People Places Events In History Terms Organizations
Home Invites Members Groups Events Careers Videos News Photos Blogs Polls Forums Chat
Home > Blogs > Post Content

Three Wilson High School Grads Open a Cafe and Creative Space Near Union Market (229 hits)

The Village Café plans to serve the neighborhood much more than a cup of DC-made coffee.

Written by Regina Park



Founders Kevon King, Ryan Williams, and Mahammad Mangum (left to right), proudly displaying their new café. Photo courtesy of the Village Café.


It takes a village to open a restaurant–especially one that aspires to be a social, business, and creative hub like the new Village Café near Union Market. Founding friends Mahammad Mangum, Ryan Williams, and Kevon King are all DC natives who went to Woodrow Wilson High School. Although they gravitated towards different fields–Mangum in media and film, Williams in food, and King in hospitality–they came up with a business plan that’s wide-reaching enough to fit all their interests.

The trio want the cafe to serve its patrons more than food and drink, and are starting off by offering its back room for classes and local passion projects. That’s because while King and Williams grew up together in Wards 7 and 8, they experienced a dearth of basic amenities.

“Access to any resources was nonexistent at the time, from grocery stores to educational programs to resources for schools,” says King of the neighborhood he used to call home.

The cafe’s opening line-up includes sign language classes offered by Gallaudet University, children’s story time with neighboring bookstore Politics & Prose, a career skills workshop, and a Wilson alumni panel. On the menu, Village Café favors District businesses. Customers will find coffee from Southeast Roastery, and sandwiches for breakfast and lunch made from DC UrbanGreen produce.


The 23 year-old business owners also took inspiration from Richie Brandenburg, the director of culinary strategy at Union Market and an early mentor of Williams. The two met while Williams was still in high school—he went on a tour Brandenburg was leading at the then-new food hall. Williams mentioned his plans to study at the Culinary Institute of America in New York and cook under chef Nick Stefanelli at Bibiana–a name that jumped out to Brandenburg.

“He went ‘Oh yeah, I know Nick. He’s a tough guy,’” Williams says. After hearing that Williams didn’t have the proper knives, Brandenburg took him to a kitchen store and bought him a set. Years later, Brandenburg was ready to help at “full force” when Williams was ready to open his own place.

“We took a pitch book to him. He went through it, all the errors we made, made corrections, and took it to Edens [the real estate development behind Union Market],” says Mangum. “When he came back he basically said, ‘Let’s get you an opportunity to show people you can operate a business of your own.’”

The alley-like corridor café is essentially a trial run for the trio’s ultimate goal: a large warehouse facility in the Southeast where they can host pop-ups, exhibitions, and events for local businesses. Coffee is a great place to start, according to the guys.

“Cafés are the ultimate social connector,” says King. “You can make or break someone’s day with a cup of coffee.”

The Village Café.1272 5th St., NE; Open Sunday and Monday, 8 AM to 6 PM; Tuesday through Saturday 8 AM to 10 PM.


https://www.washingtonian.com/2018/10/09/wilson-high-school-grads-open-the-village-cafe-near-union-market/
Posted By: Elynor Moss
Wednesday, October 10th 2018 at 10:07AM
You can also click here to view all posts by this author...

Report obscenity | post comment
Share |
Please Login To Post Comments...
Email:
Password:

 
More From This Author
Lessons learned from Mr. Barack Obama and Mr. Sean Carter
Duchess Meghan just wore a stunning recycled outfit for date night with Prince Harry
Kenyan innovator invents smart hand gloves which turn sign language into audio speech
What is Albinism?
India.Arie Announces 2019 'Worthy' Tour
Things that make you go Hmmm....
3 Days of African American History & Heritage in Washington, DC
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.® to Present Shaw University with First Installment of $100,000 Endowment
Forward This Blog Entry!
Blogs Home
Employer Showcase
>> more | add
Latest Jobs
Principal, Thomas Snell Weaver High School (Grades 9-12) with Hartford Public Schools in Hartford, CT.
FT/Tenure Track Instructor - Nursing (Pediatrics/Medical-Surgical) with Santa Monica College in Santa Monica, CA.
Assistant Project Scientist at the Center for Polymers & Organic Solids at University of California Santa Barbara (JPF01441) with University of California Santa Barbara in Santa Barbara, CA.
Best Buy General Manager - Store 29 (Racine, WI) with Best Buy in Racine, WI.
Design Director with National Domestic Workers Alliance in New York City preferred, NY.
>> more | add
Latest Member Activity
david johnson just became friends with elynor moss. 09:23PM
elynor moss just became friends with david johnson. 09:23PM
robert gamble just edited his profile. 09:21AM
david johnson just commented on a term entitled 'sundown town'. 06:49AM
barry smith just became a new member. 01:40PM
elynor moss just posted a blog entitled 'kenyan innovator invents smart hand gloves which turn sign language into audio speech'. 08:28PM
elynor moss just posted a blog entitled 'what is albinism?'. 09:10PM
elynor moss just posted a blog entitled 'india.arie announces 2019 'worthy' tour'. 08:59PM
elynor moss just posted a blog entitled '3 days of african american history & heritage in washington, dc'. 08:22PM
tarsha wilson-toliver just edited her profile. 09:33PM
robert gamble just became a new member. 04:54AM
gregory boulware, esq. just commented on a blog entitled '~ "being hebrew" ...as recorded by and in 'the good book' ~'. 01:11AM
>> more | invite friends