"I am from Ethiopia. I came to Washington in 1988 with my little girl. I am a registered nurse and did my training in Ethiopia. For my whole life, I have always worked two jobs. I was working at Birney Elementary School in Anacostia as a nurse. I would usually bring my own food because there was nothing to eat around here. I ended up having to go to the Safeway when I wanted a snack.
"With time, I saw that nothing was being opened, so I thought why not try myself. I heard that the government was giving grants to help businesses in Anacostia, which didn't happen to me. I wasted my time trying to get help from the city. I did it all by myself. I used my savings and had my family help me. We opened in January 2010. Now, my brother is the manager. My son and nephew help out. I come when I can and also still work as a nurse.
"I wanted to open on this side of the river because there are so many people who need coffee and a place to sit around and relax. This is the only place where you can get an espresso around here. Remember, coffee comes from Ethiopia, so this is what we love, too. I also wanted to give the community healthy food. I am also thinking about bringing Ethiopian food in by request.
"Now, a lot of people are thanking me and sending me cards. But I feel I am the one who is blessed. We have people who come by and say, 'We will still come and support you in the bad weather because we want you to succeed.' They want the neighborhood to succeed."
Big Chair Coffee, home of the Marion Barry Latte, is located at 2122 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., SE.