Appetite: Joe Theismann’s Restaurant Spruces Up Over the Summer

Appetite: Joe Theismann’s Restaurant Spruces Up Over the Summer

A 34-year-old Alexandria sports-pub icon is getting a facelift this summer, sprucing up its surroundings while both perking up and maintaining its current menu and appeal. Joe Theismann’s Restaurant, a staple of upper King Street for decades, will stay open throughout the endeavor, giving customers both a place to visit as well as a sneak peek into what the restaurant will become when the scaffolding comes down.

Alexandria Restaurant Partners’ Scott Shaw says the summertime spruce-up is necessary to keep the pub in its best shape as the area continues to grow.

“We see nothing but growth down by the Metro and Carlyle and so forth,” he said. “While the restaurant’s successful, it was fairly dated on the interior. …There was a long-term risk that it wasn’t attracting enough new customers.”

Over the years, Theismann’s has become a hodgepodge of sports-themed memorabilia, lacking a singular focus. Shaw says that one thing that was missing was, interestingly, the restaurant’s namesake himself.

“We’re embracing Joe. It’s a funny thing, but when you walk in the restaurant,” there’s currently hardly any reference to Theismann, Shaw said.

Along with a renewed focus on Theismann himself — the back room will become a “hall of fame” of sorts in honor of the former Washington Redskins quarterback — the restaurant will sport a renewed look, as well. Nothing will be left untouched, Shaw said, from the tables and chairs to the upholstery, carpet and ceiling.

Most noticeable will be the creation of a new island bar space. While the existing bar undergoes renovation, Theismann’s will sport a pop-up bar this summer complete with televisions and plenty of beer, ensuring thirsty Alexandrians (and tourists, too) can get their fill throughout the construction.

The menu won’t remain untouched, either, throughout the renovation process, receiving a bit of a facelift itself, Shaw says.

“We continue to tweak the menu. We’re trying to make the menu more relevant for a wider and in some cases younger audience,” he said. For instance, “Tuna poke bowl is not something you might have thought of as a staple at Theismann’s.”

Perhaps most notably, the restaurant will close for only about four days during the entire renovation process, Shaw said. With the months-long Metro closure, this summer seemed like the best time to take the plunge, he added, with the goal of being Alexandria’s go-to hub for Washington sports teams.

“We wanted to refocus the restaurant on great food, Joe Theismann, and the next 34 years,” he said.

Hope Nelson owns and operates the Kitchen Recessionista blog, located at Email her at