Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab nearing deal to open in downtown D.C.

The proprietor of Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab is in the final stages of negotiations for its first outpost east of Chicago in an 18,000-square-foot former bank branch a block from the White House, the Washington Business Journal confirmed Friday.

After four days of guessing, we now know what will likely fill the Wells Fargo space in the historic Union Trust office building at 740 15th St. NW. The District’s version of Joe’s, a popular seafood and steak restaurant in the Windy City and Las Vegas, will seat 454, with total occupancy of nearly 800. The restaurant is going after the office and tourist set alike.

“Quite frankly we’re hopeful we get this deal done,” said Michael Rotolo, managing partner of Joe’s Stone Crab Development Co., an arm of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises Inc. “We’d love to find ourselves in Washington, D.C.”

Both the John Buck Co., owner of the 175,000-square-foot former Union Trust Co. building at 15th and H streets, and Lettuce Entertain You are based in Chicago.

The first work permits for Joe’s were issued this week to demolish bank vaults and office space, decommission an elevator and add structural floor slabs to raise a portion of the first floor. The main restaurant permit is under review.

Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab is a concept based on Joe’s Stone Crab, a landmark restaurant in Miami that will celebrate its 100th anniversary in October. When the Chicago branch opened in 2000, Lettuce Entertain You changed the name a bit and added steaks to set it apart from the Miami original.

The District’s Joe’s may be half the size of The Hamilton, the 37,000-square-foot restaurant, bar and entertainment venue only three blocks away, but it will seat about 100 more people.

Is it five-star, as we reported Tuesday? The wait staff wears tuxedos, and Yelp reviews average 4.5 stars, so, close enough.

Lettuce Entertain You operates 44 restaurant concepts in seven major metropolitan areas. Four of the restaurants are in the D.C. region — Wildfire in Tysons Corner, Big Bowl in Reston, Mon Ami Gabi in Bethesda and Reston, and Community Canteen, also in Reston.

While the east end of downtown D.C. (Chinatown, Penn Quarter, Gallery Place) has earned a reputation for late-night dining and entertainment, there is no lack of restaurant options in the 14th and 15th street corridors, though Joe’s may be the destination that brings it all together.

With Joe’s, The Hamilton, Old Ebbitt Grill, Woodward Table and Bobby Van’s Steakhouse, there will be middle- to high-end restaurant seating for several thousand within a four-block radius.


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