The Eritrean Cultural & Civic Center was originally founded in 1989 in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, DC. It served as a center of Eritrean cultural life in the city, and hosted nearly every Eritrean official who visited Washington. Inside, it looked like a men’s club, but the cafeteria was open for all to enjoy, serving delicious ethnic food. As customers enjoy their meals, soap operas play on mounted televisions.
The Civic Center has also, in the past, come under some scrutiny. In 2004, the location was raided as part of an effort to reduce the amount of money illegally sent overseas. On June 30, 2006, Kasetbrhan M. Keleta was found guilty of operating an illegal money transmitting business out of the center, having wired more than $8 million to locations such as Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Kenya.
Although the original location closed in early 2016, the ECCC has opened a new location located closer to DuPont Circle. This is only a temporary location, and the ECCC has now become a members-only club.