As American as baseball, hot dogs, and the DC-3
Pilot, restaurateur's new venue celebrates venerable taildragger
Mark Neal of Kensington, Md., loves aviation, and he particularly loves Douglas DC-3s. So it only made sense that Neal and his brother, a chef and longtime business partner, would name their newest restaurant after the fabled airplane.
Next month Neal and brother Ty will open DC-3, a 20-seat eatery in Washington, D.C. The specialty will be hot dogs served with all kinds of regional toppings. And of course the décor will complement the name, according to Mark. “The concept of [the restaurant] is basically on the foundation of commercial aviation and how it applies to the DC-3. The hotdog tie-in is the regional connection of all the different cities and flying to all of the different locations on the old TWA map.”
DC-3s, nicknamed “Gooney Birds,” at one point represented 87 percent of the U.S. commercial fleet. They played a critical role in introducing the general public to air travel.
The sign in front of the restaurant that salutes them will be part of a DC-3 wing, and “it’ll be polished. All of my airplanes are polished aluminum,” says Neal, who owns a Beech 18 and a Cessna 140, and is a partner in—what else?—a DC-3. “I run the taildragger vintage airplane gamut,” he says.
Ty is a student pilot who has soloed, Mark says. “We share the interest and he’s been to Oshkosh a number of times.” Their father, Ted Neal, was a pilot and served in the Navy; he got his sons interested in aviation. “I’ve been a World War II vintage airplane guy since I was a little kid,” Mark says.
Together with partners Drew Kim and Perry Smith, the Neals also own and operate three Matchbox “vintage pizza bistros”—two in Washington, D.C., and one in Palm Springs, Calif.—as well as Ted’s Bulletin, a “classic American” burger spot, also in Washington, D.C.
June 23, 2010