Farmers & Distillers is perhaps the most diverse restaurant brought to you by our restaurateurs, Mike Vucurevich and Dan Simons, and the more than 47,000 farmers that make up the North Dakota Farmers Union, our farmer-partner led by Mark Watne. Our collection of restaurants, which include Founding Farmers and Farmers Fishers Bakers, are working to transform the American dining experience by unbundling the industrial food chain and taking us back to our roots: family farms and natural products. This means working hard to make items from scratch whenever possible, including our beverages and paying close attention to where our suppliers source our ingredients. We have learned that with the commitment and talent of our team we can make remarkable progress on this journey.
Since opening our first restaurant in 2008, Founding Farmers DC, we have continued to build our brand slowly and sustainably into Montgomery County, MD, Tysons, VA, and Georgetown, DC, as well as Reston, VA and King of Prussia, PA. Our goal is to be a collection of unique and evolving restaurants. We have no desire to scale, replicate, dummy-down, or do anything to compromise our vision. Making our own booze is just one more step in an enterprise where we make ethos-centric decisions about everything we do. This includes how we source and make our furniture and uniforms to how we deal with our compost and waste streams. In our company, the value and deliciousness on the plate and in the glass are as important to us as the lifestyle of our employees and our impact on the environment. We make all of our decisions Through the Eyes of the Farmer® but in the case of Farmers & Distillers, our goal has been more refined: Through the Eyes of the Founding Farmer®.
What Would George do?
Farmers & Distillers looks specifically to our country’s original founding father, George Washington, for inspiration and guidance. America’s first president and a highly respected general, Washington was an acclaimed farmer, distiller, and entrepreneur ahead of his time. As we know, our nation’s capital was named after him. There are also parts of George Washington and our nation’s history that we are not ignoring and must not be ignored. President Washington owned slaves and his Mt. Vernon home and plantation relied on the labor of hundreds of enslaved men, women, and children. We are committed to continually considering our complete history and our place in it, ensuring we see through the eyes of all of our citizens, especially those most impacted by these horrors.
Our restaurant was inspired by our first president’s American industriousness and keen eye for opportunity. They are built into the very foundation of this country and Farmers & Distillers. Through our development process we kept asking ourselves, “What would George do?” be it with flavor, cooking techniques, or atmosphere. On issues of society, diversity, and equity, we do NOT ask what George would do, because he is not our role model. We ask instead what we can do today to combine the best of the past with the best of a new future.
George Washington was a…
Distiller, Gentleman Farmer, Dancing Socialite, Entrepreneur, General & President
Our restaurant is inspired by this Founding Father.
Farmers & Distillers is proud to be centrally located in our nation’s capital, as we look to its history for inspiration. Situated within the heart of Mt Vernon Square, Farmers & Distillers is within walking distance to many of DC’s historic landmarks, including the U.S. Capitol, the National Mall, the Supreme Court, the White House, Ford’s Theatre, the Library of Congress, and the beautifully restored Apple Carnegie Library. Our restaurant draws inspiration from this rich and diverse community, as well as from President Washington and First Lady Martha Washington whose collaborative nature and focus on community brought together an entire country. We learned from the design and lore of their Mount Vernon, particularly the first lady’s penchant for gatherings large and small, which influenced many of the microclimates in our restaurant. We studied the history of Mt Vernon Square and formed parallels to how President Washington approached the evolution of his Mount Vernon estate and his culinary and beverage passions. We are also inspired by our nearby Chinatown neighborhood with our Hand-Pulled Noodles and our delicious Take Out Style Chinese Fried Chicken. This menu has something for everyone in the neighborhood… and beyond.
Farmers & Distillers pays homage to the hands, heart, and soul of the original kitchen at Mount Vernon. The first family’s kitchen was anchored by the enslaved people who ran it. Mount Vernon’s head cook was an enslaved man known as Hercules, who had taken over the kitchen from Old Doll. The back-breaking work of Chef Hercules, Old Doll, and their teams allowed the Washington’s to host remarkable events. While our country once faced the darkest ages of racial inequality, with our view of history, it is clear that Chef Hercules and Chef Old Doll were denied the status they would have earned today, that of celebrity chefs. Washington may have sat at the head of the table, but it is vital that we acknowledge the expertise and contributions of those around him. We are grateful for their creativity, talent, and tastes.
At the heart of the restaurant is our fully functioning distillery: Founding Spirits. As “distillers” we are excited to craft our own spirits, in-house, using age-old techniques mixed with modern-day expertise. Our very own Jon Arroyo leads the way, and we invite you to take a peek into Founding Spirits at some point during your meal and have a taste of the fruits of our labor. In addition to what we make on-site, we are continuing to offer our proprietary line of spirits made in collaboration with Copper Fox Distillery, as well our Virginia Vines Rosé made with Early Mountain Vineyards.
Our Owners Are Farmers
At Farmers & Distillers, we are majority-owned by family farmers, over 47,000 of them, either individually or through the unions that represent them. American farmers are the bedrock of our country. We want our food to represent this heritage. We want you, our guest, to know that the food on your plate comes from a real person, whether it be the farmer working the land or the chef cooking it for you. We also want you to know that farmers directly benefit from you sitting here in our restaurant enjoying their food. This is what it means to be farmer-owned. Some of our farmer-owners provide product and some are just investors who get a piece of the financial pie every time you take a tasty bite of our food.
This Land is Our Land: Keeping it Green
Our sustainability practices align with our Founding Farmer mindset. Farmers & Distillers has pursued LEED certification and is a 3 Star Certified Green Restaurant®. Our commitment to the environment can be seen in our filtered water system that says no to plastic bottles, in the light bulbs above you, the faucet you use to wash your hands, the oven cooking your food, and the farmers who grow it. This land is our land. We are working to find ways to do more good and less harm. That is what keeping it green means to us. We hope you will join us in this quest for progress.
We Are Farmers & Distillers
We are excited about this next addition to our collection of farmer-owned restaurants. Farmers & Distillers is transforming the American dining experience and working to spread the message of the American farmer and increase the demand for family-farmed products. Whether it’s the grain in our bread, the barley in our booze, or the dairy in our butter, the stronger the farmer, the better the food, and the tastier the drink. Welcome to Farmers & Distillers.