Chris Bukowski is a former contestant on the Bachelorette and Bachelor Pad 3. After moving to the DC area from NYC, he opened up the bar Bracket Room in Clarendon. We caught up with him about his time on TV, his female-friendly sports bar, life in DC and what he learned from being a contestant.
1. How did you choose the DC area, being from Chicago?
I went to school in Vegas. From Vegas, I went to New York. In New York, my business partner now was one of my clients. I went to school for hospitality and always wanted to open my own restaurant. We talked about it 3 or 4 years ago, just joking around, but after the show, you know, I had a nice name, and thought I had a great concept. Jeff, my partner said why don’t you move out to Maryland and we’ll concept. I was always hanging out down here [Clarendon], so once this location opened up we kind of hopped on it.
2. Where did you come up for the concept of a female friendly sports bar?
In Vegas everything is female friendly, they just don’t market it that way. But, if you think about it, in hospitality you are always catering towards women. Like people say “a happy wife is a happy life.” So by catering to women, you get the women here. The guys will be here regardless. It’s the small details, the cell phone chargers, purse hooks, and USB outlets in the bar. My cell phone is always dead, so cellphone chargers! We have healthier items on the menu. Especially in DC and Arlington people are quite health conscious.
3. Now that you are in the area, what is your favorite thing about being in the DC?
I like DC because it is pretty diverse. In DC there is a lot of culture. In Clarendon I have the urban life, but not really. Here I can walk everywhere I need to. You have the metro right here and everything is within walking distance. You have everything here but it isn’t New York City crazy. I was in New York for two years before new opportunities came along. I never signed up for the show [the Bachelorette]. I was nominated and they wanted to cast me. I ignored them and took a job back in Chicago and was there for three months before going on the show.
4. How does it feel being one of the more well-known personalities to come out of the show?
I don’t know. I didn’t know what to expect going into the shows. So it feels like an accomplishment. The shows aren’t as glamorous as people think. It’s tough. You are cut off from your normal life and can’t talk to your family or watch TV.
5. Has what you learned from the Bachelorette and Bachelor pad informed your business practices at all?
Absolutely. Just learning about different people. DC is very transient with many different people from different places. When I was on these shows, I met people from all over the place and lived with them. Another good thing about going to school in Vegas is I had people from all over the country there. I have learned to manage a lot of different types of people. I learned more about myself from the show than I ever did in college or high school because you have a lot of time to yourself. 100 percent grew from the experience. I never thought I would make it as far as I did or become a character people follow.