Andy Shilal: Busboys and Poets is a gathering space. It's a bookstore, it's a bar, it's a wonderful restaurant. It has a stage space in the back we call the Langston Room, a stage that we do all kinds of things on, everything from poetry to book talks, to panel discussions, fundraisers, political conversations, you name it. We also do music, all kinds of different things, everything that brings community together we do there. We wanted the bookstore to be kind of at the forefront of what we do, because we wanted information to be out there. Part of what instigated Busboys and Poets is really the desire to create a place where people can get informed. I always thought, you know what? Information needs to be out there, it needs to be presented to people in a way that's accessible. So I put a bookstore next to a bar, next to a restaurant. People come in, they are waiting for a table, they walk around the stacks of books and they buy a book on the spur of the moment and suddenly they're changed by that information that they just received. We also use the bookstore to bring in lots of authors, different writers from all different walks. We've had some, some of the greats and some locals. So it's been a great attraction.
I think the arts are such a significant part of any community. They define our humanity in so many ways and they certainly define communities. The arts have been slow to come to Washington and Washington has started to recognize itself as really an arts center with the Humanities Counsel, with the D.C. Arts Commission, there's a real effort to revitalize the arts and I think people are starting to understand, the importance of the arts, not just as a way to create this amazing vibe, in a given community, but the importance of the arts as an economic development engine. I'm always amazed, dollar for dollar when you spend money on the arts you get them back in folds and folds and folds. And if more economic development gurus would learn to understand that, I think economic development can take place in a much more rapid way. People do not move into a community because it has a mattress discounters in it, they move into a community because it's got beautiful arts communities, arts spaces. Places like Busboys and Poets for expel, where the arts are really part of what we do, create that wonderful vibe and people start buying into condos and paying top dollar because they can live next to places like this. When I opened my space at K street, at City Vista, the landlord was smart enough to ask me to come and be the anchor tenant there. When they announced that Busboys and Poets was coming in there, the city Vista sales went through the roof. They became the fastest selling condominium in the entire city, so the proof is in the pudding, it's right there.