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Don’t look now, but BGR: The Burger Joint is about to become the next hamburger chain in the metro area.

Mark Bucher, founder and co-owner of BGR, told Y&H this afternoon that he has agreed in principle to open his third Burger Joint on Dupont Circle. After a long negotiation period, Bucher expects to sign a lease soon with PNC Bank, the landlord of the space right on the circle, where the burger man will peddle the same beef-heavy menu that earned the Bethesda BGR location a spot on Y&H’s Dining Guide.

Last month, Don Rockwell reported that Bucher was going to open a second BGR in Old Town, in the former Timberman’s Pharmacy spot at 106 N. Washington. The 55-seat Alexandria store is expected to open in early August, Bucher says. The smaller, 40-seat Dupont location, which will likely adopt an edgier tone than the original Bethesda store, should open its doors in the fall, possibly as early as September, he adds.

Hmm, three stores. That’s starting to sound an awful lot like a burger chain.

“I hate that word,” Bucher spits. Yet he doesn’t hate it enough to halt his movement in that direction.

It was a matter of, among other things, bargain real estate, the owner says. “I saw this as an opportunity to strike while everyone else was scared to deal,” Bucher says. “There is the fear. I don’t want to spread the organization too thin.”

But there is also opportunity for BGR to play a larger role in the community, whether hiring more employees or giving back to nonprofits like D.C. Central Kitchen. Plus, Bucher can get more bang for his advertising buck.

So will Bucher now move into franchising the BGR brand?

“I’m almost scared to go there. I don’t know what it means,” Bucher says. “I have no real thought on it at all. We’ll see how the brand takes hold in Old Town and Dupont.”