Metro Weekly

Building a Bigger, Better Eagle

Ted Clements and Peter Lloyd are soaring high with construction underway for the new DC Eagle

DC Eagle  Photo by Todd Franson
DC Eagle – Photography by Todd Franson

The Phoenix restaurant will be on the first floor and run by Thomas Bach, formerly the chef at Café Berlin, and Jason Flory, Clements’ cousin who currently runs a Ruby Tuesday in Hampton Roads, Va. (They’ve also tapped Chris Shell to launch Eagle Eye Catering, which can be hired for private events, whether house parties or wedding celebrations.) Customers will be able to get to the Eagle from the restaurant by taking the elevator or stairs, leading to a room that will house a cashier, a coat check and a small retail shop. But most will enter the Eagle and this room by coming around back to the building’s loading dock, which faces old B&O railroad tracks, still in operation. Off to the far right is a small, designated cigar bar, to be called Terminal Alley. There will be a bootblack chair set up there and another in the Eagle itself.


“We tried to take it to the next level, and keep it relevant,” says Clements, and his enthusiasm for the space is contagious. It’s easy to spend hours talking to him to learn all about his plans, both those already being enacted as well as those still to come.

DC Eagle  Photo by Todd Franson
DC Eagle – Photography by Todd Franson

‘The Other Side of the Tracks’

“I CAN’T WAIT to open,” Clements grins. “After being in this business for 22 years, I do not like being sidelined” — referring to not having an actual bar for most of the year.

While they’ve cleared all the major legal hurdles and construction is moving at a quick pace, the biggest hurdle is yet to come — getting people to the venue, “the other side of the tracks,” as Lloyd puts it.

A lot of it is just a matter of familiarization. As it turns out, many people have seen the building before. “If you’ve ever gone east on Benning Road,” Lloyd recounts what he regularly tells people, “when you cross the big overpass over the tracks, look to your right, you’re staring at our building. ‘The big white building off to the side? Oh, I’ve seen that building before!'”

In fact, some even know the building from the time it was the consignment shop Classic Clothing Co, which also once had a shop in Georgetown but has since relocated to Northeast’s Bladensburg Road.

The local community around the property seems eager to have a sit-down restaurant that serves healthy options, offering something other than the fast food that’s all-too plentiful in the vicinity. “The ANC has been really quite wonderful,” Lloyd says, referring to Advisory Neighborhood Commission 7F, which has jurisdiction over the area and has approved plans for the DC Eagle complex.


One remaining stumbling block is securing appropriate parking. The parking lots around the property are all owned by one commercial neighbor, who hasn’t accepted offers to lease spots. So unless something changes, Clements counsels future patrons: “Do not park on the parking lots around us. Your car will be towed.” Clements is working to set up a parking valet, and arranging to use some off-street parking spots nearby. He’s also exploring other options, from a shuttle to pedicabs.

Located a block from the major intersection of Benning Road and Minnesota Avenue, the new DC Eagle is only a two-block-walk from the Minnesota Avenue Metro stop, which also has its own Capital Bikeshare station. Lloyd, who lives near the Potomac Avenue Metro stop two stops west, does feel safe walking from the Metro to the DC Eagle even at night. “I do!,” he says, adding, “I wouldn’t wander around, looking at the sky or your phone, stumbling along and looking vulnerable. … Don’t look like a target and I really think you’ll be okay.”

Lloyd adds that he doesn’t consider the neighborhood dangerous — relatively speaking anyway. “More dangerous than what?” he asks. “I mean I remember when Shaw was a dangerous area. I remember when the old location was a dangerous area.” In fact, as hard as it may be to believe now, 639 New York Ave. NW was not a prime address two decades ago. Its surrounding neighborhood could be a bit intimidating to walk at night. Any resident who lives near the Shaw Metro stop can tell you the same was true there just a couple years ago. As goes Shaw, apparently so goes Benning near the DC Eagle.

“Oh yes, it’s transitioning in front of our eyes — very much so,” Clements says. “Even my contractors, and people who have been coming here for three or four months, they can already see the change.” The forthcoming DC Streetcar and its proposed Benning Road stop will also add to the pool of transportation options. And grand plans for redeveloping the Anacostia waterfront area and bike path will further enhance the region.

DC Eagle  Photo by Todd Franson
DC Eagle – Photography by Todd Franson

A New Space with Familiar Faces

THERE ARE REASONS to think the DC Eagle will be a hit from the start. “While working on the weekends,” Clements says, “I have customers just riding up on bikes, people just driving by, trying to find the building, the location, waving.” The venue should also draw in leatherfolk from all around the Mid-Atlantic region who are making a day or weekend trip — not to mention those who come for January’s Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend, run by the local Centaurs Motorcycle Club. Clements has also been in talks with local promoters to organize special parties and events, including Joe Tresh, who has already announced plans to start another of his popular bi-weekly Bear Happy Hour parties in the space, a complement to the existing bi-weekly event at H Street’s Rock & Roll Hotel.

Many longtime employees of the DC Eagle will be returning, beyond the three partners. Among them: Carl Domer, Dwayne Hitchcock, John Watson and Jesus Uresti. The new DC Eagle will also have other distinguishing marks beyond familiar faces, salvaged from the previous location — from the bootblack chairs to the stained glass windows that lined the stairwell to the club bar to the lockers.

“Maybe we’ll make adjustments down the road, in a few years,” Lloyd says. “But initially I want it to feel like the Eagle.”

The new DC Eagle will be open to the public by Friday, Nov. 21, in time for its 43rd anniversary celebration. The location is 3701 Benning Rd. NE. Call 202-347-6025 or visit

DC Eagle  Photo by Todd Franson
DC Eagle – Photography by Todd Franson

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