From LEDC Client to Michelin Star: Causa's Quick Rise to Stardom

In the heart of Washington, D.C.'s Blagden Alley, Causa, a gastronomic gem has been making waves since its grand opening in May 2022. This Peruvian fine dining establishment, led by the visionary Chef Carlos Delgado, has not only brought the flavors of Peru to the nation's capital but has also elevated the culinary scene with its fresh philosophy. In its young life, Causa has already achieved significant milestones, with the biggest one being recognized with a Michelin star this past fall. What sets Causa apart is that it is the first D.C.-based Peruvian establishment to earn a star led by a Peruvian owner and chef.

Chad Spangler, one of the partners of Causa alongside Glendon Hartley, shared insights into the restaurant's mission. "We wanted to highlight the incredible diversity of Peruvian food here in D.C.," he explained. "The aim is to teach people what Peruvian food really is, not just serve it." Spangler alluded that Causa is not simply a dining destination, but an educational experience, offering a genuine representation of the vast food scene in Peru.

Housed in a two-story space, the location offers a distinct culinary experience on both floors. The first floor, Causa, focuses on coastal and Andean fine dining, while the second floor, Amazonia, explores the flavors of the Amazon with a more casual approach, providing a comprehensive representation of Peruvian cuisine. Beyond the food, the authenticity of the atmosphere is heightened by art directly from Peru, creating an immersive experience for diners.

Photo via Instagram @causadc_

The journey to success was not without its challenges, however. In March 2020, Causa found itself in a tailspin when banks rescinded their support as the world braced itself for a global pandemic. That is when Causa started looking at all of the financial options available, before landing at the Latino Economic Development Center—a key player in helping Causa navigate through their financial uncertainties.

Spangler emphasized the pivotal role LEDC played, stating, "if it weren't for the financial impact that LEDC had, Causa more than likely wouldn't have ever opened."

LEDC provided Causa with two loans back in 2021, a lifeline that allowed the restaurant to weather the storm. As is often the case, traditional financing options proved to be less flexible and risk-averse, making LEDC's support crucial. Spangler noted that "[CDFI’s] like LEDC are incredibly instrumental to make sure that businesses like Causa, and local entrepreneurs have true access to resources when they otherwise wouldn't."

In the eyes of Causa's team, LEDC's willingness to connect on a deeper, more personal level set them apart. "LEDC has the willingness to listen to someone's story and really connect on a deeper, more personal level than simply talking money," Spangler acknowledged.

As Causa continues to take the local food scene by storm, it stands as a testament to the power of passion, perseverance, and community support. This Peruvian culinary experience not only brings the flavors of Peru to D.C., but also serves as an inspiration for aspiring restaurateurs with a vision beyond the ordinary.