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The five key ingredients for a Washington power spot

(Photo courtesy of Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab) (Photo courtesy of Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab)

If Washington has one thing in common with Hollywood it’s a weakness for people watching and power lunches. Whether it’s at the Palm, Capital Grille, or Bobby Van’s, settling into a booth or at a bar stool is an unavoidable bullet point on more than a few job descriptions.

So just what elevates a local eatery from popular to powerful? We asked William Marovitz, a former Illinois state senator and an investor in the newly opened and already buzzed about Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab, to tell us what it takes to make a D.C. restaurant the D.C. restaurant — and his pitch for why he thinks Joe’s fits the bill.

1. A hunk of meat and a forkful of lettuce

The smell of rich mahogany and leather banquettes aren’t enough to draw in the in crowd. It’s what’s coming from the kitchen that matters. “You could have the best looking place in the world but there’s no substitute for good food,” said Marovitz, who recommends the bone-in filet mignon or the seafood salad at Joe’s.

2. Everyone’s an A-lister 

“Our philosophy is we say yes to everything,” explained Marovitz. Recently Joe’s took that tenet to the test when a patron asked to host a private Super Bowl party in a previously unused office space in the former Union Bank building that houses the restaurant.  “You want something,” Marovitz added, “you’re going to get it.”

3. Louder than a library but quieter than a Jay Z concert

Joe’s took particular care with the “sound attenuation” in the sprawling restaurant that seats more than 200 for dinner and another 100 at the bar. “You always want an energy in both the bar and dining areas, but not so loud that you can’t talk and hear each other.” said Marovitz. Screaming out state secrets over shrimp cocktail obviously wouldn’t do.

4. A dinner with a view

“Washingtonians want the right seats.” According to Marovitz, the seating arrangement at Joe’s was especially formulated for the see and be seen set, with every table providing a decent view of the faces in the crowd. “You wouldn’t be able to tell me what the best seat in the house is.” Wedding planners take note.

5. The cool kids 

When putting together the  restaurant’s investment group, Joe’s had a divide and conquer strategy. “We had a pie chart,” said Marovitz. “We wanted people in the media, politics, lobbyist, lawyers, powerful women, philanthropists, Republicans and Democrats.”




Helena Andrews-Dyer is the co-author of The Reliable Source. Follow her on Twitter @helena_andrews, and send your hot tips, sightings, and gossip to



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Helena Andrews-Dyer · February 4, 2014

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