September 6: Smokemade Meats & Eats at Hellbender Labor Day Weekend

Barbecue caterer Smokemade Meats & Eats will be popping up at Hellbender this Sunday, September 6 from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm. You can also place pre-orders at Hellbender is located at 5788 2nd Street NE.

Hellbender has emerged as a nice avenue to getting different food options in the neighborhood. In a typical week, one can order local oysters from Sapidus Farms for pickup from Hellbender on Thursdays (order by Tuesday night). Timber Pizza usually makes an appearance one or two days during the weekend as it will do this Friday and Saturday. And usually Dolci Gelato pops up one or two days during the weekend as well. Occasionally, different food trucks will add a little variety to the usual weekly offerings.

If you are looking for something new to try for the Labor Day weekend, check out the offerings at Hellbender, and be sure to follow them on facebook to see food and beverage options each week.

Ramdass Pharmacy featured in DCist

As part of its “Still at Workers” series, DCist has a great profile of Ramdass Pharmacy, our local neighborhood pharmacy. Owner Anthony Ramdass discusses what it is like serving the community and patients as well as the challenges facing the pharmacy as we deal with the COVID-19 crisis. Located in the Modern at Art Place on Ingraham Street NE, the pharmacy fills an important role during this public health delivery, offering delivery of prescriptions. Residents can also stop in to pick up prescriptions as well. Check it out.

Support The Parks Main Street Businesses

The Parks Main Street (TPMS) was formed to help support businesses in Riggs Park and Manor Park. It took a lot of time and effort to get the Main Street up and running last year. It is now run by enthusiastic executive director Edwin Washington with the help of an all-volunteer board. Please consider supporting The Parks Main Street for Giving Tuesday to make sure the organization can continue to support and attract thriving local businesses to our neighborhood. You can easily do so online at See message from TPMS below.

A neighborhood is the people who live, work, learn and play there. It is cultural institutions; And small and large businesses serving neighborhood people through good and bad times.

The COVID-19 pandemic is as bad as it gets.

Help preserve small businesses in The Parks Main Street (TPMS) business districts in Riggs Park and Manor Park by keeping them operating today, so they can be there for us tomorrow.

Our goal is to raise $15,000 to supplement the funding TPMS receives from the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) to help struggling businesses with rent and payroll shortages, marketing outreach and employee and customer safety practices during COVID-19.

Can you donate $5? $10? $20? Any amount will help sustain these small businesses Now. Shop Small and Support Small with a donation on #GivingTuesdayNow. Your tax-deductible support will make a big difference!

Who are The Parks Main Street legacy businesses?

They are small, mostly women and family owned entrepreneurs who have served customers in the DC area for up to 50- years. They are owners of diverse ages, multicultural ethnic groups and professional backgrounds such as military service, higher education, health care, national retail and food service, and home design and improvement, to name a few industries.

In Manor Park maybe you’ve held a birthday or anniversary party at The VIP Room. Got your child’s first haircut at Manor Park Barber Shop. Purchased a hat at Bene Millinery & Bridal Shop still run by its 100-year old founder, Vanilla Beane, or eaten at Peaches’ Kitchen or Senbeb Café & Natural Foods.

In Riggs Park you may have experienced a wine tasting at Riggs Liquors. Or a free art exhibition and workshop at Culture Coffee Too. Or had the pharmacist-owner of Ramdass Pharmacy come to your home to administer vaccinations to a senior loved one during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These are the business legacies The Parks Main Street is working to preserve. Please help us by frequenting these businesses as often as you can and giving what you can. And ask your friends, family members, co-workers, and those in your professional and social circles to Shop Small and Support Small with a donation on #GivingTuesdayNow. Your tax-deductible support will make a big difference!

The Parks Main Street Small Business Grant Recipients

The Parks Main Street awarded $34,000 in funding to support small businesses in Riggs Park and Manor Park. The funding is especially useful during the public health emergency. See message from The Parks Main Street below.

The Parks Main Street (TPMS) Congratulates FY2020 TPMS Small Business Grant Recipients!

The grants provide relief for rent, payroll, utilities and insurance during this COVID-19 pandemic.

The small businesses grant recipients proudly serve you in Riggs Park and Manor Park:

The Davis Center

Manor Park Barber Shop

Ramdass Pharmacy

DeColores Learning Center

Senbeb Café & Natural Foods                          

Troka Insurance

Peaches Kitchen and Catering

Integrative Body Work & Wellness

Please click the link below for TPMS Small Business Grant Recipients “Thank You” Video.

