"I grew up in Philly. I came to D.C. in 2004 to work at the Florida Avenue Grill. One of the managers asked me to come and help him run this business. I knew about this place in Philly. Everyone knows about this place.
"The Grill was established in 1944 by Bertha and Lacey Wilson. When they started off, there were only two stools in here. The restaurant was only a fraction of what it is now. They used to share this space with two other stores. The Wilsons eventually bought the whole building and then sold the restaurant to their son. During the 1968 riots, most of the black businesses burned down except for this one. The owner was a Marine and he protected this restaurant. There were a couple of fire bombs thrown in the restaurant, but nothing that really stopped the business from running. After the riots, the business was really booming. Everyone started coming here to eat. That is how it got the momentum to stay here this long.
"The customers are a big part of this history. Learning about them is learning about the history of this community and of this restaurant. To me, working here is the best introduction to D.C. Everyone eats here, politicians and prostitutes and everyone in between. Through working here, I get to know a lot of people. When I started law school at the University of the District of Columbia, a bunch of professors knew me from the restaurant. Here you have white and black people, old timers and those who just moved into the neighborhood. This place has it all and has seen it all."
The Florida Avenue Grill is at 1100 Florida Avenue NW.