Uniontown Bar and Grill Attracts Patrons

On a warm Friday afternoon, individuals and groups of people are inside of Anacostia’s newly opened Uniontown Bar and Grill. It’s lunchtime and a man and woman sit at the bar and engage in conversation over burgers and fries while two women in business suits sit on a leather couch and do the same. After the first two weeks in business, Anacostia residents and workers appear to be fond of the new eatery in the neighborhood.

 Uniontown celebrated its grand opening on the corner of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and W Street on Feb. 3. Since the establishment is fairly new, some people haven’t had the chance to taste the food or experience the environment yet. This particular Friday afternoon was a first time visit for a few patrons.

Jamie McKinney has been living in Anacostia for nearly 30 years. After passing the bar and grill several times without going inside, McKinney decided to stop in and order a signature burger and a Coke.

Referring to the set up of the 1,500 square-foot spot, McKinney looked around the room in approval and said, “It seems like my kind of place.”

One of his hopes which he couldn’t conclude after only the first visit was that Uniontown would attract a variety patrons when it comes to age. 

McKinney, who is a retired mail carrier in his 60s said, “I like a mix of young and old people.” 

Young adults made up the majority of the lunchtime crowd at the time of McKinney’s meal. Periodically, a few older people walked through Uniontown’s open double doors.

Regardless of the age variation, McKinney saw the crowd of about 15 people as a positive indication for the future of the restaurant. Noticing that several businesses don’t have longevity in Anacostia, he commented that Uniontown will “survive especially with a good crowd of people for lunchtime.” 

A younger man named Marcus was another Anacostia resident and first time patron. Marcus, who declined to provide his last name, was sitting at the bar alone watching the flat-screen TV posted behind the bar and eating chicken sliders and french fries. He couldn’t say much about Uniontown after only the first visit, but he appeared to be reasonably satisfied at the moment.

Dressed in a short-sleeved gray polo shirt, jeans and New Balance sneakers Marcus was finishing his last bit of fries and was deciding on what beer to order. Calmly and quietly Marcus said, “The food was good.” 

The aspect of Uniontown that stood out the most to him was its uniqueness compared to the other eateries in the neighborhood. 

“It’s different,” Marcus said. 

He said that there aren’t too many bars in the area, and it was a good “change in the culture.” 

Marcus explained that he would have more to say about Uniontown after his second visit next week, but until then he said for his overall opinion: “Everything is OK. It’s laid back.” 

Tamika Joyner is sitting in the far rear corner of the restaurant closest to the kitchen. Her job, GreatSchools, is located down the street from Uniontown. Unlike Mr. McKinney and Marcus, the Feb. 18 afternoon was her third instance eating there. But on this trip, she invited a friend who was eating there for the first time. The menu is what brought Joyner back a third time to Uniontown. 

“The food is really good,” Joyner said. 

Along with the food, Joyner likes the “accessible location” and the atmosphere which she and her friend described as “cozy.” Like Marcus, she acknowledged the uniqueness of a sit-down grill and bar situated in one of the poorest areas in Washington, D.C. In more frank terms Joyner said, “It’s a nice place in the ‘hood.” 

From an employee’s perspective, waiter Calvin Moon is as fond of serving at Uniontown as the patrons who are eating and drinking there. Coming from “large-based restaurants” like Denny’s and Red Lobster where he use to work, Moon said that working at Uniontown “has been refreshing.” 

Compared to his previous jobs, Moon said the new indescribable feeling possibly comes from the patience of the patrons. Located in southeast D.C., he feels there is a great appreciation for a black owned and operated sit-down establishment in an area where it is rare to find such places. 

Moon has also been pleased with number of patrons coming to Uniontown. When the restaurant first opened, he recalled there being only a “limited crowd.” After Chris Jenkins’ extensive article in The Washington Post, the number of patrons significantly rose to the point where a normal afternoon would have patrons filling the room “wall to wall” which Moon says is “unusual for lunchtime.” 

“I’m just happy to be a part of it,” Moon said. 

By the end of his meal, Marcus was nodding his head to the 1990s R&B music and Joyner was feeling comfortable while enjoying her buffalo wings. McKinney showed his appreciation for the service by shaking Moon’s hand on his way out, even though he preferred Pepsi over Coke.

He was also satisfied with his well-done burger and fries that were beyond fast food quality, but after looking at his bill he saw that the quality came with a price.         

“If you don’t have money, $12 is high for a burger,” McKinney said.

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