From Dorms to the District: How Insisting on Excellence Helped Swizzler Open a Second Store

Congratulations are in order to Swizzler, one of DC’s favorite burger and hot dog food trucks and now fast casual spot. Swizzler opened their first brick and mortar location in Navy Yard, Washington, DC, across from Nationals Park. Those in the Navy Yard area - or really anyone in DC - should look forward to getting the same delicious, all-American eats that made Swizzler a local favorite. Opening a fast casual spot is no small task, and this exciting new development shows just how far Jesse Konig and Ben Johnson, the Swizzler founding duo, have come since their college days. 

For the uninitiated, Swizzler is a local fast casual spot that aims to promote a sustainable business model without sacrificing quality. Founded by two college friends, the local business has managed to build itself a solid following in the DC area. Thanks to their high-quality ingredients, including grass-fed beef and locally-sourced, preservatives-free buns, the people of the DMV area have consistently flocked to their food trucks. Even just scrolling through their Instagram gets people hungry, as they see the crazy good looking burgers, fries, and hot dogs. Their insistence on excellence and customer-first attitude has paid off and enabled them to expand once again. Of course, it’s impossible to appreciate their development without knowing where they came from.

The story of Swizzler begins in North Carolina at Wake Forest University, where founders Jesse Konig and Ben Johnson were classmates. Looking to earn credit for an entrepreneurship class project, the two began to sell hotdogs around campus. As it turned out, the students of Wake Forest loved it! Realizing they had something special going, the young entrepreneurs abandoned their previous plans for careers in corporate finance and invested their energy into building what would become Swizzler. After graduating in May of 2014, Jesse and Ben moved to the District and launched their business with the help of Union Kitchen in October of the same year. Since then, Swizzler has sold their product in two food trucks and launched a line of packaged fries

Of course, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. As with all businesses, there were a few bumps along the way. Jesse and Ben even openly acknowledge that there was a steep learning curve during the first few days of operating their food truck. The two were caught off guard by the difficulty of juggling rapid-fire orders from customers in a timely manner. 

“In a food truck, you need to serve a day's worth of guests in a very short window of time in very tight quarters,” they shared during an interview with Union Kitchen. “Our food has always been cooked-to-order, which can get pretty tough with a line down the block.”

Fortunately, these early and hard fought lessons learned positioned the team for future success. Business is all about learning, executing, and then learning more.

“We learned how important it is to keep your menu simple while still offering enough variety to keep people coming back,” the team shared in the same interview. “We learned a lot about building a team of leaders who are responsible for their team and putting out 10 star experiences for our guests, especially when you're trying to run multiple events all over the city on a given day”.

So the next time you’re looking for something quick to grab, be sure to give Swizzler a try. Their high-quality ingredients and their simple, yet tasty menu options will leave you satisfied and happy. You can also order from them online and at Union Kitchen locations. Meanwhile, to read more about Swizzler and stories like them, be sure to check out the blog page on the Union Kitchen website.

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