Washington’s Dupont Circle carries a lot of history within it’s “up-in-coming” neighborhood. BGR, a trendy DC burger chain, holds its own place within the chasm of change that was Dupont in the early 2000’s. Now an established place to get a quick bite to eat, the once townhouse occupies a prime location: situated right on the border of the circle’s infamous farmer’s market. BGR’s co-founder and owner, Butcher, describes the layout of the restaurant and previous motifs from the building’s function as a home; classic wallpaper, a filled-in coal chute, and brick stair patterns all occupy the now Burger Joint under PNC bank (Carman).
This third location holds significances in what it says about the Dupont area today. Once a residential neighborhood, the pricey hub now includes after-hours coffee bars, artisan restaurants, and of course, two Starbucks. In addition to BGR, google maps shows the addition of Shop House, likely around the same time. In her recent article, Laura Hayes explains the disparity that has come from this wave of fast-casual dining. She says, “There isn’t a millennial in sight, gabbing about the new cidery that opened in Truxton Circle or the line at Bad Saint” (Hayes). The addition of restaurants, such as BGR, is often seen to have a positive economic and social impact, but it’s clear that local businesses worry that “Dupont deni
zens are fleeing to trendier neighborhoods” (Hayes).
Historically, this area gained wealth and affluence in the late 1880’s with the construction of mansions for wealthy residents, such as Christian Heurich and Robert W. Patterson (United States). However, a majority of the houses are not for the rich but makes homes for professionals and “official Washingtonians.” Dupont Circle Historic says, “Two types of housing predominate in the historic district: palatial mansions and freestanding residences built in the styles popular between 1895 and 1910; and three-and-four-story rowhouses, many of which are variations on the Queen Anne and Richardsonian Romanesque Revival styles, built primarily before the turn of the century” (United States). But in 2016, these row houses turned restaurants don’t leave room or affordability for the m
Today, BGR doesn’t seem to be quite as trendy as it once was in 2009. A “millennial” myself, I was disappointed upon entering the quite average chain. Spending money on a mediocre burger as opposed to exploring new local joints, left me with regret. The space felt hollow – like the character was stripped with the wall paper. Although in a prime location to the metro and other Dupont businesses, the decline in residency and even hotels has left BGR, and even more so other restaurants, without much traffic.In large part, restaurants have scaled
back on hours and now rely on tourism for their income.
This stench f gentrification leaves locals forgotten under
the expenses of living. How can one afford to pay the electricity bill when a burger is $20? This cycle is perpetuated by the current influx of chains and tax hikes on property – literally pushing some out. What does it mean for BGR? That’s up to the public. Dupont is still a hub of excitement and within walking distance to Adams-Morgan, another popular spot of gentrification. BGR gives hope for the future – since 2009, the joint has remained strong, and the cyclical movement of people will likely be coming back around. Additionally, Dupont’s prime location to transport, food, and Embassy Row makes it an interesting area for young professionals and those who’re new to the area.
Carman, Tim. “A Really Early Look at BGR: The Burger Joint on Dupont Circle.” Washington City Paper, 17 Sept. 2009, http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/food/blog/13125947/a-really-early-look-at-bgr-the-burger-joint-on-dupont-circle.
United States. National Park Service. “Dupont Circle Historic District.” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/wash/dc50.htm.