We sat down with DC Ethiopian restaurant owner Abe Bayu this week to chat about his family’s new restaurant, Meleket, in Silver Spring. Abe and his two siblings grew up in their mother’s restaurant in Eritrea, so they decided to put that knowledge and passion to work here in our backyard. “Meleket” means a shofar, or ram’s horn in Amharic, and there is an impressive looking example hanging over the bar. While the restaurant is tucked into a tiny strip mall between a pizzeria and take-out spot, the decor inside pops when you enter, with stonework at the bar, copper ceiling tiles and a clean, uncrowded layout. It’s becoming a real gathering spot for folks in the area, and increasingly for people seeking it out despite the explosion of dining options in nearby downtown Silver Spring. There are many good reasons for this, not the least of which is Meleket’s commitment to live music…
Abe and his siblings learned from their mother that the secret to a successful restaurant is three things: great customer service, delicious food, and a nice, clean environment. They bring all three in abundance to Meleket and have added their own fourth element, live jazz and African music on Friday and Saturday nights. (You might even catch us playing with DC Highlife Stars.) It’s a much needed, low key way to bring live music to an area that has very little happening at night, and to enjoy it in a relaxed atmosphere a bit off the beaten track.
We didn’t restrict our chat to just the DC Ethiopian restaurant scene though; Abe has great taste in music so we played his selections from superstars Aster Aweke and Teddy Afro, and discussed the Ethiopian music scene in DC. Abe insists that good food and lots of music keep you young. Seems to have worked in his case so we won’t argue!
So have a listen and then drop into Meleket sometime and tell Abe you heard him on the radio. If you’re lucky he might blow the meleket while you’re there.
UPDATE: Check out this enthusiastic and fascinating review by The Washington Post’s Tim Carman.
[Click play for our interview w/ Abe Bayu – October 4, 2017]