The senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many other black individuals have Americans flocking the streets to protest police brutality. People of all races are wrestling with institutional racism and (finally) asking, how can I help? Voting, speaking out against racism, and donating to nonprofits that support racial justice are all ways to get involved. One of the most meaningful ways to take action is simple:
Support black-owned businesses.
Keep reading to learn about incredible black-owned businesses along the North Capitol corridor. Show your support by patronizing them frequently. When you have a good experience at these places—and trust us, you will—share it with your friends. Word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful opportunity for you to help these fantastic spots keep the doors open.
Get a Haircut at Fresh Cut Barber Shop & Salon
The year was 1992. The Redskins defeated the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI. Boyz II Men’s ballad “End Of The Road” hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. And Bernard Fernandez opened Fresh Cut Barber & Salon at 1520 North Capitol St NE in Washington, DC.
Passersby are sure to notice the barber shop’s unique façade that features art of musical legends Boz Scaggs, Donny Hathaway, and Jimi Hendrix. Inside you’ll find Mr. Bernard, who loves to joke, and his team who will welcome you in and ensure you leave stylish and happy.
What People are Saying
“If you are looking for a good cut or fade this is the place to go in DC. Fresh Cut’s is your local urban staple where I get the style I want and results that have others usually asking me where I go. If you want to look good, be in and out within 45, and don’t mind fancy fixtures missing on the wall like Super Cuts then check them out.” – Andrew R. on Yelp
“Cleanliness, Professionalism, Punctuality, Quality, Value” – Eva Washington on Google
About Fresh Cut Barber Shop & Salon
Mr. Bernard describes the salon as old fashioned. “It’s where you can be yourself. You don’t have to put on airs for anyone. The barbershop is a black man’s country club. We watch TV and basketball games together. It’s a home away from home.”
Business for Fresh Cut used to be extremely lucrative, but things have slowed down as the city has transformed over the years. Mr. Bernard opens up and admits that the COVID-19 pandemic has hit them hard.
“We are self-employed. If we don’t do nothing, we don’t get nothing. We were shut down for four months, March-June, completely. Absolutely, positively no money coming in, but bills were still coming in. We couldn’t open because of the coronavirus. We’re not doing as good as we used to do because a lot of people don’t trust coming out.”
Mr. Bernard grew up in the North Capitol corridor and refers to the area as “my community.” He wants you to know that Fresh Cut is now open for business. You can call for an appointment at 202-423-0390 and go get a haircut. To help ensure patrons stay safe, cleaning is being taken very seriously. Each morning the shop is sanitized and chairs are cleaned with bleach and water after each client. Visitors are required to wear masks. If you don’t have one with you, they will provide you with one.
When you visit Fresh Cut you’ll be joining the likes of actor Bernie Davis, boxer Riddick Bowe, professional basketball player Gilbert Arenas–all who have patronized the barbershop. You’ll also be supporting a black-owned business with an owner who is passionate about Fresh Cut and helping you look your best. “I spend a lot of time here because I like to be in the barber shop. It’s not work, I like doing it. I like cutting hair.”
Pick-Up Your Groceries at Rafael Grocery
The next time you run out of kitchen staples, skip the large chains and opt to support Rafael Grocery. From dairy items to pantry essentials, to pet food, to cleaning supplies, to wine and beer, if you need it, Rafael Grocery has it.
Letekidan Habtmicael, who goes by Kidan, has owned the shop (located at 233 Florida Ave NW) for 22 years. Kidan spent 11 years running a hotdog stand prior to opening Rafael Grocery, which is named after her youngest son. When asked why she transitioned from owning a cart to a full-blown store Kidan answered matter-of-factly, working the cart was too cold.
What people are saying
“Neighborhood staple, owners are amazingly kind people who brighten my day every time I visit.” – Max Lindsay on Google
“Rafael has all kinds of essentials at reasonable prices. The owner is so friendly and helpful. It’s a great local business.” – Annie-Laurie S. on Yelp
About Rafael’s Grocery
You won’t be asked for your super-savings card at Rafael’s, but Kidan will probably want the scoop on how you and your loved-ones are doing. Kidan shares, I love my customers. They are my family. I know them all by name. I can say 69% of their phone numbers. I call to ask how they are or ask where they’ve been. This is my family. It’s more than a grocery; I laugh and talk with them every day.
Kidan sees herself as the mother of the community. The notes of gratitude and photos of locals that adorn her store walls confirm she’s a pillar in the neighborhood. She cooks outdoors for customers and holds bookbag drives for neighborhood children. She recognizes and appreciates the support her clients have given her over the years—both financially and emotionally. This community helped me raise my kids, helped send them to college. I have to love these people.
Like many local stores, Rafael Grocery has seen a decline since the coronavirus pandemic began. Kidan explains, It’s slow. When I say slow, it’s slow. But you can’t leave your place. This is my life. I can’t leave it. Sometimes I ask myself why am I sitting here? I’m not making it, but it’s going to be better one day.
