May 1, 2013 | by Mark Lee
14th St. venues fuel LGBT scholar soirée

Trailblazing mid-19th century American newspaper columnist, novelist and children’s book author Fanny Fern is credited with coining the phrase. Updating the New York Ledger writer’s adage, she penned the notion that “the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach.”

The restaurant portion of D.C.’s hospitality industry will this year generate $2.7 billion in annual sales. The combined contribution of bars and restaurants to the local economy in revenue generation, taxes, tourism, employment and a lively culture make the signature business segment a critical core component of the District’s financial stability and vitality.

While contributing to the fiscal health and collective soul of a city, the ever-volatile tight profit margins in operating a dining or drinking establishment make it difficult for businesses to commit to many of the multitude of solicitations for donations, sponsorships, product or participation. It’s hard enough managing the workload and paying the bills – especially in a city notorious for its high cost of conducting business and costly regulatory hoop-jumping processes.

When a distinguished assortment of popular hospitality businesses join together to generously assist in creating an enticing and distinctive charitable function funding a worthy community cause, it becomes calendar planning time.

So it is with an upcoming Point Foundation benefit event on 14th Street, N.W. – an illustration of the community “give-back” common to the industry.

Seven prominent Logan Circle-U Street restaurants and bars will be serving unique culinary dishes and mixing specialty seasonal cocktails on Thursday, May 9, at home furnishing retailer Room & Board, located at 1840 14th St., from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

The event is an opportunity to sample concoctions from the eagerly awaited Black Whiskey, the two-story hybrid bar/restaurant and art gallery preparing to debut this Saturday with small-batch cocktails and traditional Scottish bar food only steps south of 14th and P streets.

Popular landmark neighborhood hospitality pioneer Café Saint-Ex restaurant/bar and the adjacent Bar Pilar will be joined by award-winning and always-a-wait-to-be-seated contemporary Spanish restaurant Estadio, along with Black Restaurant Group standout Pearl Dive Oyster Palace with its street-facing open-air bar.

Rounding out the eclectic and dynamic assembly of chefs and mixologists will be Marvin Bistro and Bar, noted for its third-floor lounge and year-round rooftop Belgian beer garden, and companion Hilton Brothers enterprise and cocktail-focused speakeasy-style lounge The Gibson, offering some of the most interesting drinks in D.C. in an intimate environment also featuring a rooftop patio.

Local community leader, elected D.C. State Board of Education member and Point Foundation D.C. Regional Trustee Jack Jacobson describes the event as “an amazing opportunity to sample fare from a number of the best restaurants and bars on 14th Street while supporting a worthy cause.” Describing the generosity of the donor establishments, he adds that the group is “absolutely thrilled to have so many notable area venues coming together in tandem. It shows that when the community supports small businesses, they’re eager to return the favor.”

Hosted in Room & Board’s glass-enclosed rooftop event space and terrace with views of the avenue, this “taste of 14th” gathering benefits the organization’s “Point Scholars” program.

Funds underwrite scholarships and support professional guidance and mentoring for LGBT college and graduate school students with demonstrated leadership skills, scholastic achievement and involvement in the community, with financial need to continue their studies. Current scholars and program alumni will be in attendance to share their experiences. Newly expanded BodySmith Gym has donated a membership and training package for giveaway. The Blade is also a sponsor.

Tickets for the foundation’s annual Washington “Cornerstone” event, including inspired food and drink offerings, are $75 and available on the foundation website or contributed at the event.

Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com.

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