons and total occupancy load of 325.”

The initial hearing was last week with a protest hearing date set for May 27, 2015. Full info below …

In related news, the plywood covering the first floor facade adorned with banners announcing Busboys & Poets’ imminent landing has been gone for a number of weeks now. The wind gusts that crumbled 1909 – 1913 MLK Jr. Avenue are the reported culprit.




Posting Date:                          January 16, 2015

Petition Date:                          March 2, 2015

Hearing Date:                          March 16, 2015

Protest Hearing Date:             May 27, 2015



License No.:                            ABRA-097639

Licensee:                                 Busboys of Anacostia, LLC

Trade Name:                           Busboys & Poets

License Class:                         Retailer’s Class “C” Restaurant

Address:                                  2004-2010 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, S.E.

Contact:                                  Stephen O’Brien: 202-625-7700



WARD   8                ANC 8A                     SMD 8A06


Notice is hereby given that this applicant has applied for a new license under the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Act and that the objectors are entitled to be heard before the granting of such license on the hearing date at 10:00 am, 2000 14th Street, N.W., 400 South, Washington, DC 20009.  Petitions and/or requests to appear before the Board must be filed on or before the petition date.  The Protest Hearing Date is scheduled for May 27, 2015 at 1:30 pm.



American bistro with full entree menu serving breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. Background music and live entertainment will be provided to include, but not limited to, poetry reading, occasional showing of films, and a pianist. No nude performances. Seating for 290 patrons and total occupancy load of 325.



Sunday through Thursday 7 am – 2 am, Friday and Saturday 7 am – 3 am



Sunday through Thursday 8 am – 2 am, Friday and Saturday 8 am – 3 am



Sunday through Thursday 11 am – 2 am, Friday and Saturday 11 am – 3 am



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What will it take for Busboys & Poets to open in Anacostia?

Now that Busboys & Poets has announced plans to open a restaurant in Anacostia in the spring of 2016 the hard work begins. At last month’s announcement few intimate details of the deal were shared, leaving many familiar with neighborhood development to question the project’s timeline.

Busboys & Poets plans to open an outlet in Anacostia in 2016.

The Far SE Family Strengthening Collaborative, which has owned the vacant building at 2004 – 2010 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE since late 2012, is primarily a case management social service provider without a record of development experience. The non-profit will most likely have to rely on a series of substantial city funds from the Department of Employment Services, Department of Housing and Community Development, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and others to make the project possible, according to a developer who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Perry Moon, executive director of the Collaborative, says the community should prepare itself for a “long process.”

What will that process entail? That process will include forming partnerships with a development team and culinary training team and securing financing, none of which appear to be in place.


In late December 2012 the Collaborative purchased the former bowling alley and furniture store for $2.195 million. According to tax records, as of May their outstanding mortgage stood at more than $1.7 million. With a reported revenue, mostly in the form of city grants and case management government transfer payments, after expenses of nearly $0.54 million the Collaborative faces significant capital shortfalls to finance the development.

Since their purchase the property has remained vacant, generating no revenue. Nearly five years ago Unity Healthcare and the DC Primary Care Association identified the building for a new health facility. The neighborhood organized opposition and Unity eventually built a complex adjacent to the Frederick Douglass House.

At the announcement Andy Shallal, founder of Busboys & Poets, indicated he would be signing a 20-year lease. Moon declined to name the conditions of the lease. The Collaborative currently rents offices in the Anacostia Professional Building across the street, and, according to neighborhood sources, plans to relocate at the end of 2015. These present tight deadlines to make a deal.

“They didn’t announce the lease in clear terms,” says Rev. Oliver “OJ” Johnson, a former board member of multiple community development corporations in Anacostia, who began his activism during the administrations of Mayor Washington and President Nixon. “I haven’t seen a prospectus of an agreement detailing what Busboys will or will not contribute to the build out. There’s no evidence there’s any money in this. In order for any bank to underwrite a loan they have to see funding feasibility, the sources of expected grants and other planned revenue streams. There’s nothing here.”

Johnson also questioned the decision making process narrative advanced by the Collaborative. “There’s been no public hearing process or community meetings. There was one or two invite-only meetings. Not one 8A Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner spoke at the press conference. They haven’t been given notice of what their script is. Last [month’s] event was improvised to the fullest.”

Asked if partnerships with area culinary schools, Marriott Hospitality High School and others are being pursued to open a culinary institute, Moon said, “We’re looking at all options.”

“There are no current plans for funding for this redevelopment because none has been applied for,” wrote Marcus A. Williams, Community Outreach Director for DHCD. “However, DHCD has had ongoing conversations with both the Collaborative and Busboys to discuss what subsidies the Department might be able to offer through an open and transparent competitive process. The developer is welcome to submit a proposal to request support for this project next spring when the Department releases information about the 2015 funding competition.”

Summing up sentiments of both the neighborhood and city officials Williams said, “We are excited to see interest in development in Ward 8 and specifically in revitalizing Historic Anacostia.”

