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Home​NewsRAMW Launches Winter Restaurant Week on H Street

RAMW Launches Winter Restaurant Week on H Street

15 restaurants on the H Street Corridor are participating in Winter Restaurant Week from Jan. 15 to 21—the highest participation ever for the neighborhood. During the launch at Stable (1326 H St. NE) Thursday, advocates and business owners on the street say the strong restaurant scene is only one glimpse at a strong business community misrepresented by media narratives.

Restaurant Week highlights flat-rate brunch, lunch and dinner menus. The concept was created 23 years ago to get people back outside and in restaurants after 9-11. It is an opportunity to try the diverse cuisine offered across the District, said Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) President & CEO Shawn Townsend at the event launch Jan. 11. “At its core, we want to bring folks out to our corridors to try new things,” Townsend said, “to go to their favorite restaurants, to use it as a catalyst as an economic driver for our corridors.”

That’s one reason why RAMW launched the Jan. 11 from Stable (1326 H St. NE), the Swiss restaurant located in the District’s Atlas District. A month prior, Townsend said, he and Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D) had met for lunch down the street, where they came up with the idea to launch the winter celebration of District food on H.

Charles Allen (Ward 6-D) and Shawn Townsend of RAMW prior to the Jan. 11 press conference launching Winter Restaurant Week. Photo: E.O’Gorek/CCN

Elephant in the Room

Numerous articles have bemoaned a perceived uptick in crime and perceived “decline” of H Street. Several high-profile closures have hit the corridor in the past year, including of DC Harvest,  Pursuit Wine Bar and seafood restaurant Brine.

Townsend acknowledged that choosing H Street NE for the launch was an effort to bring attention to the corridor. But he said that there are challenges across the nation that are not unique to H Street. “I think this is one of the ways we can come together as a community as a city to unify and also support our businesses,” he said.

That is the primary goal, said Ward 6 representative Charles Allen. He acknowledged that there are challenges. “If there’s one crime that takes place on H Street or anyone else, that’s one too many.”

But Allen added, “it is incumbent on the government and as businesses to focus on working towards solutions and also to focus on lifting up and highlighting the really great businesses that we have on H Street.” That was the reason for the launch on H, he said.

Townsend also emphasized a look at the positive. He said he’s gotten repeated media calls about restaurant closures but none about openings, despite the fact that the region has seen more openings than closures.

That holds true for H Street as well. While many beloved restaurants have closed on the corridor, stars have also been born in the last year and a half, including Filipino restaurant Hiraya (1250 H St. NE), Purl (644 H St. NE), Bronze (1245 H St. NE) and Tiki Garden Thai Street Food (1252 H St. NE). That’s aside from Michelin-starred restaurants Cane (403 H St. NE) and Maketto (1351 H St. NE) and fan-favorites such as Granville Moore’s (1238 H St. NE) the Little Grand (808 Seventh St. NE, in the Apollo) and Irregardless (502 H St. NE), most of which are offering restaurant week menus.

Stable is also on the list of favorites. Opened in 2017, Stable specializes in dishes like fondue, raclette, rosti and bratwurst (but don’t sleep on the baked goods), billing itself as “the only Swiss restaurant in the DMV.” They’re offering many of their hits on a $65 a la carte dinner menu that includes appetizer, main, dessert, coffee or tea. It’s your chance to try their noted Raclette or celery root carpaccio. Follow it with the traditional cheese fondue and finish with the caramel köpfil, a Swiss-style flan.

Townsend and Stable Co-Owner Silvan Kraemer. Photo: E.O’Gorek/CCN

Focus on Wrong Thing

Owner Silvan Kraemer acknowledges that crime is a concern all over the District, but says he doesn’t feel less safe than when the restaurant opened. “I think crime has increased in the country, in DC and the area in general, and I don’t know for what reason H Street has been the focus highlighted in the press over other neighborhoods in DC which experience exactly the same thing,” Kraemer said.

Stable is no stranger to crime; at the end of last year, Kraemer’s co-owner David Fritsche was carjacked as he filled up at a gas station at 15th Street and Maryland Avenue NE. There have been several high-profile crimes on H Street, including the attack of an NFL player in 2022 and of a member of Congress last year.

