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Tea Room Calabash Is Fundraising to Finish Its Location in Brookland

A Kickstarter campaign is under way to raise $25,000

A look inside the ongoing construction process at Calabash’s new location in Brookland.
Calabash/official photo
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Shaw teamaker Calabash is close to unveiling its second location, but first the homegrown brand needs about $15,000 more to get to the finish line in Brookland.

Dr. Sunyatta Amen, Calabash’s founder, tells Eater that if the company meets its $25,000 Kickstarter goal in the next week, its new 1,000-square-foot Northeast location (2701 12th Street NE) could be ready to open by the end of the year.

The second shop is already showing signs of life. Calabash is providing basil and sage grown on-site for pizzas at Menomale, which is also expanding, in exchange for free Neapolitan pies. When Calabash opens, other culinary herbs and medicinal plants sprouting across its outdoor patio garden will make their way into over 50 organic tea blends.

Calabash is big on giving back to its community at the original shop in Shaw. Amen says the shop provides up to 500 food and drink handouts a day to people in need. The Kickstarter donations will help keep the freebies flowing to Vietnam veterans and young kids, Amen says.

“For folks who love us who can afford to throw in $10 to $100, it’s an opportunity to keep doing good works and offset the costs of construction,” Amen says.

The construction process in Brookland has also been a community effort. Raised planter beds, made and signed by students at Idea Charter school, come with informational tidbits about each plant’s medicinal perks — like how Thai basil may alleviate headaches.

Wooden planter beds at Calabash were made my local students. Calabash/official photo

Amen, a fifth-generation master herbalist and naturopathic physician, relies on her Cuban-Jamaican great-grandmother’s recipes to create drinks that advertise health benefits.

Expanded offerings at the new location will include pour-over coffees, soups of the day, vegetarian sandwiches, gluten-free desserts, pies, and kombucha on tap. The new location is projected to operate from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Calabash will host regular neighborhood meetings and wellness events.

The final stages of work include some plumbing, permitting, and finishing the wooden bar. A teabag packaging machine will help ramp up manufacturing for its wholesale business, which currently sources to Baked & Wired, Eaton, and WeWork.