- The Washington Times - Friday, November 18, 2005

Two longtime Washington restaurants, Blackie’s House of Beef and Lulu’s Club Mardi Gras, are being sold, their owners announced yesterday.

The restaurants, which are owned by the Auger family, have been Washington dining institutions for the past 59 years. They were started by Ulysses G. “Blackie” Auger Sr., who died last year at the age of 83 from complications from a heart attack.

The current owners, Mr. Auger’s children, plan to sell the restaurants and the Washington Marriott Hotel to an undisclosed company. The transaction is expected to be completed by early January.

“It’s an emotional decision,” said Gregory U. Auger, Mr. Auger’s son, president and co-owner of the Washington hotel-management company in charge of the hotel and restaurants.

Mr. Auger, with USA Management Inc., would not disclose the buyer or terms of the deal. He said he was uncertain what would happen to the restaurants under new ownership.

USA Management decided to sell the restaurants with the hotel, which is managed by Bethesda hotel manager Marriott International Inc., because they are connected to the hotel on 22nd Street in Northwest.

“It’s impossible to separate them,” Mr. Auger said, adding the hotel was built over Blackie’s in 1981.

The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington called the announcement “an evolution of sorts.”

“Yes, we have some changes, but changes are good,” said Executive Director Lynne Breaux. Despite the loss of the family-owned restaurants, Ms. Breaux said a number of the estimated 3,000 eateries in the District are operated by families or local owners. She was not aware of any future plans for the restaurants.

Blackie’s evolved from a business Ulysses Auger bought, which was called Minute Grill. The eatery became Blackie’s in 1953, when it started offering roast beef and prime rib to customers.

The restaurant, known for its stained-glass windows and garish interior, became a steak-house institution in the area. Lulu’s, an extension of Blackie’s known for its New Orleans cuisine, originally opened as Deja Vu in 1976 and changed its name, the same as Ulysses Augur’s surviving wife, Lulu, in 1992.

While the Auger family opened several restaurants using the Blackie trademark name, Gregory Auger said the current focus for his company was in hotel construction and management.

The company, which owns and runs the Courtyard by Marriott in Springfield, is building one hotel in Winchester, Va., and two in Gettysburg, Pa.

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