Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Shaw Interview Series: U Street Cafe

U Street Cafe (right beyond the border of Shaw Proper located on U Street between 13th and 14th) is a business contributing to the "Small Town in a Big City" personality of Shaw and its neighboring streets.

John Richardson, Operations Manager for the cafe, and Patrick Coyle, the cafe's Director of Marketing, sat down with me in their shop to give some information about why we should pay attention to U Street Cafe.

And we should pay attention to U Street Cafe.  Why?  Consider U Street Cafe's emphasis on supporting local food:  local bakers supply the bread; the produce found within the Cafe is local; even the coffee is local.

As Patrick puts it:  "This is not your cookie-cutter large cafe chain.  This is an authentic, independent business supporting local produce.  This is a breakfast and lunch joint where you find good food at reasonable prices.  There is that comfortable, at-home feel here."

And the food is not only local, it is taken care of once it's delivered to the cafe.  As John states:  "The food here doesn't sit around.  Unlike larger chains, we make our food fresh and order only what we need.  Everything here is home cooked in the kitchen.  None of our food is packaged.  We want to keep the personality of home cooking in our business."

U Street Cafe's coffee is, as John claims, "a higher trade of coffee."  Locally brewed in Columbia, MD, Orinoco supplies U Street Cafe with the amount of coffee they need to ensure the coffee is fresh, never losing its aromatic quality.  "We are not interested in wasting large quantities of food.  We're representing the community, and the community is intelligent, so U Street Cafe has to live up to the personalities of the community," John and Patrick explain.

"We love being close to Howard University," says Patrick.  We try to offer students an environment where they can come and escape from the dorms.  U Street Cafe has supported students in the past, previously offering "student discount days" where students could purchase everything at 10% off.  

When I asked John and Patrick about the future of Shaw, and the streets right around the borders of Shaw, they said this:  "Shaw is great.  It is the next rising, evolving, residential urban center.  It is accessible and smart since it feels residential but you have everything commercial right outside your doorstep.  It's well balanced with both commercial and residential districts coordinating together in a friendly, cooperative, seamless state."

I asked John and Patrick if they thought it was a "small town in a big city," which is the term Ralph Brabham, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Shaw Main Streets, used when describing Shaw.

"Definitely," John and Patrick said in unison.  "That's a great way to describe it."

If you would like more information regarding U Street Cafe, visit their website at http://www.ustreetcafe.com/

Thank you again to John Richardson and Patrick Coyle for their time with this interview.


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