From Agua Viva to Flat Iron

By Derrick Perkins

Restaurateur Scott Parker is staking his reputation on Old Town’s demand for a traditional steakhouse.

Parker has teamed up with Jon Rennich to launch chef Michael Cordero’s latest venture in Alexandria — Flat Iron Steak & Saloon. The eatery is rising in the ashes of Cordero’s Latin fusion restaurant Agua Viva, which struggled for two years on the 800 block of King Street.

While Old Town is celebrated for a plethora of dining options, co-owners Parker, Rennich and Cordero saw a dearth of steak-centric restaurants in the neighborhood and decided to take advantage of the opportunity.

“Before we made the decision to flip [Agua Viva], we came out to check out the nightlife,” Parker said. “We saw an area where we could expand.”

Agua Viva closed shop earlier this year after a troubled run in Old Town. At the time, Cordero admitted his Latin fusion fare might have been a bad fit for the neighborhood.

Early plans for the revamped restaurant emphasized steaks, oysters and scotch. Cordero wanted it to evoke a mid-20th-century steakhouse in Chicago or New York City. While the saloon — which celebrated a soft opening last month — does sport a variety of scotch and bourbons, the owners ended up shelving plans for a raw oyster bar.

“We have a small shop here, and we want to create our own feel,” Parker said. “Frankly, we respect the [other] seafood options in the area.”

The co-owners hope that the food and atmosphere will appeal equally to locals and visitors. But Parker knows they have their work cut out for them.

The hardest part about serving up steaks? Everyone becomes an expert, he said.

“I think there are so many different ways to cook a lot of different dishes out there, but people are very unforgiving about a steak,” he said. “Any steak-eater becomes the expert.”

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