Business Owners Share Their Concerns
Over the past few months, the typically vibrant community of the U Street Corridor, located in Northwest Washington D.C, has come into contact with a sudden increase of violence. The question for the famous corridor, known for its shops, restaurants and nightclubs, is how will this affect business?
Many are questioning whether the violence on U Street, for instance the shooting and killing of Jamal Coates, will soon cause the decline of a thriving customer base. However, some feel that the entertainment and historical significance of the corridor overshadows recent negative publicity.
“The amount of customers has decreased, but not by much.” said Hasna Faroudi, the manager at Utopia Bar and Grill. “I’ve personally worked here 10 years and I haven’t seen a drastic decline in business, but there has been a decline.”
Tek Tedla, a customer at the Salam Restaurant stated, “I frequent this restaurant twice a day because I live in the area and I have not seen much violence on U Street,” a sentiment echoed by many in the community.
Police say that a lot of the recent violence may be attributed to a rivalry between crews, but their suspicions have yet to be confirmed. However, police have taken into account the violence on the U Street Corridor and have taken the precautions to insure safety. “The area has become a lot safer with a higher police presence,” Faroudi added.
Despite this, some residents and business owners believe that the police presence will return to normal once the hype surrounding events dies down. With no explanation for the rash of violence in the area, some residents offer an alternate explanation.
Lona Megahed, a lifelong D.C. resident and manager at Local 16 Bar and Grill, believes that the string of violence is not a new phenomenon, but rather, a side effect of the gentrification affecting the district.
“Honestly, the violence is not attributed to the night life, but to gentrification. New York went through this with the 5 Boroughs and Chicago is going through it now,” Megahed went on to say,”When inner cities are renovated and improved, people become displaced due to the higher rate of living associated with these changes. This causes people to be distressed. Often the distress leads to violence.”