The Washington Post ran a very troubling report todayabout how the crappy economy is impacting D.C.’s prized Ethiopian restaurants. The theory is that with fewer fares, the area’s cabbies, many of them Ethiopians, can no longer afford to dine at their favorite restaurants in Little Ethiopia.
Here’s the depressing section from N.C. Aizenman‘s piece:
But at $10 a meal, eating out has become too much of a luxury. Shortly after 1 p.m., Aboubaker pulled over to a curb and popped the trunk of his cab to reveal his new lunchtime ritual: a small plastic container that his wife had filled with chickpeas and a few torn pieces of injera.
Other cabbies have adopted the same practice, said Habesha’s co-owner, Yared Mamo. He estimated that at least 70 percent of his business came from the cabdrivers. “It’s very serious. Our earnings are down like 20 or 30 percent,” he said, surveying his empty restaurant on a recent afternoon. “Even when the cabdrivers do come, they end up sharing a plate between two or three or maybe four people.”
One restaurant on the strip has closed. Another has stopped serving lunch. Mamo said he is planning to change the menu to appeal more to non-Africans.
So go, right now, to one of your favorite Ethiopian restaurants and order some kitfo or tibs or any other traditional dish. The last thing we want is for our Ethiopian restaurants to become more Americanized.