Askale Café Renovation

Askale’s Story 

I’ve had a dream for a long time: to own a restaurant. It’s what makes me happy—when people are eating and enjoying food. I started cooking in Addis Ababa when I was seven years old. I didn’t go to school because I was the oldest in the family of 8 kids. At first, I wasn’t allowed to make injera, which needs a big fire. But when I was 12, my mom prepared a meal and left right before making the injera. “I’m going make the injera,” I said to myself. At first, my mother was angry because she was worried for my safety, but then she tried my injera and loved it.   

 My husband and I moved here from Addis Ababa in 1996 and brought our 5 children over. When the kids were grown up, I said, I have to do something for myself. I want to do what I love to. I know this place is needed—I’ve seen the changes in the neighborhood. But it’s hard to run a restaurant. Recently, I went through a health scare and wondered if I’d have to close. But then I thought about the people who come here and need my help and my hugs, I knew that I just can’t give it up.

Why Brookland?

I was looking for a small, not too big place. A lot of people were telling me to open one in Virginia, but it’s wasn’t the right time, and it wasn’t the right place.  One of my friends told me about this spot. The moment I saw it, I said, “This is it. This is my place.” My husband said, “You haven’t even seen the inside yet!” But I knew: this is my place. 

It took us three months just to clean up. After that, I started to offer the coffee ceremony. But people wanted me to make food—they were begging me for it!  So I started with traditional Ethiopian dishes and saw the restaurant grow. People become friends here. They’re more like family—we all eat together and get to know each. Whoever wants to cry, they’ll come and talk to me. Even the people who don’t speak, they come here if they want a hug, and I give them a hug. When people are happy, I’m happy. It’s my calling.

I think this is just the right place for me, and I just want it to be great for me and for everyone who loves it here.

Future Dream

The Kitchen
*Level / remove stairs
*Add counter space
Dining Room
*Remove drop ceiling
*Add bar / bartender
*Remain open later
*Create meeting spaces for community events
  • Rylan Smith 
    • $10 
    • 44 mos
  • Sizwe Dumisani 
    • $50 
    • 45 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $75 
    • 46 mos
  • Ben Ardwin 
    • $100 
    • 46 mos
  • Charles Collins Chase 
    • $150 
    • 46 mos
See all


Askale Shiferaw 
Washington D.C., DC
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