Local bar undergoes metamorphosis

The breakup of a popular reggae band led to changes at Dinkytown hot spot the Steak Knife.

Allie Winter

One Dinkytown hangout has changed dramatically in recent years.

The Steak Knife, located on Fourth Street Southeast, used to accommodate swarms of people that wound around the street corner. But these days, the party crowd frequents the former hot spot less often.

As a place known in the past for being a bar, especially famous for its Thursday Reggae Nights, guests spent many nights and dollars at the establishment.

Mike Hoang, a communications studies senior, was a frequent visitor to the Steak Knife.

“I went every single Thursday night freshman year, for Reggae Night,” Hoang said.

But he said he hasn’t been back in quite a while.

“There’s never anyone there; it looks dead,” Hoang said.

Owner Tony Nicklow said the restaurant changed when it stopped bar hours, a decision made after the reggae band broke up.

“By being open late at night, you attract more people and they then come back for lunch or dinner,” Nicklow said.

He and his partner George Atsidakos tried to find another band, but nothing surfaced, Nicklow said.

The restaurant then got rid of music altogether because Atsidakos, living in Wisconsin, grew tired of the daily commute.

However, Nicklow stressed that the restaurant isn’t struggling. The Steak Knife now offers all-day breakfast and is still a hotspot for lunch breaks, he said. But Nicklow knows the restaurant’s potential with music involved.

“If you get the right music, you can be doing really well at night,” he said.

The Steak Knife retains its beer and wine license – the only type of license it’s ever had, Nicklow said, wanting to dispel rumors.

“We didn’t get in any trouble. We had a little management issue,” he said. “I haven’t left – I’m still here.”

And after live music’s hiatus from the restaurant, Nicklow said he plans to get it back, along with late-night hours, by summertime.

“We’re here to stay and if people want music back, we’ll do our best to get it back,” he said.

Jordan Wolterstorff, a Steak Knife employee for the past five months, said he’s excited about the thought of music reappearing.

“I think it’s a great idea to get music back. It’ll definitely generate more business,” he said.

Wolterstorff said bringing back music could bring back the crazy Thursday nights.

“Right now they’re mediocre. We’re steady on Thursdays, but not busy,” he said.

Nicklow said he loves his restaurant and plans to keep it right where it is.

“We’re still here,” he said.