Women's History Month

28 Women-Owned Businesses to Support in DC

From flower shops to distilleries and everything in between.

There may not be a woman running the White House (yet), but that doesn’t mean that women aren’t running Washington DC. In the nation’s capital, female-owned restaurants, boutiques, and businesses abound, and women from a wide range of backgrounds are bringing their unique perspectives to everything from fine dining and bagels to framing and floral arranging. 

Businesses across the United States have felt the squeeze of the pandemic, and women in particular have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19—being more likely to work in “essential” industries. 

“The pandemic hit us family-run businesses hard,” says Hatice Rosato, the co-owner of H Street Mediterranean spot Sospeso. “We went from 23 employees to only five overnight, and were still raising our own children.” But Rosato and her team found a way to keep things moving. “We changed our menu to make it more to-go friendly, and then we started jarring and bottling some of our most popular house made items like spices, jams, harissa, and vermouth.” 

Indeed, for some women business owners, the challenge presented by the pandemic has only galvanized them to prove their resilience. “We fielded calls from frantic restaurateurs forced to close their doors and worried CEOs whose sales had come to a screeching halt,” Sara Morgan, the founder and CEO of Eleven Eleven PR, which represents a number of women-owned businesses in DC. “It was heartbreaking and scary, but I have never felt more purposeful or learned so much because I saw first-hand how resilient people are.” 

And much of that resilience comes from the strong community of women in the city. While Kelly Phillips, the general manager and owner of Oaxacan restaurant Espita, notes that it’s a “strange time to be a business owner,” she adds, “we’re moving into a time where female restaurateurs and chefs are becoming more of the norm—and I love that about DC.”

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ve rounded up a list of some of our favorite women-owned businesses in DC. This represents just a small sampling of the stores, restaurants, and creative pursuits run by women in the city.

Come for the wine, stay for the beautiful scenery. Lulu’s Winegarden feels like what you wish your backyard could look like to host the outdoor dinner of your dreams, and reflects co-owner Brittany Carlson’s southwestern upbringing (and her husband’s Guatemalan heritage). While wine bars can be fussy and verge on fine dining, Lulu’s has none of that pretense, and is instead a communal, open space where good wine, good food, and good conversation often coincide. 
How to support: Make a reservation or order pickup

Sospeso

H Street

Hatice Rosato co-owns Sospeso with her husband Mike, and has made supporting women a key part of their business ethos. The chefs at the restaurant, as well as their beverage director, are all women. Whether you’re looking for a Mediterranean small (or large) plate, some house-made vermouth, or a strong cup of coffee, this cafe/market hybrid has something for everyone.  
How to support: Make a reservation or order pickup

Violeta Edelman founded Dolcezza Gelato with her husband Robb in 2004. Since its founding, Dolcezza has grown to eight gelato and coffee shops around DC in addition to a retail gelato operation. While the pandemic has resulted in some store closures, Edelman has since pivoted to focus on the team’s wholesale/retail operation. Dolcezza can now be found in 1,500 markets in all 50 states 
How to support: Order online or takeout

Pennyroyal Station

Mount Rainier

In 2016, Erin Edwards, former co-owner of DC's beloved Bar Pilar, was house-hunting in Mount Rainier, Maryland, when she instead found the space for her second restaurant, Pennyroyal Station. After numerous delays, Pennyroyal opened in late 2020, and has been delighting diners with its casual and seasonal comfort food ever since.
How to support: Make a reservation or takeout

Buffalo and Bergen

Multiple locations

Gina Chersevani is the mastermind behind one of the city’s most talked-about bagel shops (a difficult feat in a city that has recently exploded with carb-slinging outposts). Buffalo & Bergen makes delicious New York style bagels, as well as a wide range of delicious treats and yes, cocktails. 
How to support: Order online or takeout


 

