Loose Lips

Busboys & Poets & Potential Mayoral Candidates

Andy Shallal, the restaurateur behind Busboys & Poets, is thinking about becoming the sixth candidate in the mayor's race—maybe.

"If you don't consider this lightly, then you're stupid," Shallal tells LL.

On Wednesday, Shallal organized a group of supporters to help him consider whether he should run. He got the idea several months ago, when he was struck by how the mayoral candidates were being described along racial lines, he says.

"They're not identified by what they stand for or what they're bringing," Shallal says. "It's the black candidate and the white candidate."

To educate potential voters, LL quizzed him on a couple of city issues. He's for the D.C. United stadium proposal and marijuana decriminalization, but against the living wage bill, which he thinks targets Walmart too closely. And he has a proposal of his own: devoting 1 percent of each city agency's budget to art."If you're doing some road construction, you need art," Shallal says.

Mayor Vince Gray's first term also has Shallal's support. If Gray does try to hold on to his seat and has been cleared of any campaign wrongdoing, Shallal says he'll have to reconsider whether he himself should be in the race—assuming he's in the race.

At this point, Shallal says the only other thing holding him back is going through the "meat grinder" of attacks. "Somebody came to eat and didn't like the food," Shall says. "Somebody didn't get good service."

Update, 6:35: Living wage bill supporters Respect D.C. questioned LL's description of Shallal's position on the Large Retailer Accountability Act on Twitter. Reached this evening, Shallal confirms to LL that he doesn't support the current version of the bill, and wants it to be amended to increase the minimum wage city-wide. "It's a nice attempt, but it needs to be amended," Shallal tells LL.

Shallal also commented on LL's post below.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Andy Shallal

    Let me be clear about my stance on the Large Retailer Accountability Act - I support the bill but feel that the bill doesn't go far enough.

    What I would like to see is a bill that increases the minimum wage for everyone in the city.
    This increase would be indexed to the size of the business - small businesses would increase by $9.50 (from the current $8.25) and larger retailers would increase to $10.50 plus benefits. These increases would go up by $1.00 each year until they reach the $11.50 and $12.50 level respectively. Then they would be tied to cost of living increases on an annual basis.

  • tony

    ... AND LET ME BE CLEAR. Sir, you will never be Mayor of this city.

    Now you have all the time you need to apply your business proposal to your own business.


  • SEis4ME

    I don't know much..well anything about Andy outside of him being a restaurateur.

    What qualifies him to be CEO of the nation's capital? I'm lost.

  • DCresident

    Really! I guess he will not get much support in Ward 7 & Ward 8 since he did not want to develop a resturant for the mostly Black communities across the river. I am not sure how people allow other people to convince them to run for office when they have not been in involved in the communities they will serve (other than 14th & U, K St, Hyattsville & Arlington).

  • SEis4ME

    Uhm...he likely didn't open a restaurant EOTR for many of the same reasons most others dont.

    Seems rather unlikely that decision will b a voting issue

    *scratches head*

  • DCresident

    I would think as Mayor of DC a priority would be on economic development EOTR. How can he as a candidate or Mayor offer any suggestions on redevelopment for EOTR when he chose not open one of his own businesses in the area.

  • SEis4ME

    Whether someone decides to put one of their own businesses in a specific area is a fairly shallow gauge as to that person's fitness for office.

    Do u know the results of his market research? Could Ana support a Busboy?

  • Barry Morase

    I've never heard of this guy. Do he live in D.C.?

  • Barry Morase

    Never mind, Mr. Shallal lives in D.C. and he was born in Iraq. Just curious, what are the people in Iraq's race? Many Middle Easterners are classified as white in the United States and it's on their children birth certificates.

  • Cindy

    I think he would be a great leader!

  • Frank Yurrita

    I do not like or dislike Mayor Gray but one thing is for sure he has not left behind the Latino community. Always concern and making sure we are include.

