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Mixing it up

Get as basic or elaborate as you wish at new yogurt parlor

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Menchie's, dining, Bryan DeRosa, gay news, Washington Blade
Menchie's, dining, Bryan DeRosa, gay news, Washington Blade

Bryan DeRosa of Menchie’s on U Street. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

If variety is the spice of life, new frozen yogurt shop Menchie’s (1939 12th Street, N.W.) has it in spades with 14 rotating flavors, nearly 50 toppings and the chance to get as much or as little as you want.

Danna and Adam Caldwell founded the Encino, Calif.-based chain, which offers self-serve frozen yogurt with a wide selection of toppings. The name Menchie’s comes from the Yiddish word mensch, meaning “good person.” Each person at a Menchie’s franchise wants to help the guest have a positive experience, enjoy their mix and come back for more.

Menchie’s has nearly 100 rotating flavors including a range of regular, low carb, low sugar and non-dairy yogurts. Menchie’s also has its own private label of yogurt allowing its staff to develop their own flavors and distinguish themselves from other frozen yogurt establishments throughout the United States. Menchie’s frozen yogurts include live and active cultures (a digestive aid not often found in frozen yogurt) and meet quality standards established by the National Yogurt Association.

When one walks into the playful store on 12th Street between T and U streets, it’s easy to get excited. I felt like a naughty child filling sample cups with one of the 14 flavors (or two flavors swirled together), something one is encouraged to do before deciding. Each flavor seemed better than the last and the more I tried, the harder the decision became.

But before I put myself into a self-induced diabetic coma, I stopped tasting and decide on a flavor. I chose the red velvet, a rich and creamy yogurt that replicated the flavors of my favorite cake incredibly well. I topped it with a bit of coconut and some white chocolate chips. My husband decided to go with half a cup of chocolate and vanilla snow swirl and half a cup of Dole pineapple and coconut swirl, with a bit of strawberry topping. We paid — 39 cents per ounce — and sat inside, though outdoor seating is also available.

As we sat, shop owner and friend Anthony Aligo, who’s gay along with his business partner Bryan DeRosa, pulled up a chair and joined us. Seeing that my husband had two distinctive flavors in his cup, Aligo said, “I’m looking into getting cup dividers so that you can have his-and-her cups, or just keep your flavors from touching.”

Aligo is clearly a man after my own heart, because I would have had another flavor, but I didn’t want it touching my red velvet concoction. Aligo spoke excitedly about the flavor options, the toppings, and even showed us a picture of the biggest cup of frozen yogurt he’s seen so far — a mile-high mix of flavors and toppings costing a little over $18.

“She walked out of the store with it, but I was just worried it was going to topple over onto the ground, I don’t even know if she managed to eat all or any of it,” he said.

Aligo opened Menchie’s because “he wanted a place for our LGBTQ family to be able to congregate and socialize as well as cater to our youth so that they always have a safe place to be.”

His favorite thing about the store is to be out from behind the counter and socializing with the customers. He’s working hard on outreach, partnering with local businesses as well as organizations like SMYAL so Menchie’s can live up to his vision. He says business has been strong since the July opening.

Menchie’s is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11a.m. to midnight.

Menchie's, dining, Bryan DeRosa, gay news, Washington Blade

Menchie’s on U Street owner Anthony Aligo (far left), store manager Sarah Null (second from the right front row) and store owner Bryan DeRosa (far right) with other employees. (Photo courtesy of Menchie’s on U Street)

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Books

New book explores ‘Breaking the Rainbow Ceiling’

The benefits of coming out at work

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(Book cover image courtesy of Bloomsbury)

‘Breaking the Rainbow Ceiling’
By Layla McCay
c.2024, Bloomsbury
$24/240 pages

You can see the CEO’s office from the outside of your workplace.

You’ve actually been in that office, so you know what it looks like inside, too. Big, expansive desk. Cushy, expensive chair. Ankle-deep carpet. The CEO got there through regular means over the course of his career – something you’d like to do, too. But as you know, and as in the new book, “Breaking the Rainbow Ceiling” by Layla McCay, you’ll have to take a different path.

Of all the thousands of board seats and C-suite occupiers in American businesses, only a very tiny number – less than one percent – are occupied by people who identify as LGBTQ. In London, says McCay, no one on the Financial Times Stock Exchange identifies as such. Just six of the world’s leaders, past or current, have come out as LGBTQ.

The reasons for this are many, from discomfort to a sense of a lack of safety or just plain mistrust. Employees often don’t talk about it and employers can’t or don’t ask, which can lead to a lot of issues that cis, heterosexual employees don’t have to think about.

LGBTQ employees make less money than their straight co-workers. They experience discrimination ranging from sexual violence on one end, to micro aggressions on the other. Discrimination can be found in educational settings, and networking events, in a lack of mentorship, and the feeling that one needs to “code-switch.” Even an overseas job offer can be complicated by identifying as LGBTQ.

And yet, says McCoy, there are benefits to coming out, including a sense of authenticity, and feeling as if a load has been removed from one’s shoulders.

If you are an employer, McCoy says, there are things you can do to help. Include LGBTQ people in your diversity programs at work. Insist on it for recruitment. Make sure your employees feel safe to be themselves. Make all policies inclusive, all the time, from the start. Doing so benefits your business. It helps your employees.

“It’s good for society.”

Pretty common sense stuff, no? Yeah, it is; most of what you’ll read inside “Breaking the Rainbow Ceiling” is, in fact, very commonsensical. Moreover, if you’re gay, lesbian, bi, trans, or queer, you won’t find one new or radical thing in this book.

And yet, inside all the nothing-new, readers will generally find things they’ll appreciate. The statistics, for instance, that author Layla McCay offers would be helpful to cite when asking for a raise. It’s beneficial, for instance, to be reminded why you may want to come out at work or not. The advice on being and finding a mentor is gold. These things are presented through interviews from business leaders around the world, and readers will find comfort and wisdom in that. You’ll just have to wade through a lot of things you already know to get it, that’s all.

Is it worth it? That depends on your situation. You may find nothing in “Breaking the Rainbow Ceiling,” or it may help you raise the roof.

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Out & About

Under Armour hosts LGBTQ obstacle course

‘Unmatched Pride’ event held in Baltimore

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Unmatched Athlete in partnership with Under Armour Unified will host the inaugural “Unmatched Pride event for LGBTQ+ and allied youths” on Saturday, July 20 at 11 a.m. at the Stadium at 2601 Port Covington Dr. in Baltimore Peninsula.

Teens 13-17 and kids 8-12 will have the ability to compete in obstacle course activity and skills challenges. The obstacle course will consist of a variety of fun stations that will test participants in strength, agility, and cardio. Flag football skill challenges and more will be offered.

For those who are interested, there will be an opportunity for youths to compete with and/or against their parents as well at 1:30 p.m. Registration is available on Eventbrite

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Out & About

Blade’s Peter Rosenstein holds book talk in Rehoboth

‘Born This Gay’ memoir explored

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Longtime Washington Blade contributor Peter Rosenstein will hold an author talk on Thursday, July 25 at 5:30 p.m. at CAMP Rehoboth (37 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach, Del.) in conversation with fellow author Fay Jacobs. The pair will discuss Rosenstein’s new memoir, “Born This Gay: My Life of Activism, Politics, Travel, and Coming Out.” Register at camprehoboth.org.

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