Lead staff at DC Capitol Square Bar and Grill on East Capitol Street are Managing Partner and General Manager Clayton Rosenberg (left) and Folasade “Sade” Ogunfowora, who oversees compliance matters. They are in a private room at the restaurant that can be reserved. (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)
Lead staff at DC Capitol Square Bar and Grill on East Capitol Street are Managing Partner and General Manager Clayton Rosenberg (left) and Folasade “Sade” Ogunfowora, who oversees compliance matters. They are in a private room at the restaurant that can be reserved. (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)

The District’s dining game is adding additional notches with the opening of DC Capitol Square Bar and Grill. Located at 1500 East Capitol Street, the restaurant serves an eclectic combination of African, Caribbean and American offerings in a bright white and orange decorated establishment – you would never know that the digs are a former barber shop that was completely gutted.

“Having something that is Black-owned that you can give to a generation of people has been our number one goal,” said Clayton Rosenberg, managing partner and general manager. “It’s a family-oriented vibe with the uniqueness of international food and an ambiance that brings folks together.”

What’s On the Menu?

The full menu has a section called “Taste of Africa and Caribbean.” From Nigeria is a meat dish called suya, jollof rice, Nigerian pepper soup, and puff puff, which are light fluffy, deep-fried balls of dough. The Caribbean items on the menu include fish rolls, oxtails, plantain and egg stew, curry chicken, cassava leaves, plus so much more. The brunch menu has traditional American dishes like eggs benedict, chicken and waffles, omelets, grits, and avocado toast.

Soon DC Capitol Square will add African-inspired Suya pizza and sliders to the menu, again mixing cultures. There are also menus for breakfast and the weekend brunch.

During my recent visit, I sensed that the kitchen could accommodate whatever you are feeling. Two women sitting at the bar were having breakfast late on a Thursday afternoon.

On my first visit, which was for brunch, I had salmon with grits. The salmon was slightly overdone, but the grits were just the right consistency. On my second visit, I had the Capital Sq Jollof Rice made with tomatoes, scotch bonnets, onions and assorted spices. I admit that I could eat jollof rice every day. I topped my order with salmon that was prepared perfectly. I added an order of puff puff that came with a dipping sauce.

Creating An International Restaurant

An international group of backers supported the opening of DC Capitol Square, sharing favorite foods from their cultural background and travels. That is partly how the menu evolved.

“We asked how we can create food that makes individuals from around the world feel like it’s home?” said Rosenberg, a graduate of Eastern High School. “We have different chefs and cooks representing many nationalities. We want to be an international hub.”

The space at the restaurant is flexible. Upstairs can be rearranged for group functions or for music performances. Both upstairs and on the main street level of DC Capitol Square, there is a giant quad-screen television that creates a sports bar feel, but does not take away from the upscale, yet relaxed vibe.

A key member of the DC Capitol Square team is Folasade “Sade” Ogunfowora, who oversees compliance. She ensures the restaurant operates properly under every policy and guideline that applies to their restaurant. A Mass Communications graduate from University of Maryland Global Campus, Ogunfowora knows maintaining an error-free record allows for growth of the business. Her pride comes from the staff they have hired.

“Every staff member has a different background. They have different ideas, and we are very open,” said the Nigerian native raised in Prince George’s County. “We want to hire more folks for our team.”

A Restaurant for Everyone

Rosenberg would like future patrons to understand that DC Capitol Square is accessible to everyone. It is a place where political leaders, families, and members of nearby churches can feel comfortable. The restaurant has hosted an event for Eastern High School faculty.

Rosenberg has been making the rounds in the neighborhood to introduce the restaurant to the community. One neighbor is the National Guard Armory. DC Capitol Square is now certified to go inside the armory, so the restaurant has a mini pop-up eatery for the soldiers. In appreciation of the surrounding community, with proper identification, the restaurant offers discounts to teachers, military personnel and residents living in the neighborhood.

Rosenberg is an ANC 8F05 Commissioner who has worked in nonprofits.  He earned two master’s degrees, an MBA and a master’s in international business, from the University of Iowa. With the restaurant’s international group of backers, he feels well-equipped to grow DC Capitol Square.

Reservations for DC Capitol Square Bar and Grill can be made through Open Table. Visit the restaurant on Instagram @capitolsquarebar.

Brenda Siler is an award-winning journalist and public relations strategist. Her communications career began in college as an advertising copywriter, a news reporter, public affairs producer/host and a...

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