“Welcome to Dog Tag Bakery! Making it deliciously simple for you to empower the lives of our veterans and military families!” Warmly written on a small chalkboard as you enter, these words merely hint at the expansive mission of this inviting\little bakery. Dog Tag Bakery, tucked away on Grace St. off Wisconsin Ave., is the long-awaited realization of the dream of Georgetown’s own Fr. Richard Curry, S.J.
The bakery is an integral piece of the puzzle for the fellowship program offered by Dog Tag Inc., a non-profit that offers wounded veterans and their spouses an education in business and the ability to transition back into civilian life.
During this six-month program, participant veterans take classes at Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies that focus on business administration and entrepreneurship. At the same time, members work and operate all aspects of the bakery—from baking to marketing to inventory—as a way to gain hands-on experience in business. The hope is that participants finish the program with the skills and credentials to successfully start their own businesses in any industry, whether this be of a culinary sort or not. All proceeds from the bakery go towards supporting the nine participants of the pilot program.
The restaurant’s atmosphere reflects its role as much more than just a small business. Pictures of participants at work and the opening of the bakery adorn the wall above a cluster of booths. Red, white, and blue plates and bowls are neatly arranged in clean white cabinets, and whitewashed shelves are adorned by cookbooks such as Jesuit Soupmaking and Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking.
Perhaps the most impressive fixture is off to the right of the restaurant, where a chandelier of dog tags hangs like a curtain over a small stage. As a part of the fellowship program, employees occasionally get up on the stage and describe their experiences to customers. The dog tags that hang above the stage are meant to honor the servicemen and women who have fallen in the defense of our nation. They can be purchased for a donation of $125 and inscribed with a personal message.
Though heavier fare is offered, the bakery excels most in smaller, sweeter bites. This makes it an ideal place for sampling and sharing amongst friends. Get an assortment of éclairs and financiers and pass them around. The cookie selection is extensive and presented tidily in jars—perfect for an on-the-go accompaniment to a large cup of house blend coffee.
The food doesn’t scream experienced baking, but then again, it’s not supposed to. This place has more heart than any number of establishments with mouthwatering delicacies around the Georgetown area, and this spirit goes a long way. Hopefully the first of many successful openings around the country, Dog Tag Bakery is truly a D.C. gem.