Enlightened Hospitality Group, Brian Malarkey’s San Diego-based company behind the Top Chef’s empire of fabric-themed restaurants like Searsucker, Gingham, Garbardine, and Herringbone, is grand-opening a new project this Sunday named “Olubugo” after the Kingada term for “barkcloth.” That’s because the restaurant is located in Enttebe, Uganda, quite a ways from the chef’s homebase. Teamed with AidChild, an organization intent on providing care for orphans afflicted with the AIDS virus in the notoriously intolerant nation, Malarkey and his chief collaborator, James Brennan, have entirely funded the opening, which will donate all proceeds, minus operation costs, to the non-profit group.
Though Malarkey had nothing to do with the menu itself here, it is still a chef-driven restaurant in its own right. With a solar-powered water heater, bulked up police protection for the debut, olubugu-wrapped walls, and sufficient power backup to combat frequent blackouts, Olubugo combines rotating works from African artists, live music, an international staff of volunteers, locally handmade furniture, and continental and Ugandan cooking (plus the region’s favored stick-food barbecue, called muchomo, cooked on an outdoor sundeck) under chef Frank Kwesiga.
We’d say hats off the to the chef and his staff for doing such a great, positive thing for Ugandans in need, but we know the man loves his chapeau too much to part with it. Either way, here’s hoping he brings a taste of Ugandan muchomo to San Diego one of these days, as this place already sounds pretty cool.