This video was coordinated by the TPMS Promotions Committee with filming by TPMS Board Member and Promotions Committee co-chair Joann Stevens and committee member Roger Glass.
Production and graphics by Kelcie Glass through Arts for Our Children, Inc. 

For the latest information on the District Government’s response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), please visit

Edwin D. Washington | Executive Director
The Parks Main Street
A Program of the Center for Nonprofit Advancement
Direct (202) 774-5542
As a Main Street America™ Accredited program, The Parks Main Street is a recognized leading program among the national network of more than 1,200 neighborhoods and communities who share both a commitment to creating high-quality places and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development.

April 23 & 24: Grab & Go Meals at Culture Coffee Too

Message from The Parks Main Street


Come join Culture Coffee Too located at 300 Riggs Road NE for a “Grab & Go” promotion on Thursday April 23 and Friday April 24, 2020 from 12:00 noon to 6:00 pm.

Prepackaged Afro-Fusion meals will be available from District Chop Bar. Be sure to text COFFEE to (202) 410-5669 to join the VIP Loyalty Program

Wear your mask and social distance. 

Next Stop Neighbors – Supporting our Small Businesses

By David Kosub (Contributor)

As we continue to address the toll the COVID-19 public health emergency has on our day-to-day lives, our community small businesses are also doing their part. In this installment of Next Stop Neighbors, Mr. Edwin Washington, Executive Director of The Parks Main Street (TPMS), joins us to tell their stories. For disclosure, I serve on the Board of Directors for TPMS. We will hear which small businesses are still open, what TPMS is doing to support them during this time, and how we as a community can help. We hope you find this information helpful and encourage you to share this with others….from an appropriate social distance of course.

Click here to listen to the conversation (running time: 24 minutes)

The following community small businesses are open and available for delivery or pickup. Please call to verify store hours.

Ramdass Pharmacy
475 Ingraham Street NE
(202) 526-2200

Culture Coffee Too (Coffee, smoothies, sandwiches)
300 Riggs Road NE
(202) 507-8349

Hunan Shrimp Boat (Chinese cuisine)
5585 South Dakota Avenue NE
(202) 635-6666

Background on Next Stop Neighbors:

Welcome to Next Stop Neighbors where we get an opportunity to hear the voices behind the faces and places in Lamond-Riggs and the surrounding communities. Through this podcast series, you will meet some friendly neighbors and hear their perspectives on the community through civil, casual conversations. From the small business owner who just opened up, to the non-profit organization trying to make a difference, to the community leader describing their vision for the neighborhood, and the resident around the corner who has lived here for 50 years, we all have a story to tell. We welcome recommendations and, better yet, your own 10-minute interviews too!

Can’t get enough Next Stop Neighbors? Check out these past conversations for more:

Dr. Kenny Gibbs (January 2020)
Jamal Gray with Meow Wolf (November 2019)
Robert “The Library Guy” Oliver (October 2019)
Soon-to-Be Moms and Soon-to-Be Dads (September 2019)
Explore! Children’s Museum (August 2019)
Troka Insurance (July 2019)
Ms. V and Culture Coffee Too (July 2019)
Bertie Backus Urban Food Hub (June 2019)
LRCA Forward Team (April 2019)
Ramdass Pharmacy (March 2019)

The 2020 DC Small Business Awards – Vote Riggs Liquor

By Edwin Washington*

The Parks Main Street (TPMS) is proud to share that your very own local small business Riggs Liquor is a nominee for the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) Small Business Retailer of The Year!

Riggs Liquor, located at 5581 South Dakota Avenue NE (across from Walmart), has been serving Riggs Park and the surrounding communities since 2002.

Owner John Yoo is excited to serve you and our community with a fine selection of quality beers, wines and spirits.

John offers a variety of wine, beer and spirit tastings. John has consistently been a friend to our community by:

  • Providing turkeys and other food fixings for the 2019 Homeless Thanksgiving Dinner held by Culture Coffee Too
  • Being supportive of local artists through the Riggs Park Art Crawl
  • Working side-by-side with DSLBD and TPMS to recognize the historic Riggs Park community with the mural proudly proclaiming “We Are RIGGS PARK”

Take a moment to vote for Riggs Liquor. Click the VOTE NOW link.  Tell your family, neighbors and friends to vote. Last day to vote is Friday March 6, 2020.

*Edwin Washington is the executive director of The Parks Main Street, a program of the Center for Nonprofit Advancement.

