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The colorful tones and playlist at Sushi by Bao evokes the disco era.

Sushi by Bou turns dormant hotel rooftop into lucrative micro restaurant

citizenM Washington D.C. Capitol hotel adds omakase concept set to a disco beat

Activating underutilized space is music to the ears of most hotel operators, and in the case of the citizenM Washington D.C. Capitol hotel, that music is set to a disco beat.

Though the rooftop of the hotel previously featured a cloudM food and beverage outlet with limited space, it had been closed for some time. So, citizenM partnered with Sushi by Bou (by New York City-based hospitality group, Simplevenue) to launch the latter’s newest location on April 25 atop citizienM Washington D.C. Capitol hotel. The new rooftop restaurant is disco-themed and offers high-end omakase menus.

“We have a fantastic relationship with the citizenM team,” Simplevenue CEO Erika London said. “Sushi by Bou specializes in turning underutilized spaces into revenue-generating sushi counters. Seeing a space like the rooftop and the potential behind it, it seemed like a perfect opportunity for us. We also love the aesthetic and vibe that citizenM does such a great job of creating.”

Guests can choose between a 12-course sustainable fish menu for $60 or a 17-course “Bou-gie" upgrade for $125, which includes the classic 12 courses complemented by five additional seasonal courses, a hand roll, and a complimentary welcome sake. The omakase concept serves as a contrast to the hotel’s other dining option, canteenM, which focuses on casual comfort foods and grab-and-go items.

Sushi by Bou is known as a micro concept and that only seats eight to 12 guests per session.

“That means we’re at full capacity for omakase with only about a dozen guests,” Simplevenue COO Dan Zelkowitz said. “In this location's case, we're at capacity at the counter at 10 seats. A micro restaurant means we have a small team operating out of a small space creating a memorable dining experience.”

Featured menu items include hamachi (yellowtail), botan ebi (spotted prawn), ikura (salmon roe), hotate (scallop), o-toro (fatty tuna), unagi (barbecue eel), and Sushi by Bou’s signature wagyuni (surf and turf). Hand rolls and other sushi favorites utilizing fresh fish sourced locally and globally are available upon request, along with additional à la carte specialties and seasonal mochi ice cream for dessert.

"One of the best-selling items guests love is the Big Mac,” said London. “This is an à la carte piece that guests can order after their omakase that includes seared wagyu, scallop, otoro, and uni. We like challenging people who order it to eat the piece in one bite. It’s decadent and delicious.”

On the drinks menu, the Yuzu Honey Bee is one of the best-selling cocktails, utilizing a signature bourbon blend in partnership with Maker’s Mark.

“The yuzu pairs perfectly with our menu and the bourbon has a short finish, meaning it doesn't linger on the palate very long or overpower the delicate taste of our sushi,” London said.

The D.C. location of Sushi by Bou evokes the disco era, as guests enter the space from an elevator through a dimly lit entryway illuminated by multihued lights, leading to a lounge area featuring a black ceiling adorned with three large disco balls. Additionally, the funky light fixtures, a lush greenery wall, pop art accents, neon signage and an eclectic mix of furniture and pillows surround the space as upbeat dance tracks play.

“[citizen] already had a great collection of pop art on premise, so it seemed like a natural extension of their brand and design for us to move forward with the disco theme,” Zelkowitz said.

With the launch of the D.C. rooftop location of Sushi by Bou still fresh, Simplevenue has a few tweaks in mind already, including offering some drink options for larger groups. Unlike typical Sushi By Bou locations, in which the group is working with about 500 square feet of space or less, the citizenM rooftop is much larger.

“Because we have such a great space to work out of with a view of the Capitol that is unmatched, guests want to stick around for a while, and we definitely want to give them reason to do so,” London said.

Tad Wilkes is a writer and editor in the hotel food and beverage industry.

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