Creative Life in the Gateway Arts District
Meet Alex Berry from Mediterranean Cafe, at the Mount Rainier Circle. This Egyptian-born father of four and fan of all things mechanical tells us how he ended up the owner of small cafe.
Business Basics. How did you open Mediterranean Cafe?
I had a body shop business down the street and I was always coming back and forth down Rhode Island Avenue. I saw this building by the sign outside, talked to the agent and got it.
Mount Rainier is a nice city with lots of potential. It’s an upcoming city and a quiet neighborhood. I thought, anybody would love to come to Mount Rainier. I’m thinking about coming to Mount Rainier! People are so friendly it feels like you are home. You don’t experience that anywhere else. You can interact with everybody.
A cafe is something the neighborhood needed. There were not many places to sit down and hang out, like there are in other places. Why we don’t have that? It’s taken a while to get it ready but it’s worth it. It makes me feel good to see people walk in and it feels like home to them too.
Middle eastern music and warm hospitality. Middle Eastern culture likes to have a crowd. They like to gather as a group, and they have a lot of fun. It’s a lifestyle. At the end of the day we’re all human and we all want to get to know each other.
I want people to sit and eat, hangout. I’d love to see the place crowded with people laughing and having fun. We made it look nice and comfortable, and our menu is healthy and simple. We just want to be a neighborhood place.
For the hookah bar upstairs, it’s the relaxed environment. Hookah comes from the middle east, like smoking cigars but a little older than that. We have food service upstairs, and drinks too. I invite you to host friends upstairs. it’s a comfortable space.
I’d like to see more people from DC get to know Mount Rainier, and more from College Park too. It’s a good place.
Creative Fuel. What keeps you going?
I love cars, motorcycles, and boats. We have four kids, all in school. Summer is coming so we’re getting the pool ready, we’re getting the boat ready. Janet, my wife, is funny and loves people. We enjoy our lives.
What’s your dream car?
Ferrari Testarossa, red. I’d take it for a trip across the country. Go to Texas, to California!
Cultural Connections. How do you connect to the Gateway Arts District?
I came from Eqypt in the early eighties and went right into the automotive industry. It felt like a great fit, and I was a natural entrepreneur. You have to work hard, nobody will give it to you. But anywhere else, you can work hard and you still won’t get it. Here you work hard and you can accomplish what you want. I like the arts district. I want to meet more creative people who want to do that.
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