Councilmember McDuffie Budget Priorities: Trail at Fort Circle Park

Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie submitted a letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser with his Ward 5 budget priorities. The letter incorporates feedback from residents in response to his budget engagement survey. I hope you had a chance to fill it out.

There are generally applicable items that would benefit large areas of the ward, such as around housing, public safety, and support for small businesses. One item in the letter specific to the neighborhood is a request for funding to assess the environmental impact of a paved trail around Fort Circle Park (formally known as the Civil War Defenses of Washington) at South Dakota Avenue and Galloway Street NE.

Specifically the letter states:

Upgrades to playgrounds and trails

Based on feedback from residents, we can accomplish this through additional funds to activate a historic trail for the Trinidad community, and for an environmental impact assessment to examine the possibility of a paved park around Fort Circle Park at South Dakota Ave & Galloway Street, NE, and invest funds for upgrades to play surfaces for all Ward 5 playgrounds. I am also requesting funds to preserve green space and pocket parks in neighborhoods with limited green space such as the Brookland Green.

A trail and play areas around the perimeter of the park is an item in the neighborhood’s area development plan, which was approved by the DC Council in March 2009. In 2016, a nine-year-old Riggs Park resident named Lucas collected signatures for a petition to National Park Service (NPS) and testified at NPS townhalls in support of a playground and trail at Fort Circle Park. Blog contributor David Kosub has been writing about efforts to consolidate community action in support of amenities at the park. The Lamond-Riggs Citizens Association has a community benefits agreement with developer EYA to assist with visioning for activation of Fort Circle Park (as well as the District-owned green space in front of Food & Friends). So there is widespread support for a trail at the park, at a bare minimum. I think a two-phase approach might make sense: (1) get a trail; (2) get other stuff. We know anything involving NPS takes time. Funding for an environmental impact assessment would be a really good start and it is something we as a community should actively support.

Preliminary Chick-fil-A Traffic Analysis

Chick-fil-A (CFA) presented its preliminary traffic analysis at ANC 4B’s public meeting on February 24, 2020. You can find the presentation here and the draft comprehensive transportation review (CTR) here.

As previously reported, Chick-fil-A plans to demolish the existing Taco Bell/KFC building located at 220 Riggs Road NE and the vacant Dakota Liquor building next door and build a new building. Because this will be a new build, they must comply with the District’s Green Area Ratio regulation. Accordingly, they plan to have bioretention on site.

They scrapped their plan to have only drive-thru at the location. The new plan is for a 3,900 square foot building with 42 interior seats and 20 exterior seats. There will be 9 vehicle parking spaces and 6 bicycle spaces. There will be a dual drive-thru lane for ordering. They anticipate having space for 10 vehicles to queue in the drive-thru order lanes (5 vehicles per lane), space for 9 vehicles to queue for the payment and pickup window, and space for approximately 6 vehicles to circulate and queue on site if the drive-thru lanes are full. Commercial deliveries will be made outside of business hours.

The project is a matter-of-right project, but they will have to go through DDOT’s public space permit process because they plan to eliminate two curb cuts–the curb cut closest to the 3rd Street/Riggs Road intersection and one of the two curb cuts by Dakota Liquor. That will leave one curb cut on Riggs Road, which they will realign, and one curb cut on 3rd Street.

Proposed site plan

Site access and circulation

Turning to the details of the CTR, they anticipate that most drivers will approach the site from either South Dakota Avenue or Riggs Road. The biggest issue I see in the CTR is that CFA and DDOT know that for inbound trips, drivers will be making U-turns all over the place and apparently DDOT is fine with that.

Inbound trips

Drivers approaching from South Dakota Avenue will either decide to turn left on Riggs to enter the access point there or continue straight onto 3rd Street only to have to make a U-turn because of the median on 3rd Street to access the site from 3rd Street. DDOT does not want to remove the median. Drivers traveling eastbound on Riggs will either make a U-turn to access the site off Riggs or turn left onto 3rd Street to then have to make a U-turn to access the site from 3rd Street. Drivers traveling west on Riggs would be able to access the site from Riggs without making a U-turn. CFA stated DDOT anticipates only 5% of vehicles will approach the site from the 3rd Street/2nd Street NE intersection, which would require no U-turns at all.

The CTR states the site will be able to accommodate all queueing on the site without spillover onto public streets. In the case that there is spillover, they plan to have additional staff to assist with order taking, delivering orders, and directing vehicles to move to the overflow queue lane.