Poppy

Online

Poppy’s founder and CEO, Cameron Hardesty, who worked in policy communications in the Obama White House, first had the idea for Poppy while designing the flowers for her own wedding. Fast-forward a few years, and Hardesty has successfully raised a $2-million seed round for the floral startup that gives customers the option of designing their own beautiful bouquets, or leveraging the company’s network of floral designers. 
How to support: Shop online

Chris Zhu is the powerful force behind not one, but two Chinese mainstays in the DC area. There’s Han Palace in Tysons, and China Garden in Rockville, both of which offer eager diners familiar Chinese favorites (and yes, dim sum). 
How to support: Dine in or order takeout

Primrose

Brookland

Primrose is a French-inspired wine bar co-owned by Lauren Winter and her partner, Sebastian Zutant. The beautiful neighborhood wine bar is known for its intimate setting and dedication to detail. If you’re looking for a French experience without the fussiness, Primrose is certainly a destination to check out. 
How to support: Make a reservation or takeout

Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery
Owner, Umber Ahmad | Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery

Umber Ahmad’s Pakistani heritage and Michigan upbringing (where she frequently experienced the cuisine of Finns and Swedes) have both influenced the renowned pastries. Her brioche donuts, after all, are the stuff of legends. A multi-talented entrepreneur, Umber is a founding director of a boutique investment advisory firm that specializes in business development throughout the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and Asia. 
How to support: Order takeout

This Southern Mexican spot is known just as much for its street food—tacos, tlayuda, alitas—as it is for its amazing selection of mezcal. During the pandemic, owner Kelly Phillips and her team started a delivery-only brand called Ghostburger to help keep Espita’s kitchen running and are gearing up to open a new cafe, Las Gemelas, in Union Market.

Toastique

Multiple locations

Toastique was envisioned and created by founder Brianna Keefe, a former D1 athlete who quickly learned how important it was to have wholesome meals throughout the day to keep her energy up while on the go. Day in day out, Brianna expanded her original avocado toast, to various toast creations to accommodate her busy schedule anytime of the day. Today, her favorite toasts are available to folks in three DC locations. 
How to support: Order online

Susan Tynan founded Framebridge after being frustrated by the high price point and low accessibility of custom framing options. Today, Framebridge is a popular, easy-to-use, direct-to-consumer framing service that still manages to offer a personal product and experience. The company’s brick-and-mortar store is in the heart of DC, where you can check out a range of framing options for your unique needs. 
How to support: Shop online

Rachel Fitz has created a veritable cider revolution with Anxo. The cidery offers both a dine-in menu and cans to go (you’ll want to grab more than a couple), and uses apples purchased directly from farmers that are then fermented dry with wine and native yeasts. 
How to support: Make a reservation or order online

Restaurateur Rose Previte is behind this cozy neighborhood gem known for its exposed brick walls, internationally inspired street food menu, and its romantic ambiance. Previte is also the mastermind of Maydan, which puts North African and Middle Eastern cooking on display. 
How to support: Make a reservation or takeout

Hank's Oyster Bar

Multiple locations

In a city filled with crustaceans (on restaurant menus, we mean), Hank’s Oyster Bar has long been a standout for its delicious fare and reasonable pricing. Jamie Leeds has turned her seafood empire into a force to be reckoned with, having now opened three Hank’s locations, and another Italian eatery aptly named Hank and Mitzi’s.
How to support: Make a reservation or takeout

Mama Chang
Owner of Mama Chang's, Chef Lisa Chang | Mama Chang

Mama Chang

Fairfax

Upscale Chinese eatery Mama Chang celebrates the women of the Chang clan, most notably celebrated chef Lisa Chang. The menu features Hunan, Szechuan, Hubei, and home-style Chinese cooking and recipes, many of which have remained in the Chang family for generations. 
How to support: Dine in or order takeout

Soi 38

West End

If you’re looking for authentic Thai food, look no further than Dia Khanthongthip’s creations at Soi 38. The restaurant is known for its street food and creative cocktails, and the spacious interior of the restaurant serves as an inviting backdrop for socially distant fun. 
How to support: Make a reservation or takeout

After a high-pressure political career serving as the chief of staff for Rep. Gabby Giffords and in the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama administrations, Pia Carusone decided to pursue her dream. Together with her childhood friend, Rachel Gardner, they founded Republic Restoratives distillery in 2015, thanks to a lot of crowdfunding and hard work. The political background is still on display in their spirits like Madam Whiskey, Rodham Rye, and the American Trilogy bottled cocktail.
How to support: Shop online.

