Agora, which translates to “a gathering place” in the Aegean Region, is the go to Mediterranean oasis of Washington DC. Agora opened its doors to the Dupont Circle Neighborhood in May 2010. Executive Chef Ghassan Jarouj brings an all-small plates menu offering a variety of eclectic flavors taken from dishes inspired by the cuisine’s of Turkey, Lebanon and Greece. In addition to its versatile food menu, Agora offers an extensive selection of international wine, locally crafted & Mediterranean beers, unique cocktails and the lion’s milk of the Mediterranean, Raki. Agora’s wine menu has been a winner of the Wine Spectators “Award of Excellence” every year, since 2010.
ABOUT THE CHEF: GHASSAN JARROUJ
Born and raised in Zahle, Lebanon, Executive Chef Ghassan Jarrouj brings 48 years of culinary expertise preparing Mediterranean cuisine. He has served as Executive Chef of the authentic Lebanese restaurant Sitti in Raleigh, North Carolina. Jarrouj’s career also includes working in various kitchens on both coasts including La Rue, a four-time Silver Spoon winning restaurant in San Francisco. Additionally, he served as the personal chef for three US ambassadors to Lebanon in Beirut from 1987 to 1996. In recent years, Jarrouj served as executive chef in two of Washington’s most elite Mediterranean kitchens: Neyla from 2000 to 2006, and Taverna Kefi in Wheaton, Maryland.
ABOUT THE OWNER : ISMAIL USLU
Born in the quaint, now-tourism town of Fethiye, Turkey, Ismail Uslu grew up on the family farm which rested on the mountains overlooking the Mediterranean Coast. From a young age, Uslu spent his days helping his parents with the daily productions and sales of their farm grown Pine honey, olive oil and home-made cheese.
After he graduated high school, Uslu began his 11 year hospitality career at Lykia World Hotel and Holiday Resort, a first class, five star hotel in Fethiye, Turkey. To advance his knowledge of the industry, and the Lykia business concept, he worked in each and every department of the hotel from housekeeping to front desk services. After an extensive 2 year training, he became the full-time bartender from which he built his reputation to becoming the Head Sommelier and Bar Supervisor for Lykia Restort. His most notable achievement at Lykia, was the implementation of the VIP Butler services where exclusive members were provided individualized VIP concierge services during their stay. During the development of his career at Lykia, Uslu continued his learning by attending the University of Anatolia and earning his Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism and Hospitality.
In 2008, Uslu was invited by the Starwood Group as the Outlets Manager at the Westin in Alexandria, Virginia. In 2009, he accepted a consulting position with Glad, LLC, to oversee the construction of MASA14. After the completion and opening of MASA14, he began working on a new restaurant project, Agora. After 3 years dedicating his time and implementing his experience to building the restaurant, he took the leap of faith and became the sole owner of Agora Restaurant.