With a helping hand, chef James Robinson has secured part-ownership in Capitol Square Bar & Grill following the closing of his own restaurant in Washington, DC.
Blavity reports that Clayton Rosenberg, Capital Square’s managing partner and general manager, presented Robinson with the opportunity after learning about his story.
In August 2023, Robinson closed his Cajun and Caribbean soul food restaurant as a result of gentrification and unreasonable demands from the neighborhood and city officials, according to DCist. He currently still operates two locations in Lanham, MD, and Alexandria, VA.
“I’m upset because they’re treating us so unfairly,” Robinson expressed to DC station WUSA9.
Fortunately for the chef, when one door closed for him, a new one — located at 1500 East Capitol St NE, Washington, DC — swung open.
Robinson is already active at the restaurant and leading the kitchen as executive chef.
“It’s showing our people that we have to stick together,” Rosenberg said, according to Blavity. “We have to support each other.”
Robinson told DCist/WAMU Radio, “It’s going to be an excellent partnership.”
Beyond the opportunity, what also attracted Robinson was the restaurant’s impact in the community. Rosenberg is active in the Alliance of Concerned Men, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that works to decrease juvenile crime and prevent violence.
Dr. Ogay Irono and Emmanuel Irono, who also have ownership in the restaurant, are focused on helping the community as well and have created a nonprofit that provides services to those experiencing poverty.
Looking ahead, the restaurant co-owners say they are continuing their impact, while reimagining news ways to enhance their vision for the local area. Soon, customers can expect to see more Caribbean soul food integrated into their menu including jerk chicken. Additionally, crowd favorite and African staple puff puff will remain on their menu as they work to streamline their offerings.
“I’d like people to come in and enjoy our culture. I just hope that they can support that and understand what we’re doing,” Robinson explained, according to DCist/WAMU.