The Eleanor, a bowling lounge, bar and grille, will open its second location at 931 Ellsworth Dr. on Monday, Feb. 24, company officials said at a preview event last night.
Adam Stein, the managing partner and face of the ownership team, said he first got the idea for “a bowling alley that had elevated food and beverage offerings” when he was a student at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
That history played a role in the choice of the concept’s name.
“We were trying to find something that kind of sounded fun, sounded classy, a little bit unusual,” Stein said. “We started off kind of thinking about goofy bowling associated names, but decided maybe that wasn’t the best for the type of place we were thinking about opening.”
Later, thinking about a District of Columbia connection, where he originally had the idea and other considerations, a number of names came up, including Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Well, The Eleanor is a cool-sounding name,” Stein said he thought. And though it was bit tongue in cheek, “we just kind of ran with it.”
There’s another connection as well—Norton also graduated from Antioch.
The first location of The Eleanor then opened in June of 2018.
“There are a lot of different places that have kind of bits and pieces of what we do here,” Stein said about the restaurant’s concept—Dave & Buster’s in Ellsworth Place was one example he cited.
However, in addition to lacking bowling, The Eleanor has a nostalgia component that Dave & Buster’s doesn’t offer, he said.
“We get to bring in some pinball machines that they don’t have,” Stein said, including some of his favorites. “We have some of the old arcade games that I used to play in the mid-80s and early 90s.
“Beyond that, it’s really just making sure that we have excellent food and beverage, not only from the execution side, but from the service side,” he added. “I think that’s what missing at most places, even places that have, like I said, bits and pieces of what we offer.”
Stein, who grew up in northern Virginia, got to know Silver Spring as many of his industry friends got married, had children and left D.C. to buy homes in Silver Spring.
“I started coming up to visit friends and I thought, ‘Okay, there’s a lot that’s happened since I was a kid,’” Stein said. When he saw the Ellsworth space, he thought it was perfect for a second location.
The menu is similar to that at the original location at 100 Florida Ave. N.E. One difference is that the Silver Spring location has a wood-fired oven, which allows the restaurant to offer a variety of wood-fired flatbreads and a wood-fired Arctic char (and wood-fired mushrooms as a side dish).
One of the highlights (and most expensive item at $59) is the raw bar’s Treehorn Plateau, which features lobster, cocktail shrimp, and mussels ceviche, with clams and oysters on the half shell.
Another raw bar choice is a dish of chips and caviar, with the traditional garnishes.
Other appetizers include mussels, General Tso’s chicken wings, nachos, pork and shrimp dumplings, hushpuppies elote loco style and additional choices from $7–$9.
A burger, “loaded” hot dogs, a Reuben, lobster roll, po’ boys, and a spaghetti sandwich are among the sandwich selections, including a vegetarian burger (price range, $12–$26).
Entrees include a shellfish stew, steak, linguine and clams, eggplant Parmesan, and crispy lamb shank at prices ranging from $15–$27.
Stein expects to employ about 30 people once the restaurant is up and fully running. There will be a soft opening this weekend from 4 p.m.–1 a.m. prior to Monday’s grand opening. There are plans to begin offering lunch and brunch in March.
For the first two weeks, The Eleanor will be open from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. for happy hours and dinner service. Starting March 2, the operating hours will be 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily.
“I just want to make sure that everybody has an unexpectedly pleasant experience from a place that also has bowling and pinball machines,” Stein said.
Photos by Mike Diegel unless otherwise noted. (Click on the images below to enlarge.)