By Jeff Maisey
First there was the gas-line explosion in Selden Arcade that zapped the historic building’s electrical system and created structural damage. Then came the delayed construction of the adjoining hotel/conference center project of The Main and refurbishment of the front façade of Selden Arcade. But after a three-month closing period, a complete interior redesign and neck surgery for owner/operator Phillip Decker, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men have put finally downtown Norfolk’s beloved d’Egg Diner back together again.
Decker originally opened d’Egg Diner in January of 2004. The concept of an urban diner was inspired by a trip he made with his family to Chicago – the same visit to the Windy City that his mother, Bess Decker, encountered painted cow sculptures throughout and developed the arty Mermaids idea for Norfolk.
Phillip Decker had worked in the Virginia Beach nightlife scene as a partner in Croc’s restaurant. The transition from being bar operator, where 18-hour shifts can be the norm, to running a breakfast/lunch diner proved beneficial, especially for someone planning to start a family of his own.
“In the bar business you have to be there (in the morning) because of deliveries, to operate the business, and to count the money (at the end of the night) to make sure nobody takes anything,” he said. “Here, it all happens within a nine-hour period. I don’t think my family unit would still be a unit if I were still in the bar business.”
The diner has undergone three renovations in its 13 years of operation. The current reworking of the interior was done to coincide with the grand opening of The Main.
“My wife, Shannon, was the engine behind the rebranding of the place,” Decker said. “Everything is new from the booths, tables, chairs, floors, walls, ceilings and countertop.”
Perhaps the only thing not new is the exposed brickwork on the support columns that was discovered during reconstruction of the diner.
“We looks behind some of the walls and found some incredibly old brick from the 1870s when this building was built as a music school,” said Decker.
The d’Egg menu for downtown is now exactly the same as the 2-sided one used at d’Egg’s second location in Larchmont.
Breakfast specials include D’Local Yokal (2 eggs any style, choice of meat, side dish, bread, $7), D’Feast (2 pancakes or French toast, 3 eggs, choice of meat, side dish, $9.80) and Ribeye Steak & Eggs ($14.50) among others.
Benedicts (poached egg on an English muffin topped with house made hollandaise sauce with a side dish) are offered as Classic (ham, $9.50), Norfolk (tomato, asparagus, crab, $13) and VA Beach (avocado, spinach, tomato, red peppers, $10).
My personal favorite is the house made Corned Beef Hash ($4.80). Like all of the new, updated menu items the focus is on homemade food.
“I’d say 90% of the menu now is made-from-scratch,” Decker said. “It’s made a difference on the product coming out of the kitchen.”
In addition to a variety of pancakes, French toast, breakfast sandwiches and omelets offered, try a Steak & Egg Burrito ($8) or Shrimp & Grits ($7).
Healthy label items include Mediterranean Omelette (using egg whites) & Fruit Cup ($10.25), Steel Cut Oats (crème freiche, raisins, berries, brown sugar, $7.25) and Breakfast Sundae (Greek yogurt, granola, honey, berries, $8.75).
While breakfast items are sold anytime 7 am to 3 pm (d’Egg’s operating hours), the straight-forward lunch menu is topped with Meatloaf ($9.50), Corned Beef & Swiss sandwich ($8.75), Bacon Chicken Cheddar Melt ($9), Turkey Avocado wrap ($9.50), Tuna salad ($8), and the two-leveled D’Hamburger ($7.50).
And to get d’morning started off right, there are mimosas made with fresh squeezed juices.
Uncle Pete is surely smiling from above.