Written by Zach Rybarczyk, Program Director of Cleveland Park Main Street

In case we haven’t had a chance to meet, my name is Zach Rybarczyk, and I’m the Main Street manager for Cleveland Park Main Street. I still consider myself new to the role and new to the neighborhood. You may have seen me wandering the corridor, frantically taking notes on my phone, or chatting for too long with business owners while you are waiting in line for your pick-up order or having lunch or dinner with a friend–my apologies!

I don’t say this facetiously–Cleveland Park and its businesses have a special place in my heart, and not just because it’s my job to support them (or because I get nostalgic this time of year). Like I’m sure it has for so many of you, Cleveland Park has set the scene for both incredibly special moments and incredibly everyday moments for me since moving to the District nearly a decade ago. Though I lived (and still live) in Columbia Heights, my daily commute on the H-Series Metrobuses to the campus of American University included plenty of pit stops to Firehook’s patio for a quick coffee and pastry during a cram session. Or sometimes a beer and mussel pot at St. Arnold’s on the way home to celebrate a successful semester with classmates.

Just as often, my then-girlfriend (and now wife), burnt out from a long week, would walk down Connecticut from her Van Ness apartment to grab a quick meal at “our place”–Paragon Thai–which always seemed to hit the spot no matter what we ordered (no knock on Siam House, which is also delicious). It was those quick dinners and those lazy, meandering walks around the Cleveland Park neighborhood afterward, pointing out features of different historic homes that we liked or hated and couldn’t afford but would love to someday, that forever changed my life for the better. 

In a way, I’m a bit indebted to Cleveland Park, and I am so proud to be getting to know and work with such amazing small business owners, dedicated public servants, and generous residents who want to see their community thrive. There’s a long road ahead of us to make this a reality, especially as we find our way through the pandemic. But during this season of thanks, I’d ask that you donate whatever you can–financially, with your time and energy, or both!–to show that you love this Main Street and want to help support future special and everyday moments in Cleveland Park long into the future.

Picture the things you love most about your neighborhood. What about the small businesses that make our community unique? If you don’t act now, the COVID-19 crisis could irreparably damage the places you love most.  As we begin to understand the cascading impacts the last several months are having on our economy, the resources we rely on to support small businesses will be significantly restricted.

That is why we need your support today to ensure that District Bridges and our Main Street programs will be here for our businesses and community in the coming year.