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.

This case was prepared for inclusion in SAGE Business Cases primarily as a basis for classroom discussion or self-study, and is not meant to illustrate either effective or ineffective management styles. Nothing herein shall be deemed to be an endorsement of any kind. This case is for scholarly, educational, or personal use only within your university, and cannot be forwarded outside the university or used for other commercial purposes.

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