In 2004 Parks and People purchased the historic Barnett’s Café at Division and Foote Ave NE, across from the Heritage section of Marvin Gaye Park, and renamed it the Riverside Healthy Living Center in honor of its proximity to the Watts Branch tributary of the Anacostia River. Barnett’s Café was once a robust presence in the neighborhood offering good food, a neighborhood gathering place, and music.
The historic site of Marvin Gaye’s professional singing debut in the old Crystal Room nightclub, Riverside features a 2,000-square-foot assembly space, a brand new 1500-square-foot commercial kitchen and cafe, a bike repair station, and an indoor seedling nursery. A community-wide public arts project called Art on the Block decorates the walls and curbs surrounding our center with mosaics to honor the history and heroes of this stream valley.
Riverside has become a hub of activity and advocacy for Marvin Gaye Park, as well as DC’s first comprehensive community food hub. Together with our partners at DC Parks and Recreation, DC Department of the Environment, DC Urban Greens, and the UDC College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability, and Environmental Sciences (UDC/CAUSES), Parks & People operates a model urban farm and native reforestation nursery around the corner at the Marvin Gaye Community Greening Center connected to Riverside’s commercial kitchen.
Thanks to community partnership and support, Riverside offers programming throughout the week including fitness and healthy cooking classes, in-season farm market, youth arts and dance classes, town hall meetings, films, forums, service learning, and park revitalization and urban forestry job training with our DC Green Corps.
Activate the Riverside Center
The Riverside Healthy Living Center is an ideal spot for community gatherings, programs, events, and meetings. We love to host special events for members of Washington Parks & People (Not a member? Join today!). Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve the Riverside Center.
Riverside Cafe Letter of Interest
Our goal is to expand the food preparation and distribution aspects of the Riverside Cafe as a multi-functional healthy living facility integrating food enterprise with health, nutrition, arts & culture, community empowerment, workforce development & environmental justice. We invite anyone interested in partnering with us in this effort to share their ideas.
In order to provide a fair process to all individuals, organizations and companies who would like to use the space to provide programming, products or services to the community, we ask all parties to submit their ideas through a Letter of Interest (LOI) via our Google Form. This process will allow us to select a dynamic mix of partners and programs and to begin scheduling round-the-clock activation of Riverside.