Housing Complex

Anacostia’s Uniontown Could Reopen as Cherry Hill Bar & Grill by Summer

The former Uniontown Bar and Grill in Anacostia could reopen under new management as early as this summer, a year after it shut down.

New operator Melake Gebre, working with investor Gabriele Tripodo, hopes to open the space at 2200 Martin Luther King Jr Ave. SE by midsummer as a restaurant and sports bar. Gebre, a native of Ethiopia, plans to serve American food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at midrange prices.

It's only slightly hyperbolic to say that the plight of Uniontown has reflected the struggles of Anacostia more broadly. The neighborhood, full of hype and hope, has so far been unable to attract and retain sitdown eateries. But Uniontown, once its big success story, shut down not for lack of demand. Instead, it shuttered months after its owner's conviction for smuggling cocaine, and neighbors have watched uneasily as it's sat vacant for more than half a year, without any word of a reopening until Twitter rumors surfaced last month.

Gebre, who says he was involved with the former Empty Pockets Cafe in Arlington and restaurants in Ethiopia, says he and Tripodo approached previous Uniontown owner Natasha Dasher about buying the restaurant or starting a partnership before her legal troubles began. After the restaurant shut down, they once again got involved. Tripodo, who owns nearby Union Liquors, is traveling in Africa and couldn't be reached for comment.

Gebre hopes to turn the restaurant's upstairs into a music space. The application he and Tripodo filed to the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration on Feb. 6 mentions "recorded music" with "live entertainment periodically."

"Upstairs I’m trying to put some music that would attract 40- and 50-year-old people," Gebre says. "R&B and some jazz. The type of music I like. I understand that type of music more than the go-go music."

The ABRA application lists the venture's name as Union Town Bar & Grill, and Gebre says he'd prefer to keep the restaurant's well-known name. But Gebre's lawyer, David Taylor, says that the prior tenant still has an active liquor license, and ABRA won't allow two licensees with such similar names. Gebre is leaning toward calling the restaurant Cherry Hill Bar & Grill.

Taylor emphasizes that this won't technically be a reopening, but rather an entirely new restaurant with a similar theme. He also notes that it's not a done deal, as the team is still awaiting various approvals from the city.

Gebre says there's "a lot of work to be done" before opening. But any concrete signs that the restaurant is emerging from its long vacancy will be welcome to the neighborhood.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Angelina

    Hey Aaron, your photographer could have taken a better photo...shame on you!!!

  • Cap City Records Panhandler

    Lots of hype & lots of hope and still on the corner folk stand with pockets full of dope, smoke, and coke.

    Despite incessant cheer leading on social media and Ward 8 Summits, etc. by the city private money from outside the neighborhood isn't buying it. Folks with disposable income in the neighborhood have to go outside of the neighborhood to spend it.

    I wish the proprietorship of Uniontown B&G 2.0 or Cherry Hill B&G, as I know this name has absolutely nada to do with the history of the neighborhood, the best of success.

    I was told A. Shallal was opening in Anacostia? Oh, wait, that's that hype and hope.

    God bless the hype & hope until it becomes real.

  • Pingback: Yes, there is a snowstorm coming

  • DC_LovesU

    Cherry Hill does have something to do with the neighborhood. Check the RECORDS, Cap City Records....hahahaha!!!!!

  • Cap City Records Panhandler

    What records? Do tell...

  • Chekesha Rashad

    Cap City Records:

    I can understand why you may know know about the history of the new potential name. It was misquoted by the author of the article. The name should actually read "Cedar Hill". Cedar Hill is what Frederick Douglas called the land that is his home. A quick search of the internet should give you all the information that you need on it.

    Also as a homeowner who intentionally purchased a home in Historic Anacostia almost 4 years ago, I take offense to your comments about smoke, dope and coke. If you ever journeyed to this neighborhood when UTBG was open, you would know that is not the type of activity that occured here. And to be more specific, the charges against the the former owner are not in DC. In fact they were in Texas and Maryland where drugs and money were found. Sometimes, you should take an extra step and investigate before making a judgement ..but wait ...then you would be just like others who have not come on this side of the city in the last several years if not every. By the tone of your comments, I have gathered that you don't live over here.

    In addition to the hope and what you call "hype" there are a few facts that if you were over on this side you would know to be true as to the future of the neighborhood:

    1. New bridge expansions connecting to Anacostia to the "mainland": Bridges are billion dollar projects. Why would so much money be spent to connect with a neighborhood that there are no future plans for?

    2. Proximity to SW Waterfront and Navy Yard projects: Part of the new bridge spans connect to these new projects.

    3. Availability of space/land: the fact is that this side of the city is one of the last sections of the city that has ample available space for development at low rates.

    4. History: Look at the history of neighborhoods of Dupont Circle, Brookland, H Street, and U street. Those areas where not seen as desirable places to live initially but it took vision from those who believed in the neighborhoods to make it happen.

    5. Recent real estate sales: Take a look at the increase in sales over the past year and see what realtors have to say. Sales prices have increased 7% since last year. Look at other neighborhoods in the city to compare that type of increase.

    If you are a non-resident of this area, I am glad because it's people like you who make their judgements from afar without even taking to the time to see it first hand for themselves. I am just going to sit back and continue to watch my house appreciate in value while you stay on your "side" of the city.

  • DC_LovesU

    I was joking, Cap City. There are no such records. Maybe he should call it Cedar Hill, rather than Cherry Hill...

  • Cap City Records Panhandler

    @DC_LovesU

    I took you for your word. There are some cherry trees at that little park at Good Hope Rd. & Minnesota Ave but I had never heard of "Cherry Hill" before.

    Yeah, man, I know Cedar Hill. If people don't know the home of the "Sage" they need to go back to the basics.

    Cedar Hill is better than "Cherry Hill." Either is better than Asylum Hill, which is what the ascension up to St. Es used to be called.

    While Uniontown B&G is/was what it is/was if they go for a new name (which it seems like folk are encouraging) I think there could be something historic or relevant to the neighborhood and/or city history.

    Like the Boundary Stones spot across the river, and some other places. But it's their restaurant and it's their name. As long as it opens the name is secondary.

  • Cap City Records Panhandler

    @Chekesha Rashad... Yawn, yawn, yawn, yawn.

    Nice "hype" talking points.

    By the tone of your comments I can tell you are a nice person but you stay in your house and don't even know your own adopted neighborhood. Maybe if you actually ventured outside you would know the real Anacostia of 16th & W, MLK & Talbert, Good Hope & 16th, etc. where the trap boys are deep 24/7/265.

    While a house here & there in the HD has been rehabbed, you ever walked around Cedar Hill? It is folks like you who seem comfortable with 19th century homes crumbling because you'd rather spew these talking points of make believe utopia.

    You weren't around for the National Guard in the neighborhood so I understand you really have no idea what you are talking about. Your tone is symptomatic of people who get defensive at the truth because you don't want to deal with reality.

    Even more yawns for you trying to tell me what went down at Uniontown B&G.

    Folks like you are a disgrace to Frederick Douglass and his legacy. When Douglass lived in the neighborhood he has active in its improvement.

    You and your ilk make judgments and don't even know your own 'hood. It's so pathetic it hurts.

  • Cap City Records Panhandler

    Correction... they are out there with dope, smoke, and coke at 16 & W 24-7-365

  • ming carter

    As a former employee of Utbg i must say its was a joyful,fun, and relaxed place. We had our ups and downs but Tasha helped people to the fullest. It was no drugs or etc. at utbg . Im glad its reopenig people always trying to knock a good thing.

...