    The Director of the Mayor;s Office on Latino Affairs and staff are doing an outstanding job. The director is a good manager and she alway listen to your concern and what is best also tackle the issue and the Mayor respect her very much...and I mean it.

    In that restaurant the only Latinos in good positions are the runners and the people who works at the kitchen, no Latino waiters.

    I am Latino obliviously and very proud and sometimes I have my problems with African Americans, because my own bias or theirs but to be fair to them this is their city and they should keep it. My vote will go to another African American if Mr. Gray does not run and that it. And this is a fact.

  • drez

    "If you don't consider this lightly, then you're stupid,"
    I don't understand this statement. The word "lightly" seems out of place. Perhaps he meant "consider this seriously"?

  • Geek247

    Frank Yurrita, you sound like a racist. Sad. You should also learn to type understandable sentences.

    Maybe the reason you haven't been promoted above runner is because you're a racist.

  • drez

    Lots of sock puppets stirring up the mud here.
    It's going to be a long election cycle.

  • Frank Yurrita

    Maybe you are right I should continue learning better English. The only problem with your comment is that I am not a runner (I think what they are call)

    I was the Director of The Mayor's Office on Latino Affairs under Mayor Williams Administration.- If I am a racist I do not know but I would promise you I will look into that one and if I am am I will trait to be a better human being.. Best of lucks buddy.

  • southeast lady

    To barry morase: Better still, he is a citizen of the United States of America!!!!!

  • southeast lady

    To Frank Yurrita: Keep working on your English!

  • southeast lady

    To Frank Yurrita: Mayor Gray can run all he wants. He ain't gonna win this time. He is a crook of the highest order. I voted for him because of his views on Education.
    However, he is another disappointing charlatan/politician for me.

    By the way, DC is no longer "Chocalate City", and therefore is not African Americans town. This city is steadily pricing AA's out of their houses and neighborhoods. I am able to hang on because I own my house.

    The city council is majority white and from upper white northwest; and therefore serve their needs. And the few Blacks left on the city council are either in jail, on their way to jail (and perhaps should be in jail).


    By the way, we have a Black president who has not addressed the needs of Black as a White president would have been criticized for not doing. Whatcha going to do?

    He has taken on the health bill fight, which everyone knows is a monster and has gotten bogged down in that fight and therefore is unable to deal with domestic problems of all races.

    Hillary Clinton as first lady tried to take it on and she got whipped to death.

    Health care in this country used to be "free" when I was a child--it was called the Public Health clinics and hospital. When I was a child I had my eyes checked at one of these clinics and was given free eyeglasses(although they looked like government eyeglasses and my mother made me wear them)

    Also I got free dental cleaning and teeth pulling at these clinics.

    I don't know what happened to them, I believe Ronald (ronnie) Reagan got rid of them.

  • southeast lady


    To Barry Morase: Is he even a citizen of the United States?

  • southeast lady

    To Andy S

    I agree with some things you are saying about the increased minimum wages. It is unrealistic to raise salaries that high in one step. You got something there buddy. It should be done gradually.

    However! you should not waste your time and other people's time by running for mayor. You ain't gonna get it especially based on your one issue concern.

  • southeast lady

    To DC resident. I have lived in DC all of my life--I am 73 as a August 14. I hear you loud and clear. I live in Anacostia. I was here at 11 years old when Anacostia was mainly White-this area was at that time a low, low middle,income White area. However, we had sit down restaurants and other businesses. These businesses were owned by both Blacks and Whites. For Blacks Slades quickly come to mind. For the rest the restaurants were Whites and others.

    Right now we have IHOPS (how many pancakes can you eat?)
    and a few others in the area.

    My point is that other restaurants which at this time are nothing but franchises should be opening up out here. Yes, Anacostia is on the rise, it is the new frontier but we as Blacks should be sure that everybody is sharing in the pie.

  • SEis4ME


    You voted for Gray because of his views on education? Really? And you thought they differed much from Fenty's? I'd be interesting in reading about what you consider "vote changing" distinctions.

