Anacostia and Restaurants

by Mary Catherine Collins

The idea of community gardens at fort sites has been tossed around, perhaps building on nationwide initiatives for healthy eating (particularly First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative encouraging healthy habits for children).  On Sunday Feb 19th I read an article in the Washington Post describing the non-existent dining options east of the Anacostia: In D.C., a push for better restaurants east of the Anacostia River

Quick Points From Article:

  • There are only 6 known restaurants with wait service in an area of 140,000 residents.
  • Fast food and carry-out are the main options
  •  Entrepreneurs are divided on whether there is real potential for investment:
  • Some say this area will gentrify, especially with new homeland security offices at St. Elizabeth’s (the new Homeland Security campus is projected to bring in over 10,000 people to the area inevitably inflicting change to the character of this area). Some entrepreneurs are speculating that they will be “finding the right deal” to open restaurants in Anacostia only one year from now.
    • Others say there is not enough disposable income in the area to support sit-down restaurants. On the other hand, some residents say the area is stigmatized and this is not necessarily true.
  • A possibility exists that the area needs community centers/nodes of socializing that restaurants/bars/cafes could provide.
  • The Post published a district map with points of “restaurants with table service/wait staff” which might be useful for GIS team and mapping

Could CWDW capitalize on the perceived or real need of a community node and use food service (in some form) as a catalyst? NPS has already told us that SE uses a number of the fort sites as gathering points for social events like picnics, concerts, reunions, etc. Maybe we redefine National Parks in terms of the role they can have in establishing community gathering points and in this instance, food (or food consumption) could be the enabling factor.