Written by Michele Molotsky, Logan Circle Main Street Manager
We’re so excited to announce that two DC businesses have received the nationally competitive HartBeat of Main Street Grant: the Dance Institute of Washington, of Columbia Heights Main Street, and Cork Wine Bar and Market, of Logan Circle Main Street.
Cork Market’s owners, Diane Gross and Khalid Pitts exemplify what Stephanie Bush, head of Small Commercial and Personal Lines at The Hartford, the grant’s funder, said about small business owners, “[They] are a special breed. They’re strong, resilient, and creative, committed to their dreams and their customers.”
Diane and Khalid were among the first business owners to locate on 14th Street over ten years ago. Their vision for the corridor paved the way for more businesses to open. They are both committed community leaders. Diane was one of the first business owners to organize the Main Street program in Logan Circle, and Khalid ran for City Council. They are both very generous with their time and money and are always willing to help local causes. Diane and Khalid have been working diligently to “pivot” their business during the pandemic by opening up a patio and “Streatery” and a meal delivery venture.
Cork Wine Bar and Market opened in 2008 when there were only a handful of businesses on 14th Street. Their pioneering spirit was rewarded with very loyal customers. They received top reviews from both local and national press, including DCist, Eater DC, Washingtonian, Bon Appetit, the New York Times, and Wine Enthusiast. Food and Wine named them, “One of the Best Wine Bars in the United States.”
Diane and Khalid have an unusual background for small business owners. Diane worked as a human rights attorney, and Khalid was a union organizer. Neither of them has lost their interest and commitment to social justice – it’s just now channeled through their business. Diane and Khalid never say no to supporting community causes in our neighborhood. They have been involved in programs for homeless women, racial equity, and voting projects.
Since the pandemic started, I have been very impressed with Cork Wine Bar and Market’s owners’ ability to reinvent themselves continually. They’ve created special menus, Community Supported Agriculture boxes, and virtual wine tastings. Early in the pandemic, when everyone with sick with fear, Cork hit upon a marketing idea that made everyone laugh – they gave away a roll of toilet paper with every bottle of wine!
The Hartbeat could not have made a better choice than investing in Cork Wine Bar and Market’s recovery.