If you plan it, they will come, especially if free food and drink is involved. And so, a horde of thirsty and hungry twenty- and thirtysomethings descended upon southeast Washington, D.C.’s Anacostia neighborhood for a few hours of imbibing and noshing on Sunday to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the popular reviewing site Yelp.
Spread over the sprawling Anacostia Arts Center and the Honfleur Gallery next door, Yelpers of all stripes — elites and those such as yours truly who use the site but have never actually submitted a review — sipped and snacked their way through provisions from a large variety of (predominantly) local brands, to the sounds of recent top 40 hits.
Not just a great party, the event also also served as a fundraiser for the the Arts Center, which works to revitalize and sustain development in the often-overlooked southeast DC neighborhood. “When putting together our 10-Year Anniversary Bash, I knew I wanted to do it big in terms of great food, drink and entertainment but it was also important for me to bring the Yelp love to Ward 8,” says Kimberly Van Santos, Yelp DC’s senior community manager, who’s lived in the DC area for more than two decade. “Yelp is all about uncovering hidden gems around the city, so hosting a large scale event like this at a funky, underground, gallery was a dream come true.”
The Anacostia Arts Center used to be a Woolworth’s department store, a fact seemingly referenced in the gallery’s layout. Stepping into the venue felt like stepping into a mall, albeit a small but chic one, with a handful of unique boutiques. The layout served Yelp well in that the well-attended event’s guests were able to pop in and sample one room’s wares — provided by the likes of District Doughnuts, Cakelove, Vigilante Coffee, Jrink Juicery, Taqueria Nacional, just to name a few — with relatively small waits and minimal confusion. Rappahannock Oyster Company shucked their bivalves on-site, and, if lines were any indication, B.Lin Catering’s brisket sliders and mac and cheese proved particularly popular. The Center’s black box theater held a painting party by Creative Carousal, which provided a nice respite for those looking to relax for a bit before finding more vittles. Party hats and balloons greeted Yelpers at every turn, and, fitting for any 10-year old’s birthday, a magician impressed with sleight-of-hand tricks. A couple of photo booths with silly props rounded out the experience.
There weren’t too many options for this vegan to eat, but the quality of the available drinks more than made up for it. My favorite sips were the incredibly easy-drinking Cachaca Sao Paolo (but I’m biased), and the slam-azing Pisco Passion from downtown concert venue and restaurant The Hamilton, a smooth blend of the Peruvian spirit, passion fruit puree, lime juice and club soda. I also particularly enjoyed the cucumber mojito from Bowie, Md.-based Fou-Dre Vodka.
That Yelp should be able to throw a well-organized, -curated and -executed party is unsurprising. It’s kind of what they do. And with the event currently holding a five-star rating on its website, it’s safe to say they nailed it.