But Kraemer’s point is founded in data. While those crimes might get more media attention, crime data for the area isn’t atypical of other District neighborhoods. Between Jan 2023 and Jan 2024, violent crime reported on DC Crime Cards for the two-blocks radius north and south of H Street NE (between Fourth and Fourtheenth Streets NE) indicated 55 crimes, 1 of them a homicide; it was a 10 percent increase versus the previous year. During the same period there were 62 violent crimes reported for U Street NW in a two-block radius north and south between Ninth and Eighteenth Street NW, four of them listed as a homicide. That was a fifteen percent increase over the previous year.

Long-term H Street business owners say the street has changed and it will change again.

“Crime it is not unique to H Street,” said Sandra Basanti. Basanti opened the Pie Shop on H Street nearly 14 years ago, initially living on the second floor as she built out her shop. “It doesn’t necessarily feel like a magnifying glass is warranted since I’ve seen conditions worse than now and I don’t remember there ever being hit pieces about H Street back then.”

CHAMPS ED and owner of The Pug Tony Tomelden with Pie Shop Owner Sandra Basanti. Photo: E.O’Gorek/CCN

Tight Knit Community

While crime is an urban reality, the focus is on the wrong thing, Basanti said. It should be on community, and on solutions. “The business owners on H Street are a tight-knit community —i mean, we talk to each other; we’re constantly texting with each other,” said Basanti. “And then on top of that, we  have such a dedicated community of residents around us… There’s something to be said for that.“

After Fritsche was carjacked, it was Dr. Matthew Antkowiak from neighboring AtlasVet that rallied the community around him, establishing a Gofundme that raised nearly $20,000 to help the Stable co-owner before Anthkowiak shut it down.

Tony Tomelden is the owner of The Pug and Executive Director of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce (CHAMPS). He said that social media is part of the problem. “Everybody thinks that al of these things are going to be taken care of in 140 characters, but they’re very complex issues,” he said. The focus on crime is distracting from the other challenges to running a business in DC. But, Tomelden said, “there’s also no focus on what a great strip of real estate H Street is.”

“I’ve been here the whole time —and it’s just like everything else,” said the Pug owner. ”There’s ups and downs, but there are so many more residents here than there were before. It’s different than when we opened, and we have to embrace it,” Tomelden said. “I’m not going anywhere.”

H Street NE restaurant Hiraya celebrates the flavors of the Phillippines at 1250 H St. NE. Photo: E.O’Gorek/CCN

Increased Membership

The tight-knit community and a desire to control their futures have driven up membership in RAMW. Over the months previous, Townsend said, RAMW had worked to increase membership among restaurants in the Atlas District, many of which have traditionally have not been members.

A RAMW survey found that restaurant patronage has declined even as costs associated with business, from labor to ingredients and rent, have increased since 2019.

Stable co-owner Silvan Kraemer said RAMW has done a lot for restaurants in the DMV. Restaurant week, he said, is a great deal for both the operators and the patrons. “I think it’s great to showcase your restaurant,” Kraemer said Thursday, “to showcase what you actually do and to get people out to dine with us.”

For RAMW leader Townsend, it’s not just about restaurant week but about the industry overall. Membership, he said, is important in terms of advocacy in particular for legislation in DC Council. In June, Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie introduced the Workers and Restaurants Are Priorities (WRAP) Act. Among other measures, the WRAP Act would end the tipped wage two years sooner than scheduled; waive sales tax on service charges for small groups and establish a public education campaign about restaurant wages.

“It’s about ensuring that we let our restaurants know that we are here to support them, and one of the ways that we support is by doing this here today,” Townsend said.

Eat Here Today

You can support your neighborhood restaurants. 15 different H Street NE restaurants are participating along the corridor, including Cane, Ethiopic, Granville Moore’s, Irregardless, The Little Grand, Maketto, Mozzeria, Paste & Rind, Pow Pow, The Queen Vic, Sospeso, Stable DC, Sticky Fingers Diner, Sticky Rice and Tiki Garden Thai Street Food, plus more than a dozen on Capitol Hill. Altogether, 200 restaurants are participating across the District alone with another 100 in the wider RAMW region.

View the full list, sortable by neighborhood, at: https://ramw.org/restaurantweek

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