Mike's American
Washington, DC

Biber Architects created a new identity and interior design for Mike's American bar and grill in Washington, D.C. Based on a fiction of “WWII fighter pilot Mike, returning to open his Wash. D.C. restaurant” the owners wished to express a subtle patriotic theme with undertones of World War II. Pentagram's solutions are evocative but not purely nostalgic; elements hint at the theme rather than hype it.

The graphic identity is an outlined circle of color with a simple type treatment; a WWII vet would recognize the reference to the iconic Lucky Strike cigarette package. This particular brand was distributed to soldiers in their daily ration kits and the logo became a symbol of daily life in wartime. A secondary version, the circle containing only the letter M, has been used to adorn the custom shades on pendant fixtures.

The interior of the restaurant required little structural change, so the redesign was achieved through the considered composition of textiles, fixtures and furnishings. The designers selected red naugahyde for the banquettes, a red, yellow, khaki, and army green striped upholstery fabric for seating, and three contrasting patterns of plaid carpeting for the necessary floor runners.

In a skylit area over the bar, the designers hung heavy, chained 3-D metal stars: referencing the emblem emblazoned on the fighter aircraft tail, the American flag and the star in the logo. The centerpiece of the restaurant’s skylighted atrium is a heroic, shining star-shaped zinc table large enough to comfortably accommodate ten to twenty waiting customers.

Mike’s American offers a comfortable, familiar-feeling environment with enough visual excitement to make it feel fresh. Brash enough to feel that fast paced service is just what you wanted, but comfortable enough to make you want to stay.