When Chef Jeffrey Stout first founded an LLC in 2016 for his forthcoming restaurant, he was most concerned about finding the right location.
Just shy of five years later, Stout will open BE.STÉAK.Ă Friday in Campbell’s Pruneyard Shopping Center with a staff of 20. But the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed how the restaurant will operate, the veteran chef said in an interview this week.
Stout built his career in the Bay Area as a pioneer of the Japanese steakhouse model, serving as both founding chef and chief operating officer of Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino and San Francisco from 2004 to 2012 before opening Orchard City Kitchen in the Pruneyard in 2013. In those roles, Stout achieved critical acclaim, became favorite among local diners and was awarded a Michelin star in three consecutive years and a Michelin Bib Gourmand for three years.
Still, the South Bay local thought he could create a better steakhouse experience than he’d done before. BE.STÉAK.Ă was born.
The name stems from an Americanized version of the Italian word for “steak,” and hints at the restaurant’s other specialty: handcrafted pastas. Stout and longtime partner Chef Patrick Capurro have crafted a made-to-order menu with a $4 onion soup and a $65 5 oz. sliced American washugyu striploin steak and everything in between.
“I wanted to separate ourselves from the crowd of steakhouses that keep popping up, because everything’s popping up as ‘Japanese steakhouse,’ which are A5 beef,” he said. “They get expensive, not because of the price per pound, but because of the ounces on the plate.”
Stout instead wanted BE.STÉAK.Ă to break that mold by offering menu with items that don’t end up in to-go boxes and can be ordered without shelling out an entire paycheck.
“The premise behind this steakhouse was to do things differently, to redefine the steakhouse, to redefine the service,” he said. “There is a way to do this, based on our experience from Orchard City Kitchen, to provide fine dining service but without necessarily being overly in-your-face.”
Orchard City Kitchen, also in Campbell’s Pruneyard Shopping Center, is a one-minute walk from the soon-to-open BE.STÉAK.Ă, which is opening in the former Outback Steakhouse location. The proximity couldn't have worked out better for Stout, but the move-in required an expansion, came with construction challenges and structural issues. Then, as opening day approached, COVID-19 struck, leaving the entire process in confusion.
“My mindset is such that, let’s try to launch this restaurant the best we can in the worst of times,” Stout said.
BE.STÉAK.Ă is outfitted with two outdoor heated and wind-sheltered patios with seating for up to 60 guests—all socially distanced, Stout assures. Electro-static sprayers with sanitizer for guests have been installed. Stout set up what he jokingly referred to as a “kill room,” where his team will also place items to be sanitized by ultraviolet lights between guests.
While the pandemic challenges are far from over, Stout says his new restaurant will be the experience that so many diners need—one where they enjoy every aspect of the experience, from the feel of the menu to the salt-and-pepper shakers.
“Our goal is to be able to provide a mentality of ‘taste more, eat less,’” Stout said. “There’s no rules here with dining, we want to be able to provide a high-level of service and cuisine, but be very approachable.”
BE.STÉAK.Ă will open its patio dining on Feb. 12. Those who’d still rather stay home can order one of the restaurant’s pickup packages: a five-course prix fixe or a Valentine’s dinner for two. More information is available on the restaurant’s website.