Thip Khao

Columbia Heights

Seng Luangrath has made easy work of proving how delicious Laotian food can be, and even during the pandemic, has attracted flocks of eager diners to her Columbia Heights restaurant. You may not think you want to try crispy pig ears or fish sauce caramel, but Luangrath will make a believer out of the most devoted skeptics. When paired with the classic cocktails from the mind of bartender Al Thompson, this is an experience that should not be missed. 
How to support: Make a reservation or takeout

Tail Up Goat
Tail Up Goat | @tailupgoat

Tail Up Goat

Lanier Heights

The Michelin guide has given a nod to Jill Tyler’s Mediterranean bistro, whose four-course dinner menu is currently being offered for $79 per person (either dine-in or to-go). While you’re at it, don’t forget to check out the Caribbean-inspired cocktails. 
How to support: Make a reservation or takeout

Baan Siam
Chef Poksubthong | Baan Siam

Baan Siam

Mt. Vernon Triangle

The restaurant once known as Baan Thai is now Baan Siam, but it’s still being run by fabulous female chef Chef Jeeraporn “P’ Boom” Poksupthong. Bringing recipes from her mother and grandmother to her kitchen in DC, Chef Poksupthong offers traditional Thai dishes that are generally harder to find in the U.S. 
How to support: Make a reservation or takeout

Steadfast Supply’s mission is to provide a retail platform for independent brands and designers from around the globe to share their goods and their stories with our neighboring communities. This female-run, female-owned business helps connect makers with customers and advance the local creative community to the DMV. Initially a short-term pop-up in 2016, Steadfast Supply has grown into two retail establishments. 
How to support: Shop online

Take Care

Georgetown

Becky Waddell is the founder and owner of Take Care, a natural skincare shop in D.C. Whether you’re looking for skincare or beauty products; wellness or spa services, Take Care is a much-needed oasis. 
How to support: Shop online or in-person

Women’s clothing shop Lettie Gooch offers funky, bright, and unapologetically fierce clothing and accessories for the modern woman. Founder Theresa Watts seeks to empower women through fashion, and this boutique certainly gets the job done. 
How to support: Shop online or in-person

Seda Nak has created something of a one-stop-shop with Shopkeepers, which offers a retail experience, cafe, and grocery store all in a single setting. Get everything you need and more in this creative haven.  
How to support: Shop online or in-person

Buttercream Bakeshop

Mt. Vernon Triangle

Tiffany MacIsaac has her work cut out for her when going up against the cupcake greats of DC (yes, Georgetown Cupcakes is also women-owned). But she’s more than risen to the challenge with her small yet mighty Buttercream Bakeshop. Try every cupcake and every baked good, and good luck not going back. 
How to support: Order online or takeout

Hook Hall
Hook Hall

Hook Hall

Park View

Anna Valero has created a whimsical escape up north in Park View, where you can experience its Viking Village, or other seasonal themes throughout the year. The expansive indoor and outdoor space provides a delightful backdrop for socially distant socializing, and of course, the large menu of food and drink doesn’t hurt the good times either. 
How to support: Make a reservation to dine-in or order takeout online.

Ice Cream Jubilee

Multiple locations

Victoria Lai started making ice cream in her kitchen over a decade ago. Today, she’s sending pints of ice cream to people’s homes across the country. DC denizens, of course, can actually visit a location in-person, checking out flavors like Thai Iced Tea, Citrus Sichuan Peppercorn, Matcha Green Tea, Red Bean Almond Cookie, and Roasted Barley Tea. 
How to support: Order online or takeout

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