Some great childhood (and more recent) memories of mine are at Steak ‘n Egg Kitchen, the 24-hour diner that is an institution in Tenleytown and a few blocks from where I grew up. The pancakes are so fluffy that the lump of whipped butter literally sinks into them. It seems like everyone goes to Steak ‘n Egg, and you meet all sorts of characters on a typical visit. During one meal, the person sitting next to me at the counter informed me that he liked sugar in his coffee, and then proceeded to pour the entire jar of sugar in the general vicinity of his coffee mug. He then used a credit card to arrange some of the spilled sugar into a line, and said he’d snort it if I gave him $10. I declined, even after he reduced his price to $5, but the sugar that ended up on my pancakes made them a little sweeter than usual. Good times.
Anyway, it looks like the owner of the Steak ‘n Egg building is going to demolish it, and build a four-story mixed-use building with 16 to 20 rental units and a few retail spaces, including a larger space for Steak ‘n Egg. It’ll be kind of sad to see the old Steak ‘n Egg building go away, but it’s the right thing to do.
DC rents are skyrocketing, and more housing will help bring rents under control. Even if these units are not built as affordable housing, everyone living there is someone who is not bidding up rent on an apartment elsewhere in the city. There will be space for a new restaurant and another retail space, which means more jobs and more choices for residents to eat and shop. The Tenlyetown stretch of Wisconsin Avenue is woefully underdeveloped, so this is probably long overdue.
And at the end of the day, Steak ‘n Egg will still be there. My fond memories of the place are from the food and the people. A new building doesn’t change that. I’ll be a bit nostalgic for the old Steak ‘n Egg building, but my nostalgia shouldn’t make it harder for people to find a place to live or work in DC.