Swizzler, the D.C. food truck known for environmentally conscious versions of American cookout classics, opened its first standalone restaurant location today (Friday, November 6) in Navy Yard.
The new store (1259 First Street SE) sells takeout only to start, catering to a pandemic-era audience with a shortened menu, low prices, and technology to assist contactless ordering. Swizzler opens from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week (closed Mondays).
Swizzler announced it was moving into Navy Yard just days before the COVID-19 crisis led the city to shut down on-site dining in mid-March. Widespread restrictions delayed a plan to open in time for Major League Baseball’s opening day.
Originally, Swizzler planned to sell its full gamut of spiral-cut hot dogs, grass-fed beef smashed burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, and fries cooked in non-GMO sunflower oil. Instead, Swizzler will focus on a condensed menu of burgers and fries.
Pillowy bread from Pop’s Buns in Northeast hold grass-fed beef patties sourced from Joyce Farms, a regenerative agriculture co-op in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Single cheeseburgers that are described as a “snack” start at $3.89 before add-ons. Doubles that weigh just over a quarter-pound are $5.99, and a bacon cheddar burger with candied jalapenos is $9.89. For a $3.85 charge, customers can add fries and a drink to burgers. Streamlining the takeout menu helped keep prices “crazy” low, co-owner Jesse Konig says.
“We are trying to give people as much value as possible ... and save extra cash with everything going on” he says. “You can come here for an amazing meal for $10.”
A pair of meat-free options includes the “Livin on the Veg” — a sweet potato and tahini burger with avocado, arugula, shallot, dill pickle, and “viva” sauce — and a seasonal beet burger with goat cheese, candied jalapenos, arugula, shallot, and sauce.
A roll-up garage door serves as a takeout window at what would have been an outdoor seating area. In a few weeks, Swizzler will add 10 lockers where customers can grab pickup orders in a way similar to Amazon’s pickup points.
“By doing that we can really double down on the future of fast food — real food, real fast,” Konig says. “It’s relevant to COVID times but will be awesome for baseball season for grabbing burgers and fries.”
At the counter, the shop also plans to add kiosks with touchscreen ordering that will further reduce interactions with staff.
Neighborhood customers will have a hard time recognizing the former location of a Taylor Gourmet sandwich shop. Hanging pendant lights adds to a whimsical look from designer Natalie Park (Anju, Dos Mamis, Gravitas) that plays up bright white and blue tones from Swizzler’s trucks.
“There’s beautiful blue booths people will sit in eventually,” Konig syas.
The popular fast-casual corridor also includes locations for Indian bowls from Rasa, Mediterranean wraps from Roti, salads from Chopt’d, and Chipotle burritos. Swizzler will compete with Five Guys and Shake Shack nearby.
The Swizzler truck that started it all six years ago will continue operating as a sibling venture that focuses on its original speciality: hot dogs.
“We see this as an opportunity to make it a sister concept with its own identity — a gourmet hot dog truck active in Navy Yard,” Konig says.
The truck got its start on the grounds of the founders’ alma mater, Wake Forest University, in Winston-Salem. Over the years the brand expanded from colorful dogs with pun-filled names like “Leonardo Dog Vinci” to gourmet burgers and a popular presence at local farmers markets.
“We’ve learned a lot and now we’re excited to make it come to life in its own space,” Konig says.