2 locations

District Elite

Fast Casual 2.0 brands that are helping turn Washington, D.C., into a new capital of restaurant innovation.

The G Street location of Astro Doughnuts, the newest breakfast fast casual in the D.C. metro area, is only a few blocks from the White House, tucked into a space so small you might miss it at first glance. But look twice; the square footage may be small, but the counter just behind the glass front doors is dishing out very big interpretations on two American favorites: doughnuts and fried chicken.

Elliot Spaisman and Jeff Halpern first opened Astro Doughnuts in 2013, hoping to re-create the classic doughnut shop they visited after hockey practice when they were growing up in nearby Bethesda, Maryland. But shortly after rolling out the doughnut concept—complete with creative options like the Maple Bacon and Crème Brulee doughnuts—they decided to expand the business’s potential with fried chicken and sandwiches that combine the chicken with doughnut buns.

“We thought it would be interesting to pair it with fried chicken—two classic American foods that needed a facelift,” Spaisman says. “They both had negative stigmas to them. And we’re using good-quality ingredients and making everything from scratch, which elevates it.”

Spaisman says D.C. has been the perfect market to launch Astro, representing a cross-section of several demographics. Even though real estate in the city is expensive and becoming harder to find with so much fast-casual demand, he says, the excitement for fast casual in the city—and the long lines that follow, especially in a location with virtually no dining room—gives a lift to new businesses like Astro.

Image Credit: Scott Suchman