Washington, DC (STL.News) Today, as she kicked off DMV Black Restaurant Week, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced nearly $9 million in grants through the Food Access Fund to provide funding to food businesses to open new locations in Wards 7 and 8. Mayor Bowser included the $58 million initiative in her Fair Shot Budget with the goal of eradicating food deserts and creating employment opportunities and economic vibrancy.
“We have an incredible amount of entrepreneurial talent and creativity in DC, especially in our restaurant and foodservice industries – it’s just not equally distributed or equally funded. The Food Access Grants are going to change that,” said Mayor Bowser. “With this $58 million fund, we can bring DC favorites like HalfSmoke that currently operate in some of our most popular corridors on the west side of the city and support them in opening new locations in Wards 7 and 8. We can also support popular spots that are already in Wards 7 and 8, like MLK Deli, and make sure they have the resources necessary to expand and reach more Washingtonians. We already know that we have residents in every part of our city who are eager to support local businesses; the Food Access Grants are not only delivering more food options to Wards 7 and 8, they’re delivering new opportunities to stay local and shop local.”
The Food Access Fund recipients include:
- DCity Smokehouse, a Black-owned business serving smokehouse BBQ since 2013 on Florida & North Capitol St, will open a new location in Anacostia in Ward 8.
- Fresh Food Factory, a grocery store that sells affordably priced fresh and healthy food, will open a new location in Kenilworth in Ward 7.
- HalfSmoke, a restaurant serving unique and complex foodservice design, combining elements of a quick-service restaurant, café, and gastro pub, will open two new locations at Skyland Town Center and Downtown Minnesota Ave in Ward 7.
- Highland Café, a local hangout, a place where friends, family and neighbors can fellowship and enjoy coffee and delicious meals, will open a new location in the Penn Branch neighborhood of Ward 7.
- MLK Deli, a restaurant serving traditional classic sandwiches with a unique twist will open a new location in Deanwood in Ward 7.
- Roots 657 Café, an eat-in and take-out café and market, will open a new location at Skyland in Ward 7.
- Sala Thai, a restaurant serving Thai food, will open a location in the Hill East neighborhood of Ward 7.
- Sweet Tooth, a restaurant serving gourmet specialty cakes and pastries for over 25 years, will open a location in Anacostia in Ward 8.
- The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development is opening the next application round today to attract businesses creating food access points whether it is a grocery store, restaurant, fast casual restaurant, and the like in areas with low food access, with a focus on Wards 7 and 8.
“Through Mayor Bowser’s investments we are ensuring that more District residents, especially our neighbors in Ward 7 and 8, have access to the food options they deserve and that are already enjoyed in other parts of the District,” said Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio. “As we celebrate DMV Black Restaurant Week, I am proud that we are announcing the latest recipients of our Food Access Fund, which will create even more food access points in Wards 7 & 8.”
Mayor Bowser has launched several initiatives that expand food access options and choices for residents across the District. Along with the $58 million Food Access Fund, the FY22 Budget Support Act changed the Supermarket Tax Credit to focus eligibility to areas most in need of grocery stores, expand support to more fresh food retailers, and add community engagement requirements for grocers. These investments prioritize equitable food access, particularly in Wards 7 and 8. As a result, more than 162,000 residents will gain food access points within one mile of their home. On Saturday, the Mayor will also celebrate the opening of Good Food Markets in Ward 8, made possible by the Neighborhood Prosperity Fund, which is the predecessor to the Food Access Fund.
Today, Mayor Bowser also proclaimed November 7-14 as DMV Black Restaurant Week and encouraged the community to support Black-owned restaurants and foodservice providers. This year, Mayor Bowser provided $10,000 in funding to support the DMV Black Restaurant Week efforts and in 2018, DMV Black Restaurant Week was an inaugural grantee of the Mayor’s Office on African American Affairs through the African American Community Grant. DMV Black Restaurant Week was established in 2018 and strives to promote the many local Black-owned restaurants and food service providers throughout Washington, DC and our Metropolitan area. This year’s theme for DMV Black Restaurant Week—embracing our diversity through food, beverage, and music—emphasizes the significance of sustaining growth and shared values by fostering strategic partnerships designed to highlight businesses that are a prominent aspect of the city’s and region’s broader economy and food ecosystem.
“Our region is a melting pot of black culture from all around the world and we are going to celebrate the black makers of food, beverages, and music from the Diaspora that is found right here,” said Furard Tate, co-founder, DMV Black Restaurant Week.