When ongoing renovation work is completed, the District’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library will boast a new 4,300-square-foot cafe and outdoor patio on street level as well as a 14,900-square-foot rooftop terrace, including a catering kitchen and event space. This week, D.C. Public Library (DCPL) announced it is searching for a food-services operator who could develop and manage the library’s gustatory offerings and also provide employee job training.
The flagship library, which closed in March 2017 for upgrades, is scheduled to reopen in fall 2020. The operator would serve “high-quality beverages and light fare in the cafe to Library customers and staff at moderate prices,” according to a solicitation from DCPL. (Cash, credit, and debit payments would be accepted.) In addition, it would “provide robust apprenticeship opportunities and paid employment in the hospitality industry ... especially for immigrants, veterans, disconnected youth, people of color, and returning citizens,” the solicitation notes.
DCPL projects that the MLK Library will welcome more than 1 million visitors within a year of its reopening. Officials say they will hold a site visit at the library August 16 and proposals from vendors are due September 6. In a statement, DCPL executive director Richard Reyes-Gavilan said the job training program would prepare employees “for success beyond their time at the Library,” and so “embodies Dr. King’s passion for economic self-determination.”
The $211 million project will also include a new entryway with public art, a large auditorium and conference center, a grand staircase, a redesigned reading room and collections area, and workspaces for artists. The MLK Library is situated in Penn Quarter at 901 G Street NW.