    And no offense, you're 73 and was a child during a time when the federal/state blueprint/debts were much smaller. In fact, that might have even been before Medicare.

    And black people are more than welcome to open our own non-Franchise restaurants in Ward 8.

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  • http://citypaper sly

    Southeast lady, some sleep would help you.

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  • http://citypaper sly

    Andy Shallal, what wrong with a black or white candidate?

  • sticktoyourguns

    I think we should have a white Mayor...hell we have had black ones and we still not a state

  • AdamMO

    As he already pollutes public space (e.g., street light polls and mail boxes) with advertisements for his business, he is ready. Yet again, someone who thinks running a business = running a government. How foolish.

  • truth hurts

    Sock puppets, yes indeed. They proliferate on this site.

  • Jeff Canady

    I want Andy to explain to people how he belives it's ok for Black children to be called "Guerilla"!!He tried explaining it to me and nevertheless things didnt go well!!

  • Kevin

    I'd be happy to see Andy Shallal. If his restaurants convey his values -- which I suspect they do -- he is a thoughtful guy with conviction. I always like going to Busboy & Poets on 14th Street. I love that it attracts a really diverse crowd (I'm white, for what it's worth).

  • NE John

    I don't know, sounds kind of Muslim-like. JK

  • StevenT

    I'm thinking Andy was bored one day and decided to drum up a little publicity for himself.

  • Shan

    If you DC residents are really concerned about the health and integrity of your city and the accountability of your government, you should take notice of which candidates are willing to sign the "Leadership Challenge" initiated by Tommy Wells. No money from corporations and associations means that he is only accountable to DC residents. Ask your candidates to sign.

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  • LoveDC

    Andy was that bald headed crook Michael Brown's Campaign Chair! He won't ever get my vote and his food is bland, like his personality!

  • mizwillis

    Re: #32:
    1. "If YOU DC residents"......."YOU should......"
    2. "Ask YOUR candidates to sign"(the Leadership Challenge).

    I know several Wells supporters who are not eligible to vote in DC, but work in DC government. Wouldn't be a bit surprised if Shan, 'the Sham' is one of them.

    Leaves one to wonder why people don't clean up their own state's political problems before trying to dictate what citizens of DC should do.


  • http://www.votejoinrun.us/index.html Carey Campbell

    Andy Shallal, brave, visionary, honorable.

    Statehood Green Party leaders, and other Greens are urging Andy Shallal to run as a Green Party candidate. Andy Shallal has proven his smarts as a businessman, and his courage as a community leader, and community builder across decades. An interesting question is would Andy Shallal consider running for a Ward council seat, or an at large council seat as a Statehood Green Party candidate? Andy Shallal is terrific. Andy Shallal could well be the strongest Statehood Green Party candidate since council woman Hilda Mason (Statehood-Green Party). If Andy Shallal runs as a Statehood-Green Party candidate - either for city council at large, or for a Ward position, or Mayor he will grow the Green Party. Andy Shallal has the inclusive personality, and leadership skills to bring a broad coalition together to make the Statehood-Green Party D.C's second major party.
    Run as a Green Party candidate Andy! Run Andy Run!

  • southeast lady

    To Sly: You peeped my hold card (smile). I am up early on the computer. In retirement, I get up with and the chickens and go to sleep early with the chickens. And nap through the day.

  • southeast lady

    To SEis4ME: Yes, I did vote for Gray based on his views about education. I feel that Fenty's approach to addressing our (DC) education problems was too draconian, too fast, arrogant and did not give the parents of DC enough voice in the process.

  • southeast lady

    SEis4ME: Concerning franchises and non-frachises: Why do many entrepreneur go the franchise route. Could it be that name recognition is good for a new business, could it be that loan money is available. Please respond.

    I am sick and tired of Black aspiring entrepreneur in Ward 8 opening up and the next thing I know--six months later or so-they are out of business. Ethiopian, orientals and others move into the same store and they appear to be doing fine. What's up with this.