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Celebrity Chef Kwame Onwuachi to Open Afro-Caribbean Restaurant in Washington D.C. Hotel Owned by America’s First Black-Woman Billionaire

Celebrity Chef Kwame Onwuachi to Open Afro-Caribbean Restaurant in Washington D.C. Hotel Owned by America’s First Black-Woman Billionaire
  • PublishedJanuary 30, 2024

Celebrated chef Kwame Onwuachi, renowned for his culinary ventures like Shaw Bijou and Kith/Kin in Washington D.C., as well as Tatiana in New York City, is embarking on an exciting new project. He is set to open an Afro-Caribbean restaurant called Dōgon inside the Black-owned Salamander Washington D.C. hotel. The restaurant’s inspiration draws from the 18th-century cartographer and mathematician, Benjamin Banneker, who played a significant role in mapping the borders of the District of Columbia using celestial observations. In a recent interview, Onwuachi expressed his fascination with Banneker’s influence on the city’s layout, highlighting his commitment to storytelling and the idea that everything with a story possesses a soul.

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR THE MAINE LOBSTER MARKETING COLLABORATIVE – Chef Kwame Onwuachi prepares Maine New Shell Lobster Pot Pie, along with The Shaw Bijou’s Greg Vakinar (left) and David Paz-Grusin (right) at a chef’s industry night, co-hosted with the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative on Monday, July 18, 2016, in Washington, D.C. The event was held for chefs throughout Washington, D.C. to learn more about the sustainability, heritage and culinary applications of Maine Lobster. For more information on Maine Lobster, visit (Photo by The Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative via AP Images)

Kwame Onwuachi, named “Rising Chef of the Year” by the James Beard Foundation in 2019, has strong ties to Washington D.C., considering it a second home due to his grandfather’s role as a professor at Howard University. While previously overseeing Shaw Bijou and later becoming the executive chef at Kith/Kin in 2017, Onwuachi voiced his desire to work in a Black-owned establishment, emphasizing that businesses benefiting from Black and brown communities should also be Black-owned.

In 2022, Sheila Johnson, owner of Salamander Properties, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET), and the first Black woman billionaire in the United States, collaborated with private equity firm Henderson Park to acquire the former Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Southwest D.C. for approximately $140 million. Onwuachi had been hosting the Family Reunion event, celebrating diversity and inclusion in the restaurant industry, at Salamander’s Middleburg, VA, property since 2021. When Johnson proposed the idea of opening a restaurant in her newly acquired hotel, Onwuachi was thrilled, highlighting the importance of the business being Black-owned from top to bottom.

While the restaurant’s menu is yet to be finalized, Onwuachi hinted at an astronomy-themed ambiance paying tribute to Banneker and a selection of dishes that will celebrate his Afro-Caribbean heritage while honoring the city’s rich history. Dōgon is expected to open its doors in spring 2024, offering patrons a unique culinary and cultural experience in the heart of Washington D.C.

This exciting venture by Chef Kwame Onwuachi underscores the significance of Black-owned businesses and their contributions to the culinary landscape and community empowerment. With its celestial inspiration and Afro-Caribbean flavors, Dōgon is poised to become a cultural and gastronomic landmark in the nation’s capital.

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