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Colony Club co-owner Max Zuckerman announced on Instagram today that his Park View cafe will change its name after five years in business. “Several customers expressed concern about using the word ‘colony,’ pointing to its very negative associations with colonialism, and further connecting that definition with the in-progress gentrification of the neighborhood,” Zuckerman writes. He named Colony Club after his grandmother’s flower shop that was also on Georgia Avenue NW.
Back in 2016, Kymone Freeman, a co-owner of We Act Radio, talked about Colony Club on The Kojo Nnamdi Show, calling it one of the driving forces of gentrification in the Northwest D.C. neighborhood. He also said the name was “extremely offensive.” Zuckerman then separately chatted with show producer Avery Kleinman.
The name change comes as many businesses evaluate whether they’re doing enough to be anti-racist, supporting multiculturalism, and advancing racial justice in the workplace and in the communities they serve.
Zuckerman and his co-owner, Ben Heller, have not yet picked a new name for their business. Read Zuckerman’s full statement below:
Dear Park View Community,
When we opened Colony Club over five years ago our goal was to create a neighborhood gathering spot where everyone felt welcome. Becoming a part of the fabric of this community, having neighbors and staff become family and friends, has been a privilege. Ensuring that our space has a positive impact remains a responsibility.
From the beginning we’ve tried to be aware of what our presence means to people. It’s no secret that our neighborhood, like many parts of DC, has seen massive gentrification over the last decade or so, and that’s caused a lot of pain. There’s no denying that new businesses like ours play a role in that process, along with other businesses and organizations. Navigating how to be a positive force for all members of our community has always been a priority, from donating funds and space to local groups, to sponsoring a Little League team, to treating everyone who walks in the door with kindness and respect.Still, we are learning to do better.
Over the years we’ve been asked about the Colony Club name and what it means. Several customers expressed concern about using the word “colony”, pointing to its very negative associations with colonialism, and further connecting that definition with the in-progress gentrification of the neighborhood.
The name comes from my grandparents’ flower shop, which was also located on Georgia Avenue. The flower shop was named after a nearby theater, a neighborhood landmark. For better or worse, I felt that if we just explained the origin of the name, and how it honors the history of the neighborhood, it would become disconnected from its other associations, and that our actions would speak louder than words.
After talking with staff and customers, we’ve learned that the power of that word to hurt is real, no matter the justification for using it. So while it feels bittersweet to say goodbye to a name with personal significance, the time has come for Colony Club to transition to a new name, one that upholds our mission to be an inclusive community. We haven’t settled on exactly what that name will be yet, but we’re hoping to phase it in very soon.
Please keep an eye on our website and Instagram account for updates on our reopening as well as actionable steps we are taking, beyond the changing of our name, to become a better community of support and change. We really appreciate all the support and input over the last five years, and we look forward to sharing a coffee with you soon. In the meantime please feel free to reach out with questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Max and the Colony Club Team