You may think the Box Bar and Grill, formerly known as a Hooters-style sports bar, would be an odd choice for a venue to host an event Friday that will feature state officials, civil rights leaders and members of the recently pardoned Wilmington Ten.
Allow us to explain.
In November of 2011, the Box opened on Old Georgetown Road with the tagline, “The Sexiest Wings in Bethesda.” The concept was to provide a sports bar that would rival Hooters, complete with "15 televisions and 31 scantily-clad waitresses in uniforms sponsored by Under Armour - think compression boy shorts with little referee shirts to go with them," the Washington Business Journal reported.
The Box concept was a bit out-of-the-box for buttoned-up Bethesda, and several Patch readers thought the bar clashed with the neighborhood’s family-friendly character.
The concept, apparently, was short-lived.
In December, the bar was bought by George Farrell, who is planning a top-to-bottom re-branding of the venture.
“The re-brand was necessary because the previous owner was doing a Hooters-style restaurant and we’re doing more of a family-oriented sports bar that will be comfortable for women and children,” Farrell told Patch. “It’s a totally different direction.”
Gone are the “Box Babes” and sexy tagline. While the name will stay on, the colors, signage, and menu are all new, Farrell said.
Farrell is re-launching the restaurant through a partnership with the Dry Fried Wing Company, which has recently launched a franchising program and has begun co-branding efforts with pizzerias and sports bars across the country.
The wings – known as the “San Francisco sensation” – will be highlighted on the new menu along with favorites like burgers, quesadillas and salads.
“We’re trying to bring great food to Bethesda at an affordable price,” said Farrell, who has run beach bars in Florida and restaurants in Costa Rica, Eater DC reported. “Everyone wants to be a five-star restaurant – we’re trying to do something that’s affordable, friendly and fun.”
The co-founder and chairman of the Dry Fried Wing Company is Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., a renowned civil rights leader, former executive director of the NAACP and leader of the Wilmington Ten, civil rights activists who were convicted in 1972 of a grocery store firebombing in Wilmington, NC and pardoned just days ago.
The Box is planning a Friday event that will not only re-launch the restaurant, but will feature Chavis, Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, and the six living members of the Wilmington Ten.
Chavis, Brown, Steele and Farrell are expected to speak about the economic benefits of the launch of the Dry Fried Wing Company in Maryland. Though Farrell is planning to expand into other markets like Alexandria and Prince George’s County, the Box will for now be the only place where the wings are available in the Washingon, DC region.
What do you think of the new concept for the Box? Tell us in the comments.