When Greg Lloyd was executive chef at Logan Circle’s Le Diplomate, he oversaw one of DC’s most high-volume kitchens, serving a regular clientele of high-profile names. His new gig has a decidedly different pace: He’s making sandwiches at Ballston cafe and flower shop Poppyseed Rye.
Lloyd says he started looking for other options when he was temporarily laid off from Stephen Starr’s French brasserie—where he’d worked since 2016—during the city’s initial Covid shutdown. “It was a little nerve-racking. But at that point in time, everybody was scared. Some people still are,” Lloyd says. “I was looking for something entrepreneurial, maybe a location to start a butcher shop.”
Lloyd called about a space near his Reston home. It turned out the real estate broker was dating entrepreneur Scott Parker, a co-owner of fried chicken spot Roy Boys, Nighthawk Brewery & Pizza, and Don Tito Mexican cantina, and other businesses. She suggested they talk, and the conversations morphed into a partnership. Lloyd has since become a managing partner in Poppyseed Rye and will be working with Parker’s group on other ventures. They already have a restaurant in the works in Baltimore’s Fells Point.
Lloyd started his new gig in August and recently revamped the menu at Poppyseed Rye, which opened last November. Some best-sellers like smoked turkey with brie and roasted red peppers are sticking around. But the Philly native is taking inspiration from his hometown for a new roast pork, aged provolone, and broccoli rabe sandