Shawn Townsend has been named president and CEO of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. (Courtesy photo)
Shawn Townsend has been named president and CEO of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. (Courtesy photo)

The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan (RAMW), the trade association representing more than 1,400 food and hospitality service establishments in the DMV area, has named Shawn Townsend as its new president and CEO. 

Townsend, who served as a principal at Dewey Square Group and as the District of Columbia’s inaugural night mayor, will begin his new post as president in mid-January 2023.

“Our industry is at a pivotal moment and we are thrilled to welcome Shawn in this role to lead both the industry and organization into the next chapter,” said Gavin Coleman, chair of the RAMW Board of Directors and partner of Long Shot Hospitality. “Shawn brings a bounty of energy, experience and knowledge and is already in the unique position to have earned the trust of many operators across the city and region.”

The newly appointed RAMW president is not new, but, rather, true to the restaurant industry– he grew up watching the ins and outs of the business in his father’s restaurant. 

Because he worked with the D.C. government for more than a decade, the former director of the Mayor’s Office of the Nightlife and Culture– appointed by Mayor Muriel Bowser– has a pulse on the District’s hospitality  industry.  In his role as night mayor, he was responsible for advising the Bowser administration on challenges affecting D.C. ‘s food, beverage and nightlife industries, and served as a pipeline for city business to communicate, promote growth and engage with the District government.  According to RAMW, he was also key in developing the city’s strategic hospitality engagement plan before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Having worked with him while he was night mayor, Ben’s Chili Bowl Historian Bernard Demczuk, said he supports RAMW’s decision to name Townsend as its new leader.

“Mr. Townsend was very supportive of the U.S. Street corridor.  He responded when we had issues, and I thought he was an excellent night mayor,” Demczuk said.  “I see him doing a good job, because he knows the industry, he knows the people, he knows the challenges and I think he’ll be a good director of the Restaurant Association.”

Locally and nationally, restaurants are still rallying after the shutdowns and subsequent effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Further, the District’s restaurant industry is undergoing more changes with the passing of Initiative 82 in November 2022, which gradually eliminates the tip credit for D.C’s. tipped employees.  By 2027, District employers must stop any use of tip credit and will be required to pay tipped workers the applicable minimum wage rate. Currently, the District’s minimum wage is $16.10 for all workers and $5.35 for tipped employees, but if hourly tip earnings do not equal the minimum age, employers must pay the difference.

As RAMW president, Townsend will be tackling the District’s developing restaurant industry. 

“Now as we continue the recovery path of rebuilding business, workforce and economic sustainability for operators of all sizes, especially in the wake of Initiative 82, we are confident that Shawn is the right leader for the job,” the RAMW Board chair said. 

Between growing up in the restaurant industry and his former positions, including working with RAMW as night mayor, Townsend said he’s ready to begin this new chapter.

 “Throughout the pandemic, I worked closely with RAMW to deliver much needed relief for the industry. Our restaurants have been critical to the dynamic growth of Washington, D.C. and the surrounding region,” Townsend said. “I am excited for the opportunity to build on those efforts at such an important moment with a talented team. I am looking forward to getting to work.”

Micha Green

WI Managing Editor Micha Green is a storyteller and actress from Washington, D.C. Micha received a Bachelor’s of Arts from Fordham University, where she majored in Theatre, and a Master’s of Journalism...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *