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All day and all of the night, Lost Lake turns 2 as prolific Pike/Pine owners plan new ventures

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Jason Lajeunesse, Dave Meinert, and Joey Burgess (Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

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.

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(Images: CHS)

So, more egg orders aside, where do Dave MeinertJason 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.

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12 thoughts on “All day and all of the night, Lost Lake turns 2 as prolific Pike/Pine owners plan new ventures

  1. How this place has managed to stay open for two years boggles my mind – a great location plus mediocre food and mediocre service is apparently all you need.

      • Unfortunately their pricing isn’t 24 hour diner pricing (just like Skillet can drop the whole ‘diner’ thing if they want me to buy a 13 dollar fried chicken sandwich). The fry switch and the decline of the beef gravy don’t help.

      • Right now they’re about the only ones around open 24 hrs for this type of food. (I would not count IHOP in this category). Having no competition probably lets them slide with only mediocre food. If there were other 24 hr competition they’d have to step up the game on food quality.

    • “Mediocre” to one person is “serviceable & unpretentious” to someone else. If you were expecting them to go head-to-head with Quinn’s or Manhattan, you probably were disappointed. But, for basic American diner food it’s really not that bad. And while the service can sometimes be spotty, I generally find the staff to be friendly, personable, and busting their butts, and blame any deficiencies in this area more on poor scheduling choices by management (seriously guys, is it too much to ask to have more than ONE server on-shift during weekday morning rushes?)

      • Totally agree with this response. Any corner in Manhattan has food on par in quality and price. That’s the point of diner food AND service. Just enough to keep you happy.

  2. While they have made improvements over the two years, the food and service is still hit’n miss. One time everything is OK, and then the next time WTF! And the comment about the lack of servers at times is right-on.

  3. I really liked the food when I went a number of times but I wouldn’t choose to go back unless meeting someone who really wanted to go. Service is slow even during empty times and they keep their music VERY loud. That with the clatter of the dishes etc makes the place not relaxing. It’s hard to hold a conversation and asking the staff to turn down the music is a request that is never honored. I have explained my frustration to the staff and they do not care and so apparently do not wish to have the business of anyone who does not want very loud music.

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