Saturday, January 25, 2020

Still Life with Robin: Bye-bye to BK's ET Boys, Jaws, Dinos, et al.

Photo by Peggy Robin
by Peggy Robin

I can’t post on the topic I’m about to take on without admitting that yes, my tastes do occasionally take me to our local Burger King. There are times I like a Whopper and fries. And now that they’re offering the plant-based Impossible Burger, I can even grab a fast-food lunch without feeling quite so guilty about my carbon footprint (carbon hoofprint?) See, they’ve kept up with the times!

But in one way it seems that time has stood still for our old BK on Connecticut Avenue (just next door to the car wash). The décor inside – featuring models and artworks from movies like E.T., Jaws, Jurassic Park – is all such a great throwback -- no, tribute! -- to the ‘70s and ‘80s. Waiting in the line inside, you look up to see the three kids from E.T. flying over your head on their BMX bikes. And then crashing out from a wall there’s the gaping, jagged-toothed threat of Jaws. Look to the opposite wall to see yet another familiar Spielbergian menace in the form of a grinning, green T-Rex head. Then wander down to the lower level dining area to find yourself a table amid classic rock-n-roll guitars in acrylic display cases, surrounded by glowing neon tubes. Framed posters and cut-outs of other movie classics complete the visual nostalgia feast to go with the quick comfort food.
Photo by Peggy Robin

But then there are the other, far less thrilling reminders of the age of the place: the peeling paint, the dented trim, the creaking systems.

It’s long past time for a renovation, and now we’ve learned that the place is getting a total makeover, inside and out. As reported by Martin Austermuhl on DCist/WAMU, everything will go. The good and the bad. The fun movie memorabilia is headed for the storage locker.

Now, if this were in Cleveland Park, instead of Van Ness, you would be thinking, “Surely someone has filed with the Historic Preservation Review Board by now to landmark the interior!” Ironically,, the only lawsuit associated with the site was the one filed in 1980 to try to prevent it from opening in the first place. According to Martin Austermuhl’s report, there was “a lawsuit that made it all the way to the D.C. Court of Appeals — ultimately failed to stop the Burger King.”

Photo by Peggy Robin
The BK opened in 1980, and most likely acquired its movie-themed décor in 1997. If you want to see it all before it’s gone, you had better visit soon. The DCist story did not give a date for the removal, but sometimes when there are big changes afoot, things are done suddenly, before anyone has time to think of a way to stop it. So go now….or be content to view the photos at: -- plus a few I took myself.

Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.   

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