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City Desk

Are You Being Served?

For nine years, the Imani Cafe on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE has been a preferred spot for D.C. politicos in search of a hearty meal and a good photo op. As the only sit-down restaurant in Anacostia, the business had been touted as a harbinger of east-of-the-river economic revival. Imani’s owner, Lamont Mitchell, even served for a time as Mayor Anthony A. Williams’ east-of-the-river development coordinator. Now D.C. politicians will have to settle for takeout lake trout and even less satisfying rhetoric: On Feb. 2, Mitchell will close Imani’s doors for good, because his landlords, the Anacostia Economic Development Corp. and ARCH Development Corp., raised his rent after he fell behind in payments. Both organizations received money from the District government to attract and sustain businesses east of the river. “[They] take government money to promote economic development but at the same time run folks out,” says Mitchell. —Jonetta Rose Barras