The DMV was devastated after learning KitchenCray chef James Robinson’s popular D.C. restaurant was closing last year. Lucky for fans of the chef’s famous catfish and grits with jumbo lump crabmeat, Robinson has joined Capitol Square Bar & Grill as a partial owner and executive chef.
According to the DCist, Robinson is thrilled about this new chapter in his career.
“It’s going to be an excellent partnership,” he told DCist.
Capitol Square Bar & Grill’s co-owner Clayton Rosenberg told DCist that he invited Robinson to join him at the restaurant because of his inspiring life story.
“It’s showing our people that we have to stick together,” Rosenberg said of his new partnership with Robinson. “We have to support each other.”
Rosenberg shared that, like Robinson, he’s had difficulty being a Black restaurateur in his residential, gentrified neighborhood. Brian Alcorn, the vice-chair of Rosenberg’s advisory neighborhood commission, told DCist that several neighbors were concerned about the restaurant opening its doors as a DJ played inside the establishment. Rosenberg received noise complaints on more than one occasion. But he has prevailed and wants to see Robinson do the same. They plan to keep the music in the restaurant while ensuring it doesn’t carry outside the establishment.
Alcorn noted that Rosenberg hasn’t received a complaint since June.
Robinson isn’t intimidated by Robinson’s prior issues with the neighborhood. He told DCist it’s what comes with being a Black restaurant owner in a gentrified neighborhood.
But Robinson hopes that one day, the reality will be a thing of the past. He told DCist that he wishes D.C. officials would do more to eradicate the obstacles many Black bar and restaurant owners in the area face. In the meantime, he plans on pushing the KitchenCray brand forward, just not in D.C.
Robinson told DCist he’s bringing KitchenCray “where people will appreciate us.”
KitchenCray currently has locations in Lanham, Maryland and Alexandria, Virginia.