A former bar on Potomac Avenue in Southeast D.C. will soon be expanded into Sandlot Southeast, a venue for Black-owned restaurants to showcase their food rent-free in partnership with a social equity program from Uber Eats.
The outdoor bar will provide Black-owned restaurants a space to share their plates in an area where they’re not well represented.
“Don’t bring your full 20-item menu. Pick your strongest two or three items (and) let’s prepare it here,” said Ian Callender, the co-owner of Sandlot Southeast.
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The venue will have 5,000 square feet of dining and entertainment space, including both indoor and outdoor seating, at the Maren D.C. building at the foot of the Frederick Douglas Bridge.
If the restaurants’ recipes need grilling or deep frying, there’s an outdoor space for that as well.
“So now we’re cycling multiple Black-owned restaurants that don’t exist in this neighborhood, especially south of the freeway,” Callender said.
D.C.’s nightlife mayor, local chefs and business representatives will choose which restaurants will join the venue for rotating four-day stints.
Chosen restaurants will get to work and showcase their menus in the restaurant in rotating shifts, Thursday through Sunday, with a required community service day on Mondays.
The restaurants get to gain exposure in the area and keep their revenue. Three hundred restaurants have already applied, and from as far as Richmond and New York.
“We’re not driven by revenue,” said co-owner Rico Hallums. “We’re driven by community and sustainability. As long as our business model is able to sustain, we’ve done a good job.”