“Carmine’s has been around for 22 years and always has to look and feel like it’s been around for that long,” says the company’s CEO Jeffrey Bank. “Having a clean, but worn, look is not the easiest thing to do.”
The restaurants must always have what Bank calls “the wow factor.” In his book, this means “large portions, great value, huge meatballs, and tacky chandeliers that hang over our bars.”
These vintage fixtures are sourced from secondhand shops and the dusty back corners of lighting stores, and they never cost more than a few hundred dollars. “It’s hard to walk in Home Depot and say, ‘Hi, can you show me the tacky section?’ jokes Bank.
When it came time to outfit the Carmine’s in Penn Quarter, Bank was at a loss for what to hang in the lounge. Luckily for him, his landlord, Douglas Jemal of Douglas Development, said that he had an antiques store around the corner where he might find something appropriate. Insisting that they check it out immediately, Jemal brought Bank to his shop, where they found a several gorgeous crystal chandeliers. Unfortunately, they didn’t look like they fit Carmine’s budgetary constraints.