An Iconic D.C. seafood carryout has made a comeback but the new and improved Shrimp Boat Plaza on Benning Road NE promises to give the community what it wants.
“The first time I bought this building, I wanted to put a Checkers in but they (Ward 7 Councilmember and ANC Commissioners) were not happy it. They didn’t want another fast food restaurant to come in this neighborhood,” said owner Woundim Demissie.
So, together they came up with an all-in-one concept: Donuts, organic Ethiopian coffee, ice cream, smoothies, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can even get a cellphone if you want at the Metro PCS.
It would have been easy for the businessman to put up a Checkers he says, especially when it comes to getting a bank loan. But Demissie skipped the fast food chain and put up his own money, $1.3 million, to buy the property and give the community what they wanted.
The second phase of the project involves renovating the second floor to create a lounge and customer seating. The third phase extends the building to the back lot and beyond in order to build a market.
“A grocery store that can have 25-35% organic food and the rest – fresh, affordable food,” he explained, “this area only has one Safeway on Minnesota Avenue.”
WUSA9 joined Ward 7 Councilmember Vince Gray at a surprise inspection of that Safeway just last week that turned up spoiled meat and moldy strawberries on store shelves. Demissie was just denied a city grant for the expansion so he’s applying for another in hopes that the city will see the value of his vision.
“You are not only doing things to make money, I know as a business man still we can make money, but by working with the communities that makes sense for me,” said Demissie.
The Shrimp Boat Plaza on Benning and East Capitol Street NE is open 7 a.m.-9 p.m. The Chef said, that after three weeks, they are tweaking the menu to offer more fresh seafood options.