Queue operations

Overflow queue operations

They used data from a CFA location in Olney to support the assumptions in the traffic analysis. The CTR identified afternoon peak and Saturday peak as two periods in which vehicular travel around the site at the South Dakota Avenue/Riggs Road intersection could be impacted. The CTR states adjustment to traffic signal timing should mitigate the issue a bit. They are aware that other projects will come online in the next couple of years that will affect travel around the site, including the second phase of Art Place at Fort Totten and EYA’s Riggs Park Place townhome project. Also, the owner of the properties at 5642-5650 3rd Street NE has applied for a map amendment, so those properties will be redeveloped as well (though the owner has previously stated he has not identified an intended use yet). Once built out, more signal timing changes may be necessary.

I asked about the 3rd Street/2nd Street intersection because I did not see any reference to it in the presentation. Because of the assumption that only 5% of vehicles will approach the site from that intersection, I guess DDOT will not worry about it even though something clearly needs to be done about that intersection. Plenty of motorists use 3rd Street to avoid Riggs and so while they might not be going to CFA, there will be plenty of action happening between vehicles exiting the Walmart parking lot, vehicles making a U-turn on 3rd Street to enter the CFA, and vehicles traveling along 3rd to other destinations.

Interestingly, in the CTR, CFA identified three intersections that have higher than expected crash rates and anyone who lives in the neighborhood would not be surprised by the results: (1) South Dakota Avenue & Riggs Road/3rd Street; (2) Riggs Road and 1st Place NE; and (3) 3rd Street/2nd Street NE.

Chick-fil-A’s recommendations

CFA identified several recommended safety improvements primarily to address the South Dakota Avenue/Riggs Road intersection. DDOT does not have to undertake these improvements, but doing so would help to improve travel around the site. They include restriping, removal of two parking spaces next to the Walmart driveway on 3rd Street to improve sightlines, enforcement of no parking zones near intersection, better signage, and adjustments to signal timing.

Potential safety improvements

The South Dakota Avenue/Riggs Road intersection was reconfigured in 2011 to remove the slip lanes. Even reconfigured, it is poorly designed and really does need to be fixed. The one good thing that may come out of the CFA project is that residents have previously requested a traffic study of the corridor (which has not been done). Many of CFA’s recommended safety improvements are things that residents have requested for a long time so now that a business is recommending these safety improvements, maybe they will get done. Notably the CTR identifies that existing pedestrian facilities around the site are sorely lacking, again something for which residents have previously requested action. Perhaps those missing and deficient sidewalks and missing crosswalks will be addressed.

Existing pedestrian facilities around site

After looking at the traffic analysis, I am a bit skeptical about how all of this will work. Of course my big wish to get rid of the drive-thru entirely is likely not an option. This project is still about a year out so there is still time for CFA to make refinements. The project is located in ANC 4B, so if you have any thoughts, please share them with ANC Commissioner Alison Brooks (4B08) at

Testimony to Expand the Great Streets Program to Include Riggs Park

By David Kosub (Contributor)

At the November 2019 Lamond-Riggs Citizens Asociation meeting, I asked Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie’s staff if the boundaries of the District’s Great Streets program can be expanded so that our small and local businesses in Riggs Park could apply for the resources. After a few follow-up discussions with his staff, they invited me to provide testimony at an upcoming oversight hearing on the topic. Below is what I submitted in writing in my capacity as a resident of Riggs Park.

From: David Kosub
Resident, Riggs Park, Ward 5

To: D. Justin Roberts
Committee Director
Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie, Ward 5

Dear Mr. Roberts,

Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to share written testimony for consideration at the Committee on Business and Economic Development performance oversight hearing of Destination DC and Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), scheduled for February 24, 2020.

I am submitting this testimony in my capacity as a resident of Riggs Park and as a passionate advocate for our small and local businesses. I believe they all, and especially the people behind the storefronts, deserve the same support as others receive from the district whenever and wherever possible.

DMPED’s Great Streets program represents one such opportunity for equity. This program, as the website explains, is the “District’s commercial revitalization initiative designed to support existing small businesses, attract new businesses, increase the District’s tax base, create new job opportunities for District Residents, and transform emerging corridors into thriving and inviting neighborhood centers.”

Unfortunately, as we are located in upper northeast Washington D.C., our neighborhood businesses currently fall outside the existing program boundaries and are ineligible to apply for Great Streets resources (see the map generated from the Great Streets Look-up page). For reference, Riggs Park businesses are principally located along:

  • Riggs Road NE from the CSX/metro tracks to Chillum Place NE
  •  South Dakota Avenue NE from Riggs Road NE to Galloway Street NE
  • 3rd St NE/2nd Street NE, from Riggs Road NE to New Hampshire Avenue NE, along the CSX/metro tracks 

 “The character of the area,” as described in the 2009 Area Development plan, is “primarily residential, anchored by the Fort Totten Metro and supported by small scale commercial and retail shops.” I appreciate the role our small and local businesses have played in supporting our community and want to return the favor. Let me take a few moments to introduce some of them to you.

