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“Never lose sight of your vision”! Chef Kwame Onwuachi is Bouncing Back after “The Shaw Bijou” Failure



Kwame Onwuachi | Photo Credit: Twitter – @ChefKwame

About five months after his first restaurant endeavour The Shaw Bijou in Washington D.C, failed, Chef Kwame Onwuachi, 27 is bouncing back!

“Thank you everyone for your continued support. The time has come to open my new place, here in D.C. It’s never easy getting back up, but it’s necessary. #cheers,” he wrote on Instagram.

He tells The Washinton Post that he’ll be opening the restaurant in the InterContinental Hotel at the Wharf later this year.

He refused to talk about the timing saying “I don’t want to say something and change my mind.”

Onwuachi received a vote of confidence after his stint at “Top Chef” where he finished sixth out of 17 contestants in 2016.

Kelly Gorsuch of Gorsuch Holdings, the principal owner of The Shaw Bijou, at the time the business closed down, said he saw himself as a silent investor, providing the capital for first-timers chef Onwuachi and general manager Greg Vakiner to build and run the high-concept restaurant they had been planning for years.

Onwuachi, who was featured on Fobers’ 30 Under 30 for Food and Drinks in 2017, around the same time his restaurant closed, was criticised for being too young and inexperienced to open an ambitious restaurant as that at the time.

A dinner for two cost $1,000 and includes a 13-course tasting menu, which would take diners on a journey through a converted townhouse.

On January 3, 2017, The Shaw Bijou slashed its prices and its offerings and rolled out a seven-course, $95 tasting menu, but the business folded up weeks later.

View this post on Instagram

And so it begins. Don't stop… Ever.

A post shared by Kwame Onwuachi (@bastedmind) on

On how he feels after the experience, he said: “I did something, and it was critiqued, and that’s what happens when you put yourself out there.”

After Shaw Bijou closed, Onwuachi did a lot of events with some chefs and also traveled “just to get some inspiration.”

“Travel always opens your eyes, it always influences your cooking, and it’s a direct lens into someone’s culture,” he said.

He disclosed that much of the history of Washington D.C will influence his new project.

“There’s a lot of lessons learned from the last restaurant. The thing I take away the most is to never lose sight of your vision and your dreams. It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get back up that count.… I think I’m a testimony to that. I want to carry that into this next project,” he says.

Onwauchi’s first foray into food was working for his mother’s catering business. Years later, and with a CIA degree under his belt, he cut his teeth in the world of fine dining at Per Se and Eleven Madison Park.

Photo Credit: Twitter – @ChefKwame


  1. FasholasLover

    June 27, 2017 at 11:42 pm

    $1000? Business lesson No1, Do not be so “”Niche” that you niche yourself out of the market. People who spend that kind of dosh on just one meal will only do so if it is owned by a celebrity like themself just to belong and be seen. Good luck with the new restaurant.

    • Jezebel

      June 28, 2017 at 2:20 am

      ?? what Fasholaslover said.

    • tell em

      June 28, 2017 at 11:26 am

      @fasholalover..your comment is spot on

  2. Baby gurl

    June 27, 2017 at 11:55 pm

    Oh my. I remember when he was about to open the restaurant. I read his interview via a LinkedIn link I think. He was so excited. I was amazed that someone that young had the courage to take on such a big deal. It was amazing. I’m sad to see it didn’t work out as planned. Just like he said tho, on to the next one. No shaking. He’s def learned a few lessons here and there and I guess to an extent he knows what and what not to do. My business school lecturer used to tell us that the restaurant biz is one of the top 3 trickiest businesses to get into. No amount of business planning or funding can save it if the stars are not aligned in your favor. I personally think the trick is great location, great food and a price point that matches both the quality of the food and location.Also reservation logistics, timing, food presentation and ambiance. Excited to hear about his new kitchen at the Intercontinental. Good luck with this one. The sky is just your starting point.

  3. Nene

    June 28, 2017 at 12:05 am

    The restaurant failed before it even took off. In times like these, ppl won’t spend on an overpriced menu. Hope he’s learned a few lessons from this

  4. June

    June 28, 2017 at 7:04 am

    $1000 ???? Wow !!! Really bruh???? Clap for yourself . Hope your new restaurant is REASONABLE PRICED this time around.

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