For Small Businesses In Anacostia, The Pandemic Was Just Another Storm To Weather

Published in DCist, March 11th, 2021

One such business owner is chef Peter Opare, operator of Ghanian takeout kitchen Open Crumb on Good Hope Road. His family, which produces food for Whole Foods hot bars from the same kitchen, took a serious financial hit when the grocery store chain closed its hot bars due to coronavirus concerns. To stay afloat, Opare changed the restaurant’s hours and nixed the breakfast menu to focus on serving lunch and dinner items like fried chicken sandwiches on homemade buns ($5), jollof rice ($5), plantains ($4), and shrimp and grits ($14).

“It takes a few years for a restaurant really to develop itself and create a reputation for returning customers. Funny enough, this was the year that we were doing that,” says Opare. “But unfortunately, because of the area we’re living in, I’m actually not seeing certain customers back.”

Opare says his revenue is largely tethered to whether his customers were able to receive unemployment benefits — a process that, during the pandemic, has been chaotic in the District. And while unemployment claims increased city-wide, wards 7 and 8 saw the highest relative growth in the unemployment rate, according to the D.C. Policy Center.

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