The Phillips family started Troka Insurance in 2007, providing various insurance products and services, in both English and Spanish, and training for neighbors to become future agents. When not organizing the next Riggs Park Art Crawl or asking how my daughter is doing, Ms. V serves up a tasty black bean burger and peanut butter/banana smoothie at Culture Coffee Too. Hellbender Brewery is our neighborhood watering hole. Our pharmacist, Dr. Ramdass, will bring prescriptions right to a senior’s door. Shining stars makes going to the dentist for our kids welcoming and pleasant. Riggs Wine and Liquors proudly show their neighborhood pride with a beautiful mural on the side of their building. The CHILD Center, a legacy business here for nearly two decades, received a city-wide Robust Retail grant in 2019. And, I could go on and on with these stories, especially as new businesses like Meow Wolf open in coming years and are excited to be woven into the fabric of the community.

These businesses help keep Riggs Park thriving and economically viable. They need our support in return. Allowing them the opportunity to apply for Great Streets funding could lower the hurdle faced when trying to expand their business, create jobs, experiment with new services, redesign their facades, or enhance their online presence. After all, when their business succeeds, Riggs Park succeeds.

Furthermore, in a 2019 Retail Market analysis, The Parks Main Street (TPMS) was encouraged to help attract potential small and local businesses to help enliven the neighborhood. By having the District’s Great Streets corridor boundaries expanded, I feel this strengthens TPMS’ ability to demonstrate growth potential in retail viability in Riggs Park, while also aiding “existing businesses accommodate rapid change in the area.” For disclosure, I serve as a community member on the Board of Directors for TPMS. However, the views represented in this testimony, as noted earlier, reflect my own as a Riggs Park resident.

Finally, the Upper Northeast element of the District’s Comprehensive Plan also recognized the value of expanding the Great Streets program to benefit business corridors currently residing outside the existing boundaries. As noted in action UNE-1.2.C, it recommends that businesses along Rhode Island Ave NE be considered for Great Streets funding. I requested the Office of Planning, as part of my family’s comments on the plan submitted in December 2019, to consider Riggs Park businesses within TPMS’ area to be eligible as well to have funding for transportation, streetscape, and façade improvements. ANC 5A heard this recommendation too and agreed to support the idea earlier this month.

I appreciate your time and consideration of this request to expand the Great Streets boundaries, so our businesses have an equal opportunity to apply for these resources.

Thank you,
David Kosub

Prom dress giveaway

Culture Coffee Too & Fearless Thread 2020 Prom Dress Contest

Culture Coffee Too and Fearless Threads are teaming up to give away a few custom made prom dresses to students in need. If you are interested in donating to the effort, visit this link.

For students in need, please visit the online application link. The application is simple: must be a student at a DC high school, have a minimum 2.5 GPA, and submit a 50 word statement about why the student deserves a free prom dress.

New Riggs Park Neighborhood Mural

Artist Jay Hudson brings us another neighborhood mural – this one a “We are Riggs Park” statement on the side of Riggs Wine & Liquor. Funding for the mural was provided by The Parks Main Street, District Department of Small and Local Business Development, and Riggs Wine & Liquor owner John Yoo. Next up is restoration of the sign.

“We are Riggs Park” mural by Jay Hudson. Photo credit: Jay Hudson

Jay is well-known around the neighborhood. He installed a mural on the other side of the liquor store during the inaugural 2018 Riggs Park Art Crawl.

Mural at Riggs Wine & Liquor by Jay Hudson. Photo credit: Jay Hudson

He brought us this cool mural on the side of Hellbender Brewing Company’s building (though unfortunately that mural is no longer with us).

Mural at Hellbender by Jay Hudson. Photo credit: Jay Hudson

And he is the creator of the large mural inside of Culture Coffee Too.

Mural at Coffee Culture Too by Jay Hudson

Economic Vitality in The Parks Main Street

By Edwin Washington*

The Parks Main Street board memebers

A version of this post was first published on linkedin on September 25, 2019.

On September 19, about 25 residents, board members, and business owners representing Riggs Park and Manor Park under The Parks Main Street organization met at the Lamond-Riggs Library in Washington, DC to discuss retail findings from the two communities. 

