Young and Hungry

Red Carpet and Bare Midriff Models at STK’s Opening Party

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Of course there was a red carpet at last night's opening party for STK. The swanky "Not Your Daddy's" steakhouse "geared toward females" officially opens today in Dupont in what was once a California Pizza Kitchen (as well as Casa Nonna). But yesterday, D.C.'s wannabe glamazons, pseudo-celebs, rich dudes, and lowly food writers such as myself showed up at the promise of passed hors d'oeuvres and free booze.

I arrive around 15 minutes early to find a line already stretching down the street. As everyone waits for the staff behind the velvet rope to make sure we were "on the list," some hot models wearing short skirts and midriff-baring shirts hand out temporary tattoos with puckered lips and the STK logo.

Suddenly, an imposing security guard in a suit pulls none other than Dan Silverman of PoPville out of the line. Apparently, he's not dressed up enough in his jeans and collared plaid shirt. Don't they know that's the PRINCE? I'm also wearing jeans and start to wonder if I'll be yanked out of line next. But I remind myself of nightlife rule No. 1: Always let in the chicks. It takes a publicist intervention, but the security guard eventually lets the Prince in too. 

photo (1)After dodging a photographer taking red carpet photos, I head straight to the bar. The back wall is covered in horns that someone compares to a close-up of a cat's tongue. I get a cocktail called Green Intensity with vodka, lime juice, basil, and serrano chile—spicy, but good. (This is my second time sampling STK's drinks; they visited Washington City Paper's offices last week to hand out cocktails.) Time to scope out the room: rounded banquettes ripe for bottle service hug the wall. Bed-like lounge seating in the shape of a bowling pin occupies the center of the room.

photo (2)Before long, it starts to get crowded. Very crowded. I can't move without bumping into some guy with well-manicured facial hair or elbowing some woman in a black dress (which, let's face it, is pretty much everyone). My colleague Jenny Rogers is waylaid for 15 minutes in the bathroom—it was monopolized by a woman in a romper. Despite its lady focus, yes, STK had only one bathroom stall available for its female patrons on opening night. (The second stall was out of order.)

Beginning to feel claustrophobic, I spot an open area across the room. But it turns out the reason it's less crowded over there is because it's the VIP section. Another guy in a suit turns me away. Until (!) a publicist appears. I'm in. Suddenly, I'm standing next to tech millionaire Michael Saylor, Washington Kastles owner/millionaire Mark Ein, and some guys I'm pretty sure are professional basketball players. Oh hey, isn't that Reggie Love?

By this time, I'm starving, and the platters of sliders keep passing me by. I eye a dozen unattended burgers and go in. "Sorry, that's for our table," a woman says of a completely empty table.

So I leave. And go to Shake Shack.


Photos by Jenny Rogers and Laura Hayes

  • asmith

    This place looks terrible

  • Guest

    Same thing happens every single time an out of town restaurant comes to DC with no understanding of the culture here. The dress code will be gone in a week. Bottle service gone in a month. The restaurant will be gone in six.

  • seriously?

    A place meant to be geared towards women only has 2 bathrooms?!? Shake Shack sounds like a great alternative.

  • Moe

    Oh gosh! I went by this thing too! Did you see the lady with the bald head? The funniest thing was watching the dowdy commuters (me) and families from Ohio to see the cherry blossoms walk by, flummoxed by The Red Carpet! The Velvet Rope! The cool lady in w/the bald head! (she rocked, she is my hero and I want to know who she is!)

    But then, where did I go to eat? Reader, I must tell you. SHAKE SHACK!! And joining me there were a suspiciously large number of people in rhinestone sandals and black dresses!

  • Kev29

    Dupont is over.

  • Martinus Scriblerus

    I heard "Tareq and Michaele Salahi" were caught trying to sneak OUT of there... an empty plate of sliders was found nearby...the two smelled suspiciously of little patties of beef. :) Tee hee.....

  • Rabble Rouser


  • Meow

    Less steak more shake.

  • Ron The Don

    What you describe wasn't a restaurant; It was a nightclub in disguise. I can see what audience they were aiming for, and I doubt I'll stepping foot inside that place.

  • Novatronic

    It would be nice to have more glamour in DC. Less Birkenstocks and babies.

  • Moe

    This is Moe, from the comments above, and I think I've put my finger on the vague cloud of uneasiness that settled over me walking by the STK opening Thursday night.

    Novatronic, just up there on top of me, advises more glamour! Less Birkenstock and babies! And why not?! Even that old anarchist herself Emma Goldman cried out for dancing and roses as well as bread for her factory girls.

    That icky feeling in my gut isn't because I want to kill anyone's buzz, but instead arises from a sense of a disconnect that goes way beyond one restaurant in Dupont Circle A sense of the unrest, decay, corruption, incompetence, and indifference of the city, of the nation, hiding beneath a pile of sliders and pink lighting.

    In a strange example of synchronicity, the City Paper covered the new regulations of the DC farmer's markets in last week's edition. Wonderful article, people should read it! The whole debacle, how perfectly Washington DC, confused, unorganized, stinking of indifference. I also think about the glass-littered parking lot the kids at DC's shelter play at (during a time of budget surplus, natch) and all the sheer, GD'dmd waste and mismanagement over the last 30+ years I've lived here.

    So many, many times, what does this graft buy? So often, so often, something sad, unimaginative, banal. Bottle service, a red velvet roped-off empty space for the "VIPs," drugs, booze, and fatty meat.

    Wow. What Glamour.

  • Gar

    Love that you recognize Michael Saylor and Mark Ein and not the atheletes.