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Left with virtually no choice, lifelong Ward 7 resident Edward Fisher often leaves his east-of-the-river home for downtown, the U Street corridor or the Atlas District to sit, dine and get a taste of the city.
“Many [Ward 7] residents do frequently eat out at restaurants, but we obviously leave the ward to do that,” says Fisher, chief of staff to Ward 7 councilmember Yvette Alexander. A Denny’s restaurant that sits at 4445 Benning Road NE opened in 1999 and is the only sit-down restaurant serving the more than 70,000 residents in the ward. For decades prior, fast food options and liquor stores have been the prime options for food and wine in the ward. Even the ward’s most famed dining landmark, the Shrimp Boat at East Capitol St. NE, which was built in 1953, is a carryout. But while east-of-the-river neighborhoods are "known" for their lack of economic vitality, residents say they're hungry—literally and figuratively—for more sit-down dining options in their neck of the woods. So why aren't restaurateurs flocking to Wards 7 and 8, where the customers are there and the rents are cheap?