When Queen of Sheba debuted in 2005, there were no multistory condominiums with dog parks on the roof and sweeping vistas of the Shaw neighborhood. There was no Chaplin’s next door with $14 bowls of ramen and $20 pours of Japanese whiskey. There was no shortage of parking, either.
But in the 11 years since Nigisti “Queen” Gebreyesus and her husband, Embzam Misgina, open their Ethiopian restaurant, Shaw has become a developer’s playground, and all the shiny new commercial objects have put a squeeze on the couple’s business. In fact, before I spoke with Gebreyesus, I noticed Queen of Sheba was for sale. But the Queen told me the online listing was premature. The couple had been contemplating a sale but decided to give themselves more time to reverse their fortunes.
The sound you hear is the $20 Diner exhaling loudly — at least for Queen of Sheba, which, based on two recent meals, is turning out some of the finest Ethiopian fare anywhere. We don’t need to lose another standard-bearer on the Ethiopian dining scene. Earlier this month, the owners of Zenebech Restaurant announced they would be selling their property and closing their injera-based business after an 18-year run on T Street NW, located basically next door to the renovated Howard Theatre.