Is Stephen Starr eyeing D.C.’s ample waterfront for a new spot?

Le Diplomate, Philadelphia restaurateur Stephen Starr’s first D.C. foray, may not have won the Best New Restaurant RAMMY award at the region’s annual restaurant awards last week, but that’s no indication of a slowdown at the uber popular 14th Street NW spot.

The restaurant is perpetually packed, serving an average of 800 covers on a Saturday night and pulling in $16 million in revenue in its first year, according to a recent article in Capitol File.

All of which leads to the big question: What else does Starr have cooking?

He has had discussions with several landlords at waterfront projects in D.C., including Georgetown, The Wharf or The Yards, according to sources.

Even before Le Diplomate opened in April 2013, Starr was open about the fact that he was looking at other projects in D.C. Two months after the restaurant celebrated its first anniversary, however, no deals have come to fruition.

The prolific restaurateur could also open one of his nearly two dozen concepts, or perhaps something he’s never done before, as he told me last April, in one of D.C.’s hot restaurant neighborhoods. Think 14th Street, Shaw, Adams Morgan and H Street.

Unlike his progression in Philadelphia, where he opened his earliest spots in the busy Old City business district before branching out to more emerging neighborhoods, Starr began his D.C. journey in a largely residential area. The waterfront option is something that’s less feasible in Philadelphia given the largely industrial character of the docks there.

In the District, downtown spots aren’t at the top of his list, mainly because of the lack of older, interesting buildings. Starr has a thing for creaky old real estate: He built Le Diplomate out of a dilapidated former shirt laundry space in a project that required some environmental reclamation and cost more than $6 million.

It makes sense, then, that he’s focused on neighborhoods such as H Street and Adams Morgan.

As far as a time line, however, it’s anyone’s guess.


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