If you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet, cracking roughly half a million will apparently help a 24-hour diner hit its stride.
That’s what the partners behind 10th and E Pike’s Lost Lake Cafe have learned since the round-the-clock joint opened in May 2013, and theoy’re showing no signs of fatigue. Along with managing the Comet, Big Mario’s, and recent acquisitions Grim’s and The Woods, the Guild Seattle team are now opening a new Italian restaurant on 19th Ave E.
So, more egg orders aside, where do Dave Meinert, Jason Lajeunesse, and new partner Joey Burgess go from here? Let the Queen Anne takeover begin. While they wouldn’t divulge the exact location, the trio told CHS they will expand E Pine’s Big Mario’s pizza to Queen Anne sometime this year as their first local chain.
Lost Lake and the Comet are CHS advertisers.
CHS was there when Lost Lake opened its doors two years ago. Aside from one late-night closure every few months for deep cleaning, the diner’s doors have been open ever since. In that time, manager Burgess has been executing what amounts to five services a day: breakfast, lunch, happy hour, dinner, and late night. “I think we can really pull it off now,” he said.
A good time to experience it all in one 24-hour bender will be Friday, May 8th, as Lost Lake celebrates its two year anniversary with $2 benedicts, $2 burgers, and $2 wells. You’re lucky it’s not their 20th birthday.
Holding together a regular Lost Lake crew, especially for the graveyard shifts, has been a major factor in allowing Burgess to fine tune the non-stop machine. In his eyes, the biggest room for growth now is dinner. “People associate the diner with breakfast,” he said.
Two years at Lost Lake by the numbers
- 19,605 Eggs Benedict
- 80,316 Burger and Fries
- 18,113 Milkshakes
- 62,274 Well Drinks
And that’s true no matter what time of day it is. The vegan hash was an unexpected hit even during dinner hours, while the Lost Lake meatloaf didn’t take off as much as Burgess had hoped. Fried chicken turned out to be Burgess’s biggest headache in the kitchen, but he said the staff have finally landed on a recipe they love.
Meinert, whose first 24-hour diner was the 5 Point Cafe, said he had been hearing for years prior to opening Lost Lake that people wanted an all-night hangout in Pike/Pine. Of course, not all those people were showing up at 4 AM when the restaurant eventually opened. The late night service was initially difficult to justify financially, Lajeunesse said, and the owners had considered closing it down early on.
Sticking with the 24-hour concept has meant holding true to what Meinert and Lajeunesse say they set out do to in the first place: make a diner that has a little bit of everything for everyone. “It’s a restaurant, hangout, and neighborhood hub,” Meinert said. Even with a renewed dedication to 24-hour service, the owners said they wouldn’t mind getting rid of the required four hour dry time after 2 AM.
… a gluttonous tour through New York City: Five days, 26 Italian restaurants, all full meals.
One downside to running a non-stop restaurant is that there’s little time to work on expanding the restaurant itself. CHS previously told you about plans for a Lost Lake “streatery” that would function essentially like a sidewalk cafe. Lajeunesse said the project is still on the table, though it might be a few months before anything moves on it.
One of the team’s favorite aspects of owning restaurants is working on new menus. Meinert said he still makes rounds to all the city’s burger joints in search of that special something that could make Lost Lake’s burger transcendent.
The yet-to-be-named “seasonally focused, clean Italian” restaurant on 19th Ave E also provided a recent opportunity for Meinert, Lajeunesse, and Burgess to take a gluttonous tour through New York City: Five days, 26 Italian restaurants, all full meals.
Still digesting their research, the menu for the project on the corner of 19th and Mercer remains in the works, but will include pizza, handmade pastas, Italian entrees, a full brunch, and more than a few wines. Currently, the crew is working on sprucing up the space after Kingfish Cafe’s 18 year run. Where Lost Lake was opened in a flurry of activity, Lajeunesse said the partners are taking their time with opening on 19th. Nonetheless, they’re still aiming to be serving up pastas sometime in June.
Meanwhile, Lajeunesse has been keeping busy with planning for July’s rebranded Capitol Hill Block Party and keeping Neumos up and running while Meinert has turned his attention to the state’s burgeoning recreational marijuana industry. “It’s been an amazing two years,” Meinert said.