Busboys and Poets: More Than a Restaurant


Busboys and Poets was founded in 2005 by artist, activist, and restaurateur Andy Shallal, an immigrant entrepreneur from Iraq. Busboys and Poets is a full-service restaurant, bar, bookstore, coffee shop, and events venue chain in the Washington, DC area. More than just a restaurant, Busboys and Poets is a community gathering place: a space where art, culture, and politics intentionally mesh. It is widely considered to be a cultural hub for artists, activists, writers, and thinkers. This case examines the factors that enable the success of Busboys and Poets in terms of its unique concept and its business strategy, as well as the challenges it has faced in becoming a successful business. The overall goal of the case is to introduce students to the concept of using food to promote culture, the arts, and political activism as well as to consider the challenges of owning and operating a local business. Students are invited to consider whether Busboys and Poets sets an example for other restaurants to follow in terms of going beyond traditional business objectives.

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