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Uniontown Bar and Grill brings nightlife to Anacostia

By Anissa Pierre/Howard University News Service
On March 16, 2015

Uniontown Bar and Grill is one of only a few venues bustling at night in the southeast neighborhood of Anacosita.

It’s a frigid Friday night, and the entertainment centers of the city – Chinatown, U Street, Georgetown, H Street, Capitol Hill, Adams Morgan and Barracks Row – are flourishing with people crowded into bars and restaurants, eager to warm their fingers, enjoy good food and interesting chatter.

In the southeast neighborhood of Anacostia, however, the streets are dead with the exception of the 2200 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.

That is the home of Uniontown Bar and Grill, one of only two sit-down restaurants in the neighborhood.

Anchoring the corner of King Avenue and W Street, Uniontown sits across for the neighborhood’s iconic Big Chair and the Big Chair Coffee and Grill, the only other sit-down restaurant. Like Uniontown, it also recently reopened after being closed.

In 2012, the restaurant closed after it opened its doors in 2011 after the owner pled guilty to selling cocaine. Now under new management following the conviction on drug charges of the previous owner, Uniontown has an authentic Washington feel.

Uniontown is unassuming on the outside. The only indication that something is going on inside come from the few patrons standing outside have a smoke.

Inside is a multi-aged crowd. People are buying drinks, chatting, laughing and dancing to deafening music as a disco ball shoots multicolored lights across the walls and floors.

It offers themed drinks, like the Marion Barry, the Chuck Brown and the Ballou Knight, named after the mascot of nearby Ballou High School. On the second level patrons listen and dance to go-go music and enjoy hookah.

“The people draw me here,” said Christine Montgomery, a meeting planner who lives in the neighborhood. “It’s a family atmosphere.”

On Fridays and Saturdays, the restaurant is open until 2:30 in the morning. Uniontown also hosts a happy hour during the week from four to eight. A new attraction are themed nights, including motorcycle night on Mondays and comedy night on Wednesdays.

“On the weekdays, it’s a mature crowd and everyone comes after work to unwind,” said Jackie Maddox, 54. “They have karaoke and jazz here. It’s really nice atmosphere.”

Aftermath, which plays R&B, pop and go go, has been playing at Uniontown for about a month.

Female vocalist Tiny performs with Aftermath band at Uniontown Bar and Grill.

Female vocalist who goes by the name Tiny lives in Ward 8 and was coming to the bar well before her band started playing there.

“It’s a decent bar,” she said. “It’s in the community so you can get something to eat, watch the game. It’s a nice stop.”

Dmaz Lumukanda, 39, is a native Californian, but he said feels completely immersed in the culture whenever he’s at Uniontown.

“Pure and uncut” is how the Howard University graduate describes Uniontown.

“I’m not from D.C.,” said Lumukanda, “but I love a unique authentic experience, and this is it. It doesn’t get more D.C. than this.”

Ayenubizu Yimenu, the owner of The Big Chair Coffee N’ Grill across the street at 2122 King Ave. said that people come eat at her restaurant, then head over to Uniontown for dancing.

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