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Style & Living Top Chef

Kwame Onwuachi Shares How His D.C. Restaurant Has Changed Since Reopening

After shuttering Kith/Kin for three months, the Top Chef alum is back in business — but it's hardly business as usual. 

By Jenny Berg
Where Are They Now?: Top Chef's Kwame Onwuachi

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced D.C. restaurants to shutter temporarily back in March, Kwame Onwuachi's eatery Kith/Kin was among the affected businesses.

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"It was tough," the Bravo's Top Chef alum told Vogue in a recent interview. "Not having the answers was the hardest part of it all. Not knowing when people would come back. Not knowing how people were going to take care of themselves in the absence of work."

By June 5, in compliance with the Phase 1 ReOpen D.C. plan, Kwame was allowed to reopen his Afro-Caribbean restaurant at a 25 percent capacity and with outdoor dining only. So, though the chef is back in business, it's hardly business as usual. 

In an effort to social distance, "I can't get close to anyone," Kwame explained. The restaurant has taken other measures to help prevent the spread of the virus, including  offering electronic menus, delivering napkins and straws in Ziploc bags, and having guests retrieve their own plates from trays set up near their tables.

"It takes away the feeling of hospitality a little bit," the chef shared. "Some people are frustrated that we’re taking all these precautions, but it’s necessary to keep our staff and guests safe as well as to continue to flatten the curve." 

Kwame predicts that the safety measures will be in place until there's a vaccine for COVID-19, but he's prepared for a new normal on the other side of the pandemic. "Going back to the old way shouldn’t be the goal," he said. "The goal should be to change, making sure that everyone is included in the conversation of cooking and serving."

For the latest, most accurate information on coronavirus, go to the World Health Organization (WHO) website.

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