Georgetown Main Street’s ‘Coffee & Community’ to Boost Business Vibrancy

“To build a stronger Georgetown community with our neighbors and among small businesses,” was a primary new year’s objective for Georgetown Main Street (GMS) at the turn of 2023. So, the group has launched “Coffee & Community” gatherings for “every third Thursday.” At this morning’s inaugural morning coffee – held from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Clubhouse DC at 1070 Wisconsin Ave. NW – over 40 enthusiastic attendees sipped complimentary java, gnoshed on breakfast pastries and socialized with their local neighbors, business owners and community representatives.

The buzzing kaffee klatch was attended by a broad assortment of guests, from ANC commissioners, to the Citizens Association of Georgetown, to members of the Georgetown BID, Georgetown Heritage, Georgetown Village, drop-by folks, and even members of the Metropolitan Police Department on community detail. Also spotted: representatives from Neighbors DC LLC, Washington Printmakers Gallery, Georgetown Butcher, Gallery Article-15, Spicez, Build Design Center (NEWish), Dent Place Market, Georgetown Massage & Body Work, Fitness Together, Reverie, Leap/HOBO, and Boathouse Apparel. 

“This is a great turnout. For the first one [of these community coffees], we’re delighted!” GMS Board Chair Melanie Hayes told The Georgetowner.  “The idea is to facilitate creating a very casual space for everyone to get ‘acquainted and reacquainted,’ she said. “We’re planning to do this once a month and also [in upcoming gatherings] to have one business owner get up to speak and tell us about the store [or business] they’re working on. The idea is to have a very social, casual and pleasant way to get people together.” 

“It’s also an opportunity for the business owners particularly to get together and share resources,” said Iesha Holy, board vice-chair of GMS. “We love for them to all intermingle and get to know each other,” added Hayes. 

Hayes expressed appreciation for GMS executive director Rachel Shank for “making it all happen,” and to Clubhouse DC owner Geoff Dawson for providing “such a great space, right in Georgetown,” that’s “so open and allows for people to kind of come and go about so easily. It’s fantastic.” She also credited GMS executive board member Duck-ki Yu of Major at 1415 Wisconsin Ave. NW whose personal connection to Dawson helped “facilitate” landing the primo space for the gathering.

Samantha Ring, co-founder and co-owner of Boathouse Apparel, told us of her excitement to be connecting to so many members of the Georgetown community. She’s working with Georgetown House Hotel at 1061 31st Street along the C&O Canal to create a retail space visible to the canal towpath for her “resort lifestyle apparel brand” and she’ll be opening a Boathouse Apparel store nearby in April, 2023. The store will feature “relaxed loungewear” as well as “elevated knitwear that’s very specific to Georgetown.” 

Samantha Ring of Boathouse Apparel. Photo by Chris Jones.

Originally from Iowa, Ring developed Boathouse Apparel with her partners into a coast-to-coast outlet “from Martha’s Vineyard to Santa Monica.” But, she and her husband and their 22-month-old boy will be staying in Georgetown. “I’ve been here for 12 years and this is my hometown [now], Ring said. “I feel pretty passionate about staying here and we’re looking forward to staying – we love it!” 

We also chatted with Elizabeth Jaffee, owner and director of Gallery Article-15 at 1624 Wisconsin Ave. NW. She’s excited to announce that 2023 will be a “really exciting calendar year” for her new gallery. “We’ll be launching what’s going to be an incredible exhibition and [related] social events with what’s really the best-known Congolese artists exhibiting for the first time ever in the United States at our gallery.” After arduous work finalizing permits and licensing, Jaffee is thrilled to be in the heart of Georgetown’s business district. “The space is so perfect and we love being in Georgetown,” she said. “And, even though it was a lot of work and time, it was worth it because we’re so happy being on Book Hill.” 

Elizabeth Jaffee of Gallery Article-15. Photo by Chris Jones.

Jaffee is not only spreading the word about Article-15’s ground-breaking upcoming exhibits, but also looking forward to community events in Georgetown. “We always love participating in the Georgetown events, the French Market, Art All Night, and the Gallery Art Walks,” she added. “We love Georgetown Main Street. We love working with the other businesses. We love being in Georgetown. For us, it’s our home. I live here as well. So, just to come here and see all the businesses and exchange ideas is wonderful,” she said. “To see new businesses coming in and the vibrance they bring. It’s always great.” 

At the coffee bar, we chatted with Duk-ki Yu, founder and owner of Major at 1415 Wisconsin Ave. NW, a “trendy boutique overflowing with high-end sneakers, plus skater apparel, hats and bags,” per Major’s website. Serving on GMS’s marketing and PR committee, he was pleased to see how the idea for these coffee gatherings took shape. “They had an idea to bring the community together…. We thought breakfast coffee would be the best way to organize this…. You know, first thing in the morning before we get going… And we didn’t expect it to be this good.” 

Duk-ki Yu of Major. Photo by Chris Jones.

“Being connected is so important,” Duk-ki Yu said. “And the generosity and gracious invitation from Geoff Dawson who owns Clubhouse DC here. He provided the venue. And to hold this many people for coffee, it’s really an ideal spot.”

“Once a month, please come by and drop in,” GMS Board Chair Melanie Hayes wished to tell readers of The Georgetowner. “And, we’ll post some pictures on Instagram so everyone can kind of get a sense of what the event is about.”

Bill Starrels of Bank of America, a former advisory neighborhood commissioner, with the current commissioner for his district, Mimsy Lindner. Photo by Robert Devaney.

Nancy Miyahara, vice president of the Georgetown Business Improvement District, and Bettina Stern, co-owner of Chaia Tacos. Photo by Robert Devaney.

Isseu Ndixye of Hobo and Rae Stone of Bitty & Beau’s Coffee. Photo by Robert Devaney.

Mary Beth Hasty, manager of Build Design Center, Ifat Pridan of LiLi the First boutique and Georgetown BID Economic Development Director Faith Broderick. Photo by Robert Devaney.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *