The Capitol Square steakhouse Rare is expanding to the nation's Capitol, opening a third location there, two short blocks from the White House.
Jack and Julie Sosnowski, who run Noble Chef Hospitality, opened the Madison location at 14 W. Mifflin St., in 2014. They expanded to Milwaukee in June 2016, and will open the D.C. location Oct. 1, Jack Sosnowski said.
The D.C. restaurant, 1595 I St. NW, or at 16th and I (the letter "I"), will be 9,500 square feet on two levels, including a more casual, 49-seat tavern on the ground floor. In all, the restaurant will seat 337. The chef there will be Marc Hennessy from another D.C. steakhouse, BLT Steak.
Rare in D.C. will also be the exclusive caterer for a new top-floor event space on the ninth floor, Sosnowski said, noting that the White House is visible from there and "seems a lot closer than two blocks."
Because of the Capitol building and the politics of D.C., Sosnowski said the area reminds him a lot of Madison, where he opened his first Rare Steakhouse right across from the Wisconsin Capitol.
"This is a great opportunity. We're really excited and I love D.C.," said Sosnowski, who has fond memories of traveling with his father to the nation's capital as a boy when his father would go for business.
"It's bringing back a lot of great memories," he said.
Sosnowski plans to be in D.C. at least twice a month once the restaurant is open. "There's a direct flight from Madison that's not too bad. It's fairly easy to get here," he said.
This is the seventh project for Noble Chef Hospitality. Besides the two -- soon to be three -- Rare Steakhouses, Noble Chef Hospitality also runs the Ivory Room Piano Bar, Buck and Badger, Wisconsin Brewing Tap Haus and Freiburg Gastropub.
In terms of which Rare restaurant does better, Madison or Milwaukee, Sosnowski said it's pretty even.
"Our business has really grown in Madison the last two years," he said. "Obviously, Milwaukee being a large metropolitan area helps, but they are really neck and neck. They both perform great and we are really overwhelmed by the reception in Milwaukee. We expect the same in D.C."
Sosnowski said his D.C. landlord, Laborers' International Union of North America, LiUNA, was looking for the right restaurant partner and sent secret shoppers to the Madison Rare location.
"We were honored they were considering us," he said. "They were really looking more for the quality of the product over the size of the company, so we were a great fit for them. And when the opportunity came, we really couldn't pass it up."