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Maybe running with scissors isn’t a good idea, but what about a leisurely stroll up 9th Street NW with some D.C. politicians and shiny pair of oversized golden clippers?
Mayor Vince Gray held a triple ribbon-cutting this afternoon, officially opening three new restaurants, Baby Wale at 1124 9th St. NW, Thally at 1316 9th St. NW and Mandalay at 1501 9th St. NW—all within five blocks, between L and P streets.
Gray was joined by councilmembers Vincent Orange, Jack Evans, and Tommy Wells (two of the three of whom hope to take Gray’s job) as he stopped at each restaurant to meet the owners, sample their food and, of course, stage a photo op with the giant golden scissors.
The event had a shaky start. When representatives from Shaw Main Streets and the mayor’s office arrived at Baby Wale around 1:45 p.m. (for a scheduled 2 p.m. start time), the restaurant was locked and empty, and no one had arrived to watch. (Gray’s spokesman Pedro Ribeiro expressed skepticism over whether the mayor should come to the poorly-attended event and hurried off to make a phone call.)
But by 1:55 p.m., Baby Wale opened and more guests began arriving. Shaw Main Streets touted the event as a “celebration of Shaw’s Restaurant Boom” and D.C. politicians agreed during their opening speeches before the Baby Wale ribbon cutting. “These are the kinds of opportunities that make people want to come to the city, these unique restaurant opportunities,” Gray said. “The food’s great by the way. I just had some.” (Gray also complimented the go-go decor. “Chuck Brown was a good friend of mine,” he added.)
The politicians, their staff, and spectators continued up 9th Street to Thally. (Gray did not actually carry the scissors.) The crowd reached about 50 people by the time the procession reached Burmese restaurant Mandalay, where head chef Aung Myint and his family joined Gray in the ribbon cutting.
Along the way, Shaw locals reflected on the changing neighborhood. “When I got here four years ago, this whole area scared me to death,” says Karen Keegan, a Glover Park resident who works at Independence Bank at 1301 9th St. NW. “I would never go outside the bank.”
But John Fanning, the commissioner for ANC 2F, admitted that not all locals were in favor of the restaurant boom. “Some people just think there’s an overkill of them,” he says.
Still, Fanning says he’s excited about the new 9th Street. “The kind of population that’s moving into the neighborhood, they want the nightlife,” he says. “Shaw’s been changing dramatically.”
Ribbon cutting at Baby Wale
Ribbon cutting at Thally
Photos by Ally Mutnick. Top photo of ribbon cutting at Mandalay.