Build Out

The proposed build out of 2004 – 2010 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE.

The two-story building was constructed in 1940 as a bowling alley and has most recently served as a Masonic lodge and furniture store. Its current space of 20,848 square feet is not enough to house Busboys & Poets on the ground floor and the administrative offices of the Collaborative and a culinary training school on the 2nd floor. Plans to add a third floor and build upon the rear one-story wing passed Historic Preservation Review Board earlier this year and are incorporated into design drawings. Construction would add 7,000 – 10,000 additional square feet.

“The build out will start immediately to bring the building into code and then it will be turned over to Busboys and Poets for our fit out,” Shallal wrote in an email.

A look at the interior of the future Busboys & Poets.

According to a Historic Preservation Office staff report by Time Dennee, the building “has hallmarks of the Art Moderne style: uniform light-colored brick, a curved northwest corner, and streamlining suggested by the contrasting, projecting brick flanking the windows and the simple continuous projections above the storefront and as a schematic cornice.”

An addition brings the building’s total height to 45 feet, making it the tallest building within the Anacostia Historic District. Most of the building’s structure – column, beam and slab construction with brick-faced block exterior walls – would be retained and used. The roof and one-story rear wing will be lost with the proposed addition. A storefront in the first-floor facade will also be added.

Signature project for Mayor Bowser?

The lone city employee to speak at last month’s event was the late Councilmember Barry’s chief of staff. The absence of mayor-elect Bowser (who was announced to speak) was telling, according to a number of developers and neighborhood activists in attendance.

Perry Moon of the Collaborative addresses the crowd at last month’s announcement.

“Most likely no current agency director will be around when this project gets started. Nobody can make a promise or a hold a commitment right now. This will have to be a signature project for Muriel’s administration. They’ll have to wait for her to settle in which will take time,” says Johnson.

A developer who spoke on the condition of anonymity offered, “Did you hear Shallal with the one-off applause line, ‘I should have been Mayor!’? Muriel doesn’t want to share the stage with him.”

With Moon giving duplicative answers to a series of questions, including, “How is this really going to happen?” he closed our phone interview by saying, “This will be a long process. We’ll work to see that the community remains excited and enthusiastic and stays with us.”

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Wash Post: Busboys and Poets owner plans Anacostia restaurant and training program

Busboys and Poets owner plans Anacostia restaurant and training program

Andy Shallal, owner of Busboys and Poets and recent candidate for D.C. mayor. (Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

Andy Shallal, owner of Busboys and Poets and recent candidate for D.C. mayor. (Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

In his Busboys and Poets restaurants, owner Andy Shallal frequently weaves together food and drink with arts, music and performance space. 

With his newest project he may be adding a new component: education and job training.

Shallal recently signed a letter of intent to open a restaurant in a former furniture store on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue Southeast, in Anacostia, according to two sources familiar with the deal. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because a final agreement has not been signed.

The property, located at 2004-2010 Martin Luther King, would have a Shallal restaurant on the first floor that would be combined with a culinary training program.

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), which supports community development projects in D.C. neighborhoods, has signed on as an investor in the project. Shallal declined to comment.

Shallal, a recent candidate for D.C. mayor, may soon have restaurants in all corners of the city. If he opens a Busboys at the location it would likely be his seventh in the region and it would be the first of his popular restaurants to open east of the Anacostia River. He is opening a fifth Busboys in Takoma and will open a sixth in Brookland this fall.

Shallal made economic development a major part of his mayoral campaign platform, proposing to fund more programs for job readiness and working to reduce poverty by creating good jobs. He repeatedly pledged to open a restaurant east of the river and said recently that he was considering multiple locations in Anacostia.

Unlike many neighborhoods in Northwest, where restaurants have been opening at a breakneck pace, Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue has added bits of retail in fits and starts during the past few years. The two-story brick building – long adorned with an America’s Furniture sign — has been vacant in recent years but was purchased in late 2012 by the Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative, for $2.2 million. 

The former furniture store, on Martin Luther King, will be renovated into a restaurant and office space (Jeffrey MacMillan - Capital Business)

The organization, founded in 1996, connects children and families in Ward 8 to safety net services and has been eliciting input from residents about what they would like to see added to the neighborhood.

“Once we purchased the property on MLK we engaged the community in a series of conversations to really hear about what they saw as needs in the community, and what they would like to see on the avenue and in the space,” said Perry Moon Jr., executive director of the group.

The collaborative plans to build its new offices on the second floor of the building, where it will relocate from the Anacostia Professional Building down the street. Moon declined to discuss the plans for the first floor but said residents wanted “training programs that led to employment” and that part of that meant “bringing retail in the community and opportunities for folks to do stuff in their own community.”

Basic demolition work has begun and Moon said that once construction begins it should last about a year.

“Most people who live in this community, their desires are pretty similar. So it’s really our goal to help kind of be a catalyst for economic development as part of our mission,” he said.

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz

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