Restaurant’s lunch service shines through dark economy

Published 4:32 am Thursday, February 19, 2009

By Staff
Riverwalk Steaks expands offerings, service, hours
Managing Editor
Larry Picard said the words with an air of resigned incredulity as he stood Wednesday in the kitchen of Riverwalk Steaks, the Washington restaurant he owns with his wife Judy.
Picard, 61, wasn’t really out of food — just what some might call the really good stuff.
But there’s a sparkling silver lining to his predicament: Riverwalk Steaks began serving lunch just last week after eight years serving only dinner. The fact Picard had run out of the most popular lunchtime specials merely testified to the newness of his expanded service — and his flock of new customers.
Despite the temporary snafu, consider Picard’s new endeavor a positive economic story set against a ghastly regional and national backdrop. The optimistic restauranteur said he has averaged about 50 lunchtime customers a day since inaugurating the service. He hopes to serve from 75 to 100 noon customers a day as word spreads about his new hours.
Picard decided to expand his service because he already had a refurbished facility at the corner of Bridge and Main streets to accommodate a lunch crowd, and he wanted to serve food he said he couldn’t find elsewhere.
The lunch menu includes “country-style” entrees such as meatloaf, hamburger steaks, liver/onions, fried pork chops and a variety of down-home Southern vegetables.
Picard’s said his enthusiasm for the new venture was bolstered by the restaurant’s continued dinner success and his decision in October to fight the bleak financial outlook by offering less-expensive dinner specials.
But despite his optimism, Picard realizes he’s taking a chance. He recently hired four more employees to stabilize his staff of 12, and he figures he’ll give the new enterprise three to six months to prove itself.
By good, Picard means $6.99. That lunch special includes an entree, two side dishes and a beverage. Desserts are $1 extra.
On Wednesday, as he scurried in the kitchen to prepare additional entrees, a new waitress — Brenda Till — came back to tell him a customer had not received what he had ordered — pork chops.
But peering around, he managed to find one more. He placed it on Till’s plate, with the admonition: “Tell him to eat it and shut the hell up.”
Picard laughed: He knew this particular customer.
Pork chops, anyone?
Lunchtime at Riverwalk Steaks is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner is served Monday through Friday from 5 to 8:30 p.m. and until 9 p.m. on Saturday. The restaurant is closed Sunday.
Photo cutline: Larry Picard, owner of Riverwalk Steaks in Washington, chats with customer Susan Chase as she finishes her lunch, Wednesday. (WDN Photo/Paul Dunn)