@presidentsbesnackin Reflection

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https://www.tiktok.com/@presidentsbesnackin

For my final project, I created four TikTok videos that introduced viewers to restaurants where United States presidents have eaten in the DMV. The four restaurants I visited were Old Ebbitt Grill, Good Stuff Eatery, Martin’s Tavern, and Las Gemelas Taqueria. Without planning it, I ended up choosing restaurants in different pockets of DC, which is nice to show how the presidents meander all over the city for a good bite to eat.

Old Ebbitt Grill was founded in 1865, making it the oldest saloon in Washington. The saloon is believed to have been first located on the edge of present-day Chinatown, and after moving to several new locations, it currently resides in the National Press Building at 14th and F Streets NW. Numerous presidents dined at the restaurant, including Ulysses S. Grant, Andrew Johnson, Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt and Warren Harding. President William McKinley is said to have lived there during his tenure in Congress. The history of Old Ebbitt Grill is so rich and interesting, and it’s paired with great food. Known for its raw bar, I ordered oysters and they were delicious. Although, I’m a sucker for any good oysters with mignonette. The environment of Old Ebbitt Grill is also really neat and I believe my TikTok did an adequate job showing how the restaurant has consistently been special in DC’s history.

Good Stuff Eatery is one of my favorite burger places. Ever. When my family and I first visited DC, I was 13 years old. I have a very distinct memory of eating at Good Stuff. On vacations, my parents do not believe in ubering or driving places, and instead like to walk everywhere to truly engage with a city. While I generally love this practice, it is not suited for the winter of DC. We visited in the middle of February and one day we were walking around in the cold rain trying to find somewhere to eat. Finally, after my sisters and I were sobbing at how distraught we were (the drama! but I stand by it), we stepped into Good Stuff and I don’t know if another burger will ever taste as good as that burger did. In 2009, to celebrate President Obama’s inauguration, Chef Mendelsohn created the “ Prez Obama Burger” (now the “Prez Burger”) and the “Michelle Melt” (now the “Good Stuff Melt”). Well, that fateful day in 2014, I ordered the Prez Obama Burger and a milkshake. After learning how Obama took his debt team to the same location (Capitol Hill) in 2011, I knew I had to include Good Stuff in my TikTok videos.

Similar to Old Ebbit Grill, Martin’s Tavern also has a rich history. The Boston Braves’ 1914 shortstop William Gloyd “Billy” Martin founded Martin’s tavern in 1933, making it one of the oldest family-owned restaurants in D.C.  Located in Georgetown, the restaurant has hosted each US president from Harry S. Truman to George W. Bush. Speaker of the House, Sam Rayburn and Lyndon B. Johnson (then a novice congressman) dined in Booth #24 numerous times in the 1940s. John F. Kennedy lived a couple blocks from Martin’s and visited the restaurant after Sunday’s mass. On June 24, 1953, JFK proposed to Jackie in Booth #3, which is now dubbed the proposal booth. President Bill Clinton remembers Martin’s as one of his ”favorite haunts in Georgetown.” I really loved the environment of Martin’s and they had delicious food as well as great service. I can definitely tell how this place came to be so popular. It is also my most liked video on TikTok with 73 likes (as of 11:29 am on 4/26/23).

Las Gemelas Taqueria is located within five minutes of where I live and I had eaten there twice before, so I was excited to learn President Biden ate at the restaurant. On Cinco de Mayo in 2021, Biden visited the restaurant. Las Gemelas was the first restaurant in the nation that Biden approved for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. I work at OrangeTheory Fitness to support me in school and when the members asked me about my TikTok project and I mentioned Las Gemelas, one lady told me she was there when Biden was! She told me Secret Service secured the restaurant and the street outside and everyone was perplexed by what was going on. But then they all quickly understood, and she informed me that Biden was very nice to everyone in the restaurant. In full transparency, I found myself least impressed with the food at Las Gemelas, but it was still decent.

I wanted to create this TikTok account to engage with younger audiences about their local and/or national history. I spent time carefully selecting my username, and I finally landed on @presidentsbesnackin because I figured it would resonate with younger audiences and others who are familiar with Gen Z lingo. I have not received an insane amount of traffic on my profile, but I’ve received more than I was expecting. So far, I have a total of eight followers and 143 likes. My Old Ebbitt Grill video received the most views and the Martin’s Tavern video had the most likes.  I believe if I keep up with posting, I could potentially gain a good following, but it would take a lot of work to constantly put content out there. I love the idea of being a historical TikTok influencer, but I found myself feeling self-conscious filming in public, and I don’t know if that feeling would ever disappear. Overall, I’m pleased with how the videos turned out and I liked learning how my peers thought they were spliced together adequately enough! Maybe I can create more content when I have more time in the summer. I loved this project because it forced me to explore DC and good restaurants around town, and I learned a lot more about these places than I would have if I’d visited without the intention of this project.

4 Replies to “@presidentsbesnackin Reflection”

  1. Grace!

    Your TikToks are all so pretty! I love your narration, it is informative and succinct–perfect for a TikTok! You showed off each restaurant so well and I find a lot of times that photos or videos of food don’t do said food justice, but the way you shot these videos made all the food look so delicious! I especially want to check out Good Stuff Eatery because I love burgers and those burgers looked SO good!

    I also definitely think that if you continued with this account that you would just continue to grow your following, your videos are just that good! Although, I also totally agree that while being a historical TIkTok influencer would probably be a lot of fun that there are a lot of factors to being said influencer that one might not initially think about. I would also totally be self-conscious filming in public even though I didn’t even really think about that aspect of making these TikToks until you mentioned it!

  2. Hey Grace,

    This is a very fun project that has great potential for a broader audience. By combining social media and local D.C. history, I believe this sort of historical food tourism can be accessed by the general public. The subject matter is relevant enough that people visiting or living in D.C may enjoy it as they search for activities to do in D.C. I was not aware JFK proposed in a Georgetown restaurant and was even more surprised to find the booth where he proposed is still in use. I hope this project continues to grow as there are undoubtedly more spaces that current or past presidents have frequented. This is exactly what public history and digital history can be and I hope this trend continues in future historical research.

    Best.

  3. Grace,
    I am so impressed with all the work you’ve put into each video. I think people often underestimate how hard it is to create content like this, particularly something this detailed and historical. I totally get the struggle to drum up engagement, as I’m having trouble with this on my blog. This is also another great resume builder that jobs are really looking for, especially in this market, Kudos to you on a successful project!

  4. Hi, Grace! I love how your project turned out! Your project is a great way to show the local history of DC through food to both D.C. residents and tourists. Not only are you highlighting local businesses in the city, but you’re also showing the rich history of D.C. through places presidents have eaten and ordered from. I personally love Old Ebbitt, especially the crab cakes, and Good Stuff Eatery as well! If you were to expand this project, it might be a good idea to read biographies, autobiographies, and social media posts to find more places presidents have eaten in D.C. I know President Obama ate at Ben’s Chili Bowl, and President Biden ordered Ghostburger with Vice President Harris a while ago. Overall, I really liked your videos because it was a unique way to showcase history throughout the city to viewers!

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