Scott Layne comes to The Black Squirrel after being the manager of Clarks Shoes in Pentagon City.
The Summit, N.J., native previously served as a manager of a Sharper Image store in Annapolis, Md.
Layne, who lives in Adams Morgan, follows the fortunes of the New York Yankees, New York Jets and New York Knicks. He also hits the neighborhood tennis courts. Layne was a ranked junior player in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area and the leading player on his Summit High School tennis team.
I think The Black Squirrel attracts people from the neighborhood who want to dine and interact with each other, as opposed to just going out and partying hard,” Layne says.
Layne likes to travel, hit the beach in the summer months and golf.
Bill O’Connell made the crossover to The Black Squirrel after heading the security of the previous establishment since 2005. The Oceanside, Calif., native also spent three years in security at Adams Mill Bar and Grill and is part of the “Black Squad” security detail during the popular Adams Morgan Day Festival each year. O’Connell, an Arlington resident, is a fixture at The Black Squirrel on the weekend, when he is the eyes of the place and in charge of providing a safe, hospitable environment.
We have a very relaxed and chilled atmosphere,” O’Connell says. “I think people come to our place knowing they can have a great time and not face the issues that sometimes plague other establishments.
O’Connell is a 1999 graduate of King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., where he earned a B.A. degree in Spanish. O’Connell competed on the varsity soccer and track and field teams at the Field School in the District. He follows the fortunes of D.C. United and the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders. O’Connell also enjoys hiking, kickball, shooting pool and visiting museums. He plays in a Capitol Hill kickball league called NAKID (No, Adult Kickball Isn’t Dumb). He has varied interests in music and movies.
Gene Sohn, a Silver Spring resident, landed at The Black Squirrel in Adams Morgan after serving three years as Chef de Tournade at Marcel’s in downtown Washington, D.C. Sohn jumped at the chance to bring a unique dining experience to Adams Morgan, one of the more densely populated neighborhoods in the city that serves as a hot spot for weekend partygoers.
We endeavor to deliver a fun, comfortable, family atmosphere that connects with the neighborhood,” Sohn says. “We want our patrons to feel at home in our establishment and have an experience that prompts their return.
The French-trained chef has an extensive background in the restaurant industry, dating to 1987. He previously spent four year as a chef and part-owner at Saveur in Glover Park. He also spent five years as a charcuterie buyer with Dean & DeLuca in Manhattan and the District. Sohn attended the University of Maryland and is a die-hard supporter of the Dallas Cowboys. Try not to hold the latter against him. One of his best friends is Jack, an 80-pound German shepherd that loves to chase his tail and has a 17th Street restaurant named after him in Dupont Circle. Sohn takes great care with his menu, right down to the hand-ground Hereford beef. “We use fresh, local products as much as possible,” he says. “We use sustainable, organic fish, meat and poultry.” Sohn often steps out of the kitchen to mingle with the diners and establish a rapport, as if you are visiting someone’s home.
Amy Bowman, a native of Houston, Texas, has lent her interior-design touch to The Black Squirrel. She oversaw the renovations and chose the ’60’s-’70’s theme that is captured in the wall hangings and back-to-the-future atmosphere.
It was her vision that led to the naming of The Black Squirrel in honor of the ubiquitous creature that overwhelms many neighborhoods in the city. Bowman tells the story of black squirrels feasting on the tomato plants in her backyard in Glover Park, of being both annoyed and amused as they carted away the treats just as they were starting to ripen. Armed with a plethora of ideas, Bowman committed to the research.
We took a hard look at the demographics of Adams Morgan and the 18th Street commercial strip and thought the neighborhood would like what we have to offer,” she says. “We wanted a bar area that has a neighborhood feel to it and we wanted to offer good cuisine. Judging from the feedback we have received, I think our customers like what we have done.
Bowman earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in history at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif. She also obtained an M.B.A. degree from the Peter F. Drucker School of Management at the Claremont Graduate University near Los Angeles. Bowman served two years as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in Glover Park. Bowman counts the Hakeem Olajuwon-led Houston Rockets as one of her all-time favorite sports teams and likes to garden in her spare time.