It takes a village to open a restaurant–especially one that aspires to be a social, business, and creative hub like the new Village Café near Union Market. Founding friends Mahammad Mangum, Ryan Williams, and Kevon King are all DC natives who went to Woodrow Wilson High School. Although they gravitated towards different fields–Mangum in media and film, Williams in food, and King in hospitality–they came up with a business plan that’s wide-reaching enough to fit all their interests.
The trio wants the cafe to serve its patrons more than food and drink, and are starting off by offering its back room for classes and local passion projects. That’s because while King and Williams grew up together in Wards 7 and 8, they experienced a dearth of basic amenities.
“Access to any resources was nonexistent at the time, from grocery stores to educational programs to resources for schools,” says King of the neighborhood he used to call home.
The cafe’s opening line-up includes sign language classes offered by Gallaudet University, children’s story time with neighboring bookstore Politics & Prose, a career skills workshop, and a Wilson alumni panel. On the menu, Village Café favors District businesses. Customers will find coffee from Southeast Roastery, and sandwiches for breakfast and lunch made from DC UrbanGreen produce.