This local startup WorkChew is offering the growing community of flexible workspaces a different option while helping the restaurant sector in the area boost their daytime traffic.
What if you could whip out your laptop at a restaurant and fire off some emails without fielding dirty looks that make you feel like you’re breaking with decorum? An innovative new startup whose app launches today is transforming D.C. restaurants into coworking spaces during their off-peak hours. WorkChew offers an alternative to coffee shops, libraries, and places like WeWork and Cove.
Here’s how it works. Washingtonians can choose between a day pass or two monthly membership plans. One allows you to WorkChew in restaurants concentrated in one neighborhood while the other, an all-access pass, lets you WorkChew at all participating locations. WorkChew is a noun and a verb, like Uber.
Fourteen D.C. restaurants have signed on so far: HalfSmoke, RedRocks on H Street NE, Bareburger, Homestead, The Ministry, Osteria Morini, MXDC, Pitango Gelato on Columbia Road NW, Kaliwa, Casolare, Cork Wine Bar and Market, Matchbox on 14th Street NW, Shaw’s Tavern, and Fare Well. Across the river in Northern Virginia, Cheesetique in the Mosaic District, Colada Shop in Sterling, and Red’s Table in Reston are also WorkChew locations.
Members open the app and reserve a dedicated space at a WorkChew restaurant, which guarantees them an outlet and access to high-speed internet. Most restaurants keep WorkChew hours between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the workweek, though there are some exceptions, like Casolare. Because the Italian eatery is inside a hotel that offers breakfast, its WorkChew hours are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Each participating restaurant offers WorkChew members a deal. At Kaliwa it’s 15 percent off all food; Casolare takes 10 percent off the whole check; and Cork Wine Bar offers happy hour pricing. “We let the restaurant decide what they want to offer members, understanding that as we get more locations, it’s going to become more competitive as far as where people decide to go,” explains WorkChew CEO Maisha Burt.
Burt’s background is in big data, corporate strategy, finance, and investment banking. She has worked at commercial and investment banks as well as for the federal government as a contractor. She teamed up with co-founders Paul Dahm and Allyson McDougal to launch the startup.
Dahm, the chief relationship officer, was previously the executive director of Brainfood. The nonprofit, which no longer operates, engaged teens by teaching them cooking and life skills and helped them find employment in kitchens. Local chefs often served as guest instructors and fundraiser participants, which helped Dahm develop a close network of contacts in the D.C. restaurant scene. He leveraged these connections to help WorkChew with its initial outreach.
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