The owner of Slash Run, the burger bar and small rock ‘n’ roll venue in Petworth that’s known for loading up thick, premium beef patties with toppings like fried onion rings and fine ground coffee, plans to open a similar spot in Brookland with more amenities for touring musicians.
Christine Lilyea says she hopes to start serving punky pub grub, cocktails, and local craft beers in the former Steel Plate space at 3523 12th Street NE by January. By naming the incoming venue the Runaway, she’s establishing a connection back to Slash Run and nodding to the trailblazing, all-female rock outfit that launched Joan Jett in the 1970s. Lilyea jokes that leather jackets will be a requirement.
The owner also promises the new bar will feel familiar to Slash Run regulars who keep coming back for foot-long Kobe beef hot dogs and concoctions like the Otto’s Shrunken Head burger, built with Creekstone Farms beef, Korean barbecue, pork rinds, avocado, and pineapple relish.
“The burgers are going to get weirder, like, in a good way,” Lilyea says. “We couldn’t add more burgers to Slash Run because the menu is already pretty vast, so we decided this is what we know best, so we’ll just continue with this. We came up with all these rad ideas.”
While Lilyeah works on outfitting the Runaway, she’ll test out some of those ideas at Slash Run. That includes a cherry compote-topped Cherry Bomb burger that Lilyeah says “was a huge hit” a few weeks ago. She’s also testing out a black bun that gets its color from coconut-activated charcoal.
With a multi-level space, Lilyeah says she can divvy up the Runaway into a dedicated music venue side, a dining room, and a patio. She expects to cater to more visiting bands with a green room and a bigger soundstage than the one at Slash Run. There’s a DJ space for spinning vinyl, and the bar will pour spirits distilled in D.C.
Lilyeah started out at Slash Run as a manager and bought the bar from founding partners Jackie Greenbaum, Gordon Banks, Nick Nazdin, and Ellen Cox in 2018. Lilyeah says Slash Run has scraped by on to-go orders, and she’s slowly started to book one or two bands a month. She recently moved to Brookland, which marked a return to her first neighborhood in D.C. when she arrived 20 years ago. Getting through the pandemic so far has given her the confidence to take on a second project.
“If you asked me [if I could do this] like a year ago, I’d have been like, ‘no way,’” Lilyeah says. “If I can survive this, I feel like I can survive anything.”