Manor Park

  • Goods and Services such as dry cleaners, fresh convenience stores, and more, and Food and Beverage businesses are moderately viable.
  • Manor Park’s long-standing retailers and history of low vacancy demonstrate that all types of retail can thrive in the neighborhood.
  • With longtime loyal customer bases, between 70% and 80% of Manor Park patrons come from outside the immediate area to shop at these unique longstanding businesses.
  • The area is characterized by mostly neighborhood Goods and Services with only two food and beverage establishments.
  • As the retail environment in the city continues to evolve, the primary task is to keep this neighborhood’s vital retail resources by working with Manor Park businesses to ensure that each thrives in this environment and continues to appeal to a broad geographic base of people, thereby maintaining low vacancy while preserving the character and vibrancy of the nod.

Riggs Park

  • Goods and Services businesses are extremely viable, and Food and Beverage businesses are moderately viable.
  • Retail in Riggs Park has rapidly expanded over the past 10 years, with new development bringing in 220,000 square feet of retail space. The area now features a mix of auto-oriented retail that preexisted 2010 and newer retail spaces in mixed-use projects.
  • Riggs Park benefits from its location along two highly trafficked corridors with nearly 25% of all customers resulting from drive-by traffic.
  • The retail offerings are growing and are expected to continue to grow as several major developments come online.
  • The addition of cultural attractions such as Meow Wolf and Explore! Children’s Museum also will create further regional draw, boost daytime population and increase pedestrian traffic.
  • As the spaces available for retail continue to grow and additional multifamily projects are in development, the primary task is to keep the market in balance by aggressively combatting vacancy and ensuring that older, more established businesses continue to thrive as newer retail and cultural offerings come online.

Joe Carrol, Economic Development Committee chair for TPMS, led presentation and follow-up discussion about the Riggs Park and Manor Park Retail Market Analysis and Enhancement Strategy conducted by John Stover & Associates earlier this year. Follow-up questions and discussion focused on issues such as neighborhood security, rising rents affecting small businesses, foot and motor traffic patterns, and attracting consumers via enhanced streetscapes and placemaking promotions.

*Edwin Washington is the executive director of The Parks Main Street.

September 19: Retail Analysis Community Meeting

Editor Note: This event is on Thursday, September 19. They are still accepting RSVPs.

Riggs Park and Manor Park Retail Market Analysis
Presented by The Parks Main Street

September 19, 2019
6:30 PM
Lamond-Riggs Library
5401 South Dakota Avenue NE

There is still time to RSVP to Edwin Washington, Executive Director, The Parks Main Street, at or (202) 774-5542

Events week of August 19, 2019: Main Street, Festivals, Farmstand, & Ribbon Cuttings

August 21, 2019

The Parks Main Street Community Meeting
6:30 pm
Riggs-LaSalle Recreation Center
501 Riggs Road NE
Hear survey results & ways the Main Street will utilize community input to help improve the Riggs Park commercial corridor.
Follow The Parks Main Street: 
Facebook (@TheParksMainStreet)
Twitter (@TheParksMainSt)
Instagram (@TheParksMainStreet)

ANC 5A Special Public Meeting
6:45 pm
UDC-CC Backus
5171 South Dakota Avenue NE
Revised Agenda: (1) Wesley Housing Develpment; (2) Fort Totten Civic Association. Note it appears from the revised agenda that Rocketship will not attend this special meeting as they are awaiting traffic study results, but the agenda may change again.

August 23, 2019

Fridays at Fort Totten Concert Series: Deacon Izzy & the Congregation Band
6:00 pm-8:00 pm
South Dakota Avenue & Galloway Street NE
Bring a lawn chair for seating. Sponsored by On Tap Magazine and The Modern at Art Place

August 24, 2019

Bertie Backus Farmstand
10:00 am-2:00 pm
UDC-CC Backus
5171 South Dakota Avenue NE

Explore! Children’s Museum August Festival
10:00 am-1:30 pm
The Modern at Art Place
400 Galloway Street NE
Free RSVP on eventbrite
Performance Schedule:
10:30-11:00 am: Story Time with Lamond-Riggs Children’s Librarian
11:15-12:00 pm: A Mad Science of DC Show: Up, Up and Away!
12:30-1:15 pm: District Dance Arts
From 10:00am-1:30pm:
Cowboy Barry’s Farm Petting Zoo
Face Painting by Fairy Jennabelle
Makerspace with District Dance Arts
Double Dutch from DC Retro Jumpers
Color with Luna from Adventures with Luna and Friends
The Uncle Devin Show’s Percussion Playground

