While this stretch of road manages to be the most corporate and, for obvious reasons, least directly political of the immediate branches of Dupont Circle, this sign caught my attention for several reasons. To preface this, I understand that most of Dupont Circle’s businesses target an upper-middle class clientele- the menu at Sweetgreen seems to hover around $10 for an entree, which is not bargain prices. But the exclusion of cash from their purchases says a lot about how they see themselves and their clientele. Despite it’s apparent dearth among the professional class in America, cash is likely not going anyway any time soon- many people still pay primarily by it. It says a lot for a corporation to say that the only patrons they want either have smart phones or debit cards- not to mention that they want you to use their own app. While I’m not sure whether this is politics, it’s sure got a lot of it clinging on.
Outdoor seating is an often underused amenity of any restaurants. While there are obvious reasons why many avoid them, it’s nice to have the option- and on this front, Beefsteak provides. While the weather on the day these were taken was not the best downtown, it nevertheless looked like an excellent option- if I could afford dining there that day, I likely would have sat here. The fact they provide it while others don’t can be chalked up to several reasons- a self-assigned higher importance, having more sidewalk space, or even laziness on their competitors’ part. Whatever the case, Beefsteak once again stands out from the group of three.
While I admit I am very easily surprised, this door was by far the biggest surprise of the back entrances here. While there’s nothing abnormal with having the business who occupies a space mark their back entrance (which makes navigation far easier), it’s quite abnormal for them to do as much advertising as BGR does. This is not to say this is completely pointless- undoubtedly the people who park here for work would likely have at least a passing interest in getting lunch at BGR’s establishment. Nevertheless, this is the first time I’ve ever scene a company use their rear entrance to advertise- whether it’s simply a smart move or a plea to potential customers.
One who has only seen the neo-classical, street facing facade of the PNC Bank build might be shocked when they come around to the parking lot on it’s rear, which seems to tell a far different story than it suggests. While I can’t say for certain, lacking access to the architects or high quality enough photography of the roof, it seems that the marble facade was retrofitted onto preexisting brick buildings, likely residential, in an effort to save money while keeping up appearances. It amazes me greatly that they were able to disguise this so easily, and perhaps says a lot about the area in general- gilded appearances over a mundane base.
While the exteriors of the stores are undoubtedly more relevant to this documentation, that does not mean a reflection on the architecture of the area at large is not important. Dupont Circle, like much of DC, is a heavily modern neighborhood growing in the often historical architecture of DC’s downtown areas. One need only consider things like a burger joint behind a marble facade to understand the enormously paradoxical and fascinating facts that encompass the neighborhood. I hope to be able to capture this through a handful of these photos, such as this one- a neoclassical fountain juxtaposed with the traffic driving around it and the commercial palaces of PNC Bank and it’s ilk just beyond.
While this Digital Archive set is meant to focus on the interiors, I felt it was important to explain the wider concept I’m exploring. This building, up until recently, was the home of four fast casual restaurants all on the same block- an incredibly questionable set up, though understandable with all of Dupont’s hustle and bustle. BGR itself is an incredibly uninteresting restaurant- a subpar burger joint with overly greasy food and the ability to confuse Dijon Mustard with barbecue sauce. Perhaps the only way to gleam more information is to examine the two remaining restaurants: Sweetgreen and Beefsteak. Perhaps even an examination of the final death of Chophouse is worth the time. There has to be some secret to why this stretch of land is worth fighting for customers on.
If you stop outside Kramerbooks and take a turn, you will get your first look at BGR, located in a subdivision of a former bank building, whose facade it inherits. Through some turn of fate it’s plot is bordered by two other ‘trendy’ chain restaurants- the DC-area Chipotle spinoff Chophouse and salad joint Sweetgreen. It’s a mostly unassuming exterior, maintaining identical fonts to its normal branding.