Many Georgetowners may remember La Jolie Bleue, the Mediterranean bakery on Wisconsin Ave. Unfortunately, the eatery, like many others, fell to the pandemic last year. The shop had grown steadily, beginning at farmer’s markets around town. They secured space on Wisconsin Ave. and when they tried to renegotiate their lease (and $6,500 in monthly rent), owners Tahar and Djamila Slimani lost everything in the subsequent restaurant closure.
Neighbor Carole Sargent (PhD, director of the Office of Scholarly Publications at Georgetown University) felt that she needed to do something. She created a fundraiser for Djamila for Ms. Slimani’s “lovely cooking and beautiful care of a woman experiencing homelessness.”
“She spoke to that woman in their shared native languages, fed her and also engaged the Georgetown Ministry Center to help her in a more sustainable way,” she said. “This is the neighborhood I want in Georgetown, where people care for one another and catch each other in the act of doing good.”
Before the restaurant closed, Sargent would visit La Jolie Bleue and noticed Tahar and Djamila were helping the homeless woman, who had been sleeping in Volta Park. “The lady lost everything,” Tahar said. “She was an IT engineer and 15 years ago, lost it all.” The woman mentioned she had two now grown children who were taken from her when she became homeless.
Sargent noticed the woman was sleeping in the neighborhood and asked to help pay for some of the woman’s food.
Sargent chose to pay-it-forward, helping Tahar and Djamila as they manage, with Djamila working part-time at a daycare while Tahar does occasional catering. “We didn’t ask Carole to help, she wanted to,” Tahar said, his voice cracking, expressing his gratitude.
Djamila said that Tahar and she are planning to use the money from the fundraising efforts to buy a new gas commercial oven and other appliances for their commercial kitchen, which is currently under construction and due to finish by the end of March.
“We will use our kitchen for farmers markets and some festivals like we did in the past,” she added. “This fundraising will certainly help us get back to business.”
The name La Jolie Bleue means “the beautiful blue,” and is a direct reference to the Mediterranean Sea.
You can donate to the Slimanis by clicking https://www.facebook.com/donate/646241716622529/.