Coolidge High School Renovation & Ida B. Wells Middle School Ribbon Cutting with Mayor Bowser
11:30 am
6315 5th Street NW
Free cookout & games for all ages

The Parks Main Street Awards Nearly $30,000 in Grants to Three Local, Small businesses in Riggs Park and Manor Park

By David Kosub & Edwin Washington*

The Parks Main Street recently awarded nearly $30,000 in grants to three small businesses aimed at improving their operations. Representing a combined legacy of more than a century in business, the recipients are:

Troka Insurance Inc.212 Riggs Road NERiggs Park$9,278
The V.I.P. Room6201 3rd Street NWManor Park$10,000
Davis Center6218 3rd Street NWManor Park$10,000

The Parks Main Street Executive Director, Edwin Washington, led a rigorous process to encourage small businesses to apply for this first time funding opportunity—a maximum of $10,000 per award. Eligible applicants were required to be a store-front business located within the boundaries of Riggs Park and Manor Park as well as have a valid business license and “Clean Hands” with the District’s Office of Tax & Revenue.   

Each applicant’s proposal included an itemized budget, projected timeline, and detailed description including how the funds would be used to improve business operations. The Parks Main Street board of directors, led by the Economic Vitality committee, assessed the merits of each application and selected the awardees. Awards were made on August 8, 2019. Projects are expected to be completed by September 30, 2019, the close of the District’s fiscal year. 

This funding opportunity was separate from the District’s Robust Retail grants program, in which three different Main Street businesses received awards.

“Business preservation and revitalization are our sweet spots,” said Mr. Washington. “Part of our mission is to provide much needed technical assistance and funding to support legacy businesses for whom $10,000 is a major windfall.” Below are brief descriptions on how each business will use their award.

In Manor Park, the V.I.P. Room has been a beloved venue to celebrate community milestones, host business meetings, and social events going on four decades, including the Lamond-Riggs Citizens Association 70th Anniversary celebration. The V.I.P. Room will use their grant to enhance the venue with new lighting and a greenscreen photo booth, which aims to expand its reach to new markets.

The Davis Center will celebrate 50 years in business this November. You may have caught a glimpse of some of their dancers performing outside Culture Coffee Too during the 2nd Annual Riggs Park Art Crawl co-sponsored by The Parks Main Street. The grant will support renovation and expansion of the studio and be used to hire a marketing consultant to expand community outreach  with a particular focus on advertising new dance and art appreciation programs.

As discussed in a recent podcast with co-owner Humberto Phillips, Troka Insurance has been a part of the Riggs Park community for 12 years, providing innovative insurance solutions and education. Their grant award will help them recruit and train agents, conduct marketing campaigns, purchase necessary materials for trainees, and improve their training center. 

Reminder: Join Mr. Washington and The Parks Main Street on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 at 6:30pm at Riggs-LaSalle Recreation Center  to hear results of a community survey conducted to obtain perceptions of and ways to improve the Riggs Park commercial corridor.

*David Kosub is the vice-chair of the Board of Directors for The Parks Main Street. To learn about sponsorship and engagement opportunities, contact Edwin Washington at (202) 774-5542 or

August 21: Main Street Survey Results Meeting

The Parks Main Street Community Meeting
August 21, 2019
6:30 pm-7:30 pm
Riggs-LaSalle Recreation Center
501 Riggs Road NE

The Parks Main Street in conjunction with the National Main Street UrbanMain Program and the DC Main Streets program will present results of its community survey about perceptions of and ways to improve the Riggs Park commercial corridor. This is an opportunity to help clarify a vision for the corridor and find out ways to work on projects related to the corridor. Survey results will be available to the public so that anyone who is unable to attend this meeting can see them.

Follow The Parks Main Street to stay abreast of opportunities for input and participation:
Facebook (@TheParksMainStreet)
Twitter (@TheParksMainSt)
Instagram (@TheParksMainStreet)

Riggs Park Commercial Corridor Community Survey

DC Main Streets in partnership with the National Main Street Center’s UrbanMain Program is conducting a short survey to gather the following information from residents about the Riggs Park commercial corridor:

  • What comes to mind when thinking about the neighborhood
  • Riggs Park businesses residents support
  • Shopping preferences
  • Possible issues confronting the commercial corridor

Please complete the survey by August 11, 2019.

This is a real opportunity to provide thoughtful, meaningful feedback to The Parks Main Street, which will ultimately be responsible for implementing a work plan to enhance the commercial corridor, so take advantage! Please share the survey link with neighbors and remember to complete it by August 11.