Kidan recognizes that life is hard for her customers right now. She wants her clients to know, America is going to get better. Hang in there! We have to have hope. She also does not want people to be lonely right now. Recognize we are here. Come visit us!
You can visit Kidan and pick up your groceries seven days a week, 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. every day.
Her advice for all during the pandemic, Let’s help each other. This is going to pass. Let’s have hope and pray for each other and care for each other.
Enjoy a Bagel from Sylvan Bakery
Willing to eat carbs to support a black-owned business? Head on over to Sylvan Bakery for a delicious bagel-delivered to DC straight from New Jersey. Owner Aster Jena purchased the bakery in 2015. The previous owner explained that he opened the bakery because his wife was upset the bagels in DC did not taste the same as they did in New Jersey—many say it’s because of the water. Aster knew not to mess up a good thing and continues to import the bagels every week.
What people are saying
“Sylvan cafe is a real treat. They serve great coffee (enormous portions for the cost) and offer a mix of bagel sandwiches and Ethiopian breakfast. I recently had the injera with spicy lentils and veg for $10 which I highly recommend.” – Shelbi S. on Yelp
“I love everything about Sylvan! Really delicious bagels and pastries, top notch customer service. One of my favorite local spots in the Eckington/Bloomingdale area.” – Angie A. on Google
About Sylvan Bakery
In addition to bagels, and bagel sandwiches, Sylvan Bakery offers muffins, sandwiches and coffee drinks. To add a touch of her heritage, Aster added Ethiopian Vegan dishes to the menu. Aster is originally from Ethiopia and later lived in Ghana where she owned an Ethiopian restaurant. When she moved to DC Aster knew she wanted to stay in the restaurant business and definitely wanted to, as she puts it, do her own thing. Like many women, Aster had to figure out a way to balance being a mother with her career. She explains, I have four kids. It would be hard to stay late at a restaurant because I wanted time with my kids. The coffee shop/bakery closes at 3 p.m. so I could still spend time with them.
Aster laments that business is down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Yet she wants you to know, I appreciate the Bloomingdale area. They encourage me every morning. That means something to me. It is very important.
Socialize in a New Way with Revive
People are social creatures. Studies even show that our brains work better when we interact with others. So, in a time where social distancing is the norm and large gatherings are a distant memory, how do we meet this innate need of togetherness? Charese John, co-owner of Revive Events and Catering has mastered it by getting creative.
We’re still social. We are just socializing differently, she explains. Revive is helping people bring a night out in with events such as an intimate six course tasting dinner or an Uncle Nearest whiskey tasting. (Interesting side note: Uncle Nearest is named after Nearest Green, a slave who taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey.) When your office lunch meeting went virtual did the great food disappear? Revive has you covered. They can deliver (or ship) a delicious BBQ board or beautiful cheese plate to each participant. Revive proves that virtual does not have to equal boring.
What people are saying
“Finding Revive on Yelp was a godsend! We didn’t have to lift a finger. Revive took care of every detail, menu, dinnerware, decorations, servers. Our guests raved about the party; the easiest one we’ve ever thrown. Highly recommend using Revive.” – Megan O. on Yelp
Revive came highly recommended, and I totally understand why! Revive catered for breakfast and lunch for us. The food was delicious and fresh, and everyone we worked with from Revive was responsive, kind, and accommodating. I would highly recommend Revive to anyone needing catering services – the best caterer I’ve ever worked with!” – Lindsey W. on Yelp
About Revive Events & Catering
Revive is a full-service event and design company. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, you may have found Charese perfecting every single detail of a fundraising event at the Capitol Building or managing the unique décor at a 500-person wedding.
Like many businesses, Revive’s business model had to pivot. Quickly. Charese explains, All of the social events that our city is known for are not happening. The galas for 1,500 people are not happening.
Normally fall would be extremely busy for Revive, especially being in DC during an election year. While events look different, Revive is still focused on helping people enjoy pandemic-living with small-scale events and parties. Charese’s creativity is coming into play doing events that weren’t on her radar before-such as celebrating grandparent’s week.
How can you support this local, black-owned business? Engage with Revive to create an extraordinary experience for you along with your family, friends, and/or co-workers. Whether it be a romantic picnic, a virtual networking reception, a child’s birthday celebration, or a craft cocktail class, Charese and her team can ensure it will be fun, festive, and decorative. Contact Revive to get started and follow them on InstaGram @Reviveeventsdc. (Warning: The photos will make you hungry—and possibly disappointed in your current lunch choice.)
Let’s not lose our moments due to the pandemic, Charese says. We personalize all events. We don’t have a cookie-cutter way in which we operate. Let me create something special for you.
But wait, there’s more!
There are other incredible black-owned businesses along the North Capitol corridor that deserve your support, including:
- North Capitol Pharmacy, which was highlighted in Self-Care Day.
- Jam Doung Style, which you can read more about in Hidden Gems.
- Creative Grounds, which is discussed in Family Day.
- DCity Smokehouse, which is featured in Family Day.
- Bloom, formerly Wicked Bloom, will be highlighted in the upcoming Date Night Ideas blog.