Steak-N-Egg Expansion Plans Move Forward Even As Mixed-Use Project Off Table
Tenleytown residents and other fans of the iconic local diner Steak-N-Egg can breathe a sigh of relief. The restaurant is not only staying put in the neighborhood, it will be expanding to offer more indoor and outdoor seating.
Steak-N-Egg was previously slated to close for an extended period while its building at 4700 Wisconsin Avenue, along with two adjacent properties, was razed to make way for a four-story residential and retail development. However, property owner Frank Economides has traded the original plans for a mixed-use development for a more modest renovation of Steak-N-Egg and the neighboring two-story buildings at 4702 and 4704 Wisconsin Avenue.
While Steak-N-Egg co-owner Debra Payne would not comment on why the larger redevelopment plans were canceled – and Economides did not respond to an interview request – she did say, “it was definitely to our benefit that the plans changed,” adding that she and co-owner Osman Barrie are very grateful to Economides for working with and supporting them in the restaurant expansion.
As part of the expansion the two-story properties at 4702 and 4704 Wisconsin Avenue will undergo a complete renovation. Payne anticipates that part or all of those buildings will be demolished given their current state, which she described as “old and in bad shape,” and rebuilt on the existing footprint. Engineers are currently completing a structural assessment.
Following renovations and reconstruction, the ground floors will be connected to the existing Steak-N-Egg to offer significantly more interior seating, which is currently limited to a coveted few stools at the counter. The second level will remain as two apartments, which Payne says will be used as owners’ apartments rather than rental units. The footprint of the original Steak ‘n Egg building will remain the same. Outside, Payne says they plan to add seating in front of 4702 and 4704 Wisconsin Avenue, pending approval from the Department of Transportation’s Public Space Committee.
Steak-N-Egg’s many loyal patrons will be pleased to know that the scaled back renovation means the diner will not close for any extended period. As the two-story properties at 4702 and 4704 Wisconsin Avenue are not currently connected to Steak-N-Egg, the restaurant can remain open during their renovation, maintaining its normal 24/7 operations. Payne anticipates that the restaurant might close for a couple weeks at most when they connect the existing restaurant to the first floor of the neighboring buildings.
Co-owners Payne and Barrie are looking forward to developing the Tenleytown location as the restaurant’s “flagship store.” Does this mean more Steak-N-Egg locations are in the works? Payne said that might be a possibility in the future, but they have no definitive plans at this time.
Right now they are excited to share the details of their expansion plans with the Tenleytown community. Although the renovations are a matter-of-right and do not require an appearance before the Advisory Neighborhood Commission, Payne said they are exploring presenting their plans at an ANC meeting as a courtesy and to inform local residents. No date for an appearance has been set.
Residents eager for details should plan to take part in a neighborhood fair Steak-N-Egg is hosting on Saturday, October 10 from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. “We plan to have as comprehensive plans [for the renovation] as we can at the neighborhood fair,” said Payne. She and Barrie will also be available to answer questions.
Getting the word out is important to the diner’s owners given the changes to the site plans and prior media coverage that raised concerns that the restaurant might leave the neighborhood for more than a year. “We want to make sure that everyone has the same story and it is the correct story,” said Payne, which is why she and Barrie have held back thus far on releasing details of their renovation as they awaited approval of their construction plans by relevant D.C. agencies.
A dozen local businesses will join Steak-N-Egg at the neighborhood fair, which will feature music, special offers, promotions, and giveaways. Greenberry’s Coffee, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, and PepsiCo will be on hand with beverages, while Steak-N-Egg will provide some tasty morsels for sampling. Plenty of Steak-N-Egg gear will be available, from hats to sweatshirts, and patrons can purchase chances to win the restaurant’s classic sign. Raffle tickets are $10, with all proceeds going to a local D.C. food bank. The sign drawing will take place at Steak-N-Egg’s grand opening following renovations.
Keep an eye out for Steak-N-Egg’s newest family member, too – a 200 lb. pumpkin. Throughout October, Payne is asking diners to take a picture with the pumpkin, give her a name, and then tag Steak-N-Egg in the picture on Instagram or Twitter. The person posting the best name and picture on each platform will win a free meal.