This Growing Members-Only Club Has the Best Chicken Wings in D.C.
On the lunch menu, they're called Wa' Bosh Wings, and on the dinner menu, Crispy Glazed Chicken Curry; both are made with a special recipe mixture of a rich and velvety sauce that will remind you of the motherland. Whether you've been to the continent of Africa is not the point, this curried chicken will take you there.
The H restaurant, named after its shape of a bar connecting two seating areas inside the Gathering Spot space, features American cuisine that weaves in influences from the African diaspora.
Just one year after the civil unrest that erupted on the streets of America as a result of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, some Black Americans are still leery about re-discovering restaurants and meeting gatherings, not for fear of a deadly disease but for fear of being unwanted or unable to be authentically themselves. This feeling of uncertainty became the fire that fueled the opening of The Gathering Spot DC, located at 1720 I St. NW, a prime location just one block from the Farragut West Metro Station.
Opening the doors of their first club in Atlanta, then in Washington, D.C., this year, with plans for an opening in LA this fall and, soon after, Detroit, The Gathering Spot is a concept offering its members a place to conduct business meetings over a meal, share strategies, or meet a new love interest. When it comes to safe spaces, they have hit a nerve.
Inside of the club is The H, a newly opened restaurant that takes menu suggestions from its members, with popular items including crispy curried potatoes, plantain grits, garlic rice, and fried chicken mushroom tacos. From the soft couches and desk cubicles to the lit bar stools and live music events, this members-only club provides a home away from home.
"I feel like everyone has a voice, regardless of whether you're searching for it or you haven't already locked into it," says executive chef Martel Stone. "Here at the H, I'm more willing to take chances because my job is specifically to please the members of the club. The members have a special connection with Caribbean cooking and West African cooking because it reminds them of a safe space."
The Gathering Spot started as a destination club for co-owners, Ryan Wilson and TK Petersen, undergraduate roommates at Georgetown University who had gone to law school and missed the comforts of being around other people of color.
"Between first and second year law school, I started to miss the diversity of people and thought about a space that I had appreciated in undergrad,'' says Wilson. "I saw that there was an opportunity to reinvent the private club model and I sent the idea to my college roommate, Petersen. And the idea for The Gathering Spot began."
"What's happened since then," Wilson continues, "is really a celebration of a tremendous people." What started as a small idea is now the largest city club in Atlanta, with a growing presence at its new Washington D.C. location and a Los Angeles and Detroit club in the works. In celebration of the D.C. opening, Wilson and Petersen not only threw a black-tie gala, but also chartered a Delta flight full of its founding Atlanta members to join in the opening festivities, with an all-Black flight crew including the plane's captain, first officer, and flight attendants.
The Gathering Spot is much more than just a place to meet, offering amenities like a daily complimentary breakfast daily, access to a 24/7 workspace, private conference rooms, an event space, culture talks, and live music performances.
Private clubs often speak to who members are as professionals; however, at The Gathering Spot, people can nourish different aspects of their lives. "The environment is very relaxed, but it's also super encouraging," says chef Stone.
Stone's favorite dish is curried chicken, so much so that he has it tattooed on his arm; that's why he had to include it on the menu. To his surprise and delight, he ended up collaborating on the dish with members of the club. "Normally when you think of curry, you think of a nice bright yellow sauce, but my members wanted to go in a different direction," he says. "I used a curried bean stew with a red sauce, which was accepted and loved. It taught me that it is ok to step outside of your comfort zone; there are people that will support and nurture you along the way."