Restaurant Stories from Around The World in One Zip Code

Along Columbia Pike, recovery can be found in berbere spice and Rooibos tea and chile paste, each ingredient forming part of a unique recipe and story. Columbia Pike is home to over 60 unique restaurants, making the 22204 zip code a hub of diverse culinary excellence. When the Covid pandemic hit, our restaurants faced uncertainty and many challenges to stay afloat. Still, the community rallied around them with initiatives like Meals for Pathforward (formerly A-Span) and the Buy a Nurse Lunch Program. The latest program, which began in April 2020 and ended in May 2022, crowdsourced funds from the community to buy lunches from Columbia Pike restaurants struggling to remain open and delivered them to frontline healthcare workers at VHC Health, VHC Health Pediatrics, the Arlington Free Clinic, and Mary Marshall Assisted Living during the first year of the pandemic. 

We are incredibly proud of this book commissioned from Arlington artist Sushmita Mazumdar, as it encapsulates the soul of Columbia Pike, showcasing the diversity of our community and cuisines, our resilient and thriving businesses, and the togetherness that makes our community so special. In this project, Sushmita has gathered stories from the 22204 zip code, known as the “world in a zip code,” to create a collection of unique and diverse experiences. This book is a continuation of her 2016 Columbia Pike Recipes for You project, a collaboration between Cynthia Connelly of Arlington Arts, and in part by the Columbia Pike Partnership.

Columbia Pike Recipes for Recovery shares stories of how food connected a community during a time when they needed it most. This passion and patronage kept Columbia Pike restaurant owners in business and continues to forge a path towards individual and collective recovery.  

To celebrate the new book, The Columbia Pike Partnership, in collaboration with Arlington Public Library Columbia Pike Branch, Arlington Arts, and  AED BizLaunch hosted a free community book launch and panel discussion event this past April 14th. People from the public, local leaders, and small business owners gathered to celebrate recovery and sample delicious food provided by Los Chamacos, Ruthie’s All Day, The Cafe by Kitchen of Purpose, and Greens N Teff -all four restaurants featured in the book. 

The event also included a panel discussion that emphasized the importance of partnerships, collaboration, community, and small business support in the Covid-19 pandemic recovery process. The panel led by Stephen Smith, Program Director at Columbia Pike Partnership, featured Daniela Hurtado, Director of Operations and Programs at Kitchen of Purpose, Michelle Altman, Patient Care Director at VHC Pediatrics, and Susmitha Mazumdar, author of Recipes for Recovery. Daniela shared how the Buy a Nurse Lunch Program provided a sense of purpose for their staff at a time of uncertainty as they prepared meals to comfort those risking their lives on the frontlines. Michelle Altman, spoke about how having Columbia Pike restaurants deliver fresh hot meals during a time when people were avoiding contact with healthcare workers due to the high risk of exposure, was a way of showing support, understanding, and offering any help possible. “…We didn’t always have time to go to the grocery store, we didn’t feel comfortable going, we didn’t know what we would be eating… to have that food delivered to us, it was a breath of fresh air” said Altman.

Sushmita also spoke about the inspiration behind the book. She explained that when the pandemic hit, she heard about restaurants struggling which led her to revisit the restaurants she had interviewed five years ago. Her hope was to tell their stories of survival and recovery and to showcase the many ways people can connect with each other through food.

The event buzzed with excitement and a sense of togetherness as people enjoyed the delectable offerings provided by the featured restaurants. The Mexican elote with chili, a popular street food, was a hit with its salty and tangy flavors, while the spicy lentils with injera bread, an Ethiopian delicacy, offered a savory and satisfying taste. Handmade pimento cheese/ham biscuits and delicious sandwiches also tantalized the taste buds, leaving everyone feeling full and content.

But the true essence of the event lay in the opportunity for attendees to connect with the chefs behind these mouth-watering dishes, who had battled the pandemic and kept their businesses afloat. The book launch and panel discussion highlighted the significance of partnerships, collaboration, and small business support during these trying times. More than just a collection of stories and recipes, Columbia Pike Recipes for Recovery is a testament to the resilience of a community and the power of food to bring people together.

Photo Courtesy of Alex Sakes Photography

If you missed the event, don’t worry! You can still watch the recording of the panel discussion and immerse yourself in the heartwarming stories shared by the speakers. The book is now available for sale, and the funds raised will directly support the restaurants on Columbia Pike, so you can enjoy delicious food and support local businesses at the same time.

Future Events

This Summer, there will be many opportunities to interact with the author.

Stay tuned as we put together more events to be announced later this Spring via our social media and website. The book is also available for sale online on our website, or at the restaurants showcased in the book. The funds from the sale of this publication will go directly to continue supporting the restaurants on Columbia Pike.

Participant restaurants:

  • The Celtic House
  • Supreme Hot Pot
  • Takohachi Japanese Restaurant
  • Burritos Bro’s
  • Idido’s Coffe & Social House
  • Los Chamacos
  • Boru Ramen
  • Bethel Café
  • Greens ‘N’ Teff
  • Ruthie’s All-Day
  • The Kitchen of Purpose
  • Queen Mother’s
  • Pho Saigon Pearl R&B
  • Meda Coffee & Kitchen

Experience the Pike’s vibrant food scene through the eyes, ears, and mouths of those who call it home.

Photos Courtesy of Alex Sakes Photography