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When Hakan Ilhan was conceiving of his most casual restaurant in recent times, he kept asking himself one question—what would millennials want? Lazy Kate’s coming to 2300 N St. NW in West End is built with younger diners in mind, from the design to the price point. “We are looking for a young, fun, exciting, and very vibrant feel,” Ilhan says.
The restaurateur is also behind Mirabelle, Al Dente, Alba Osteria, and Ottoman Taverna. Almost as if he were responding to a dare, Ilhan is working on two openings at once. Brasserie Liberté, a French restaurant, is going into the former Morton’s The Steakhouse in Georgetown.
Lazy Kate’s will add an American bistro to his portfolio. It’s named after a three-pronged instrument used to ply yarn. It holds spools or bobbins in place. Ilhan says he picked the name because the menu will pull from the top dishes at Al Dente, Ottoman Taverna, and eventually, Brasserie Liberté. He’s aiming to keep entree prices at $20 or less during lunch and dinner. He hasn’t named a chef yet.
Ilhan believes casual restaurants are the future. “Every chef that opens a restaurant wants to do fine dining,” he says. “They’re an artist. They want to create unique things. That’s oversaturated right now. The future is going to be in affordable ticket averages.”
To fine tune what type of restaurant Lazy Kate’s would be, Ilhan conducted focus group studies with the tenants of the building, who include The Aspen Institute, Spitfire Strategies, and Everfi. He even roped them into evaluating the design. “We showed the focus group the color palette to see what they wanted,” he says. “This is a very vibrant, millennial kind of approach to this restaurant.”
Swatchroom is designing the 109-seat restaurant. In addition to the dining room and bar, Ilhan says he’s planning to install an outdoor rosé wine garden. “We found out millennials are drinking more wine than beer,” Ilhan says.
He’s targeting a December opening date for the restaurant. Lazy Kate’s will serve lunch, weekend brunch, and dinner, and will also offer late-night dining. Ilhan is expecting to be busy during happy hour. Reservations will be accepted through OpenTable.
Lazy Kate’s, 2300 N St. NW; lazykatesdc.com