If you have questions about the survey, please contact Edwin Washington, the executive director of The Parks Main Street, at (202) 774-5542 or

The Parks Main Street Helped Three Local Small Businesses Receive a Total of $50,000 in District Grants to Improve Operations

By David Kosub*

Next time you have some yummy Caribbean food at Peaches Kitchen, a smoothie at Culture Coffee Too, or pick up your kids at The C.H.I.L.D. Center, be sure to give the proprietors a hearty congratulations. The Parks Main Street, the newest member of the District’s Main Street program, helped three Riggs Park and Manor Park small businesses earn a total of $50,000 from the District’s Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) to support improvements to their operations and better meet changing customer demands.

DSLBD Director Kristi Whitfield recently joined Edwin Washington, Executive Director of The Parks Main Street, to congratulate the three awardees:

Peaches Kitchen &
6214 3rd
Street NW
Manor Park$20,000 – Robust
Retail Main Street
Culture Coffee Too300 Riggs
Road NE
Riggs Park$20,000 – Robust
Retail Main Street
The C.H.I.L.D. Center202 Riggs
Road NE
Riggs Park$10,000 – Robust
Retail Citywide

Mr. Washington worked diligently in support of the businesses, hosting grant-writing sessions for small business owners to help them navigate the application process for two related District Robust Retail grant funding opportunities.

Six of The Parks Main Street businesses developed Robust Retail Grant proposals that included detailed scopes of work, implementation plans, and timelines complete with measurable milestones. Three of these proposals were awarded.

“We are delighted that half of the businesses that participated in the competitions were awarded,” said  Mr. Washington. “This speaks volumes of their commitment to engaging in The Parks Main Street revitalization process. Their success advances our mission to preserve and enhance existing historic business districts while also attracting new businesses to serve and invigorate these communities.”

Rhonda Henderson, Chair of the Parks Main Street Board of Directors, said the collaboration represents a welcome partnership between the District government and citizen leaders. “These grants and The Parks Main Street initiative are a win-win for all, for city government, District residents, and our neighborhood businesses.”

With the resources now in hand, the awardees plan to make noticeable improvements to their businesses.  

For example, Peaches Watson, a Jamaican immigrant who founded Peaches Kitchen and Catering in 2007, wants to make things better for customers. As noted in their application, Peaches will use the funds to restructure their kitchen and hot bar, install innovative technologies for food warming and digital menu presentation, enhance storage, and upgrade their point-of-sale  system. The resources will also allow staff to improve efficiency in accounting, business management, food prep, and service. “It’s a blessing,” she said of the grant check that Mr. Washington and Glen O’Gilvie, CEO of the Center for Nonprofit Advancement, delivered directly to her.

Peaches Kitchen receives $20,000 from the District Department of Small & Local Business Development (DSLBD). Back row (l) to (r): Glen O’Gilvie, CEO, Center for Nonprofit Advancement; Jennifer Prats, DSLBD DC Main Streets Grant Manager; Edwin Washington, Executive Director, The Parks Main Street; Front row (l) to (r): Paulette Medley, Personnel Manager, Peaches Kitchen & Catering; Kristi Whitfield, Director, DSLBD; Peaches Watson, owner of Peaches Kitchen & Catering; Cristina Amoruso, DSLBD DC Main Streets Coordinator

Over in Riggs Park, Culture Coffee Too used some of their award funds to support the 2nd Annual Riggs Park Art Crawl, including paying for the murals, paint, artist time, and permits. The remainder of the funds went towards purchasing outdoor seating. Owner Veronica “Ms. V” Cooper hopes this will lead to more customers visiting the coffee shop and identify the neighborhood as a new arts destination for the city. Hear more about Ms. V and the coffee shop on this podcast here.

Culture Coffee Too receives $20,000 from the District Department of Small & Local Business Development (DSLBD). Back row (l) to (r): Glen O’Gilvie, CEO, Center for Nonprofit Advancement; Jennifer Prats, DSLBD DC Main Streets Grant Manager; Edwin Washington, Executive Director, The Parks Main Street; Humberto Phillips, owner of local business Troka Insurance. Front row (l) to (r): Cristina Amoruso, DSLBD DC Main Streets Coordinator; Veronica “Ms. V.” Cooper, owner of Culture Coffee Too; Kristi Whitfield, Director, DSLBD

*David Kosub is the vice-chair of the Board of Directors for The Parks Main Streeet. To learn about sponsorship and engagement opportunities, contact Edwin Washington, the executive director of The Parks Main Street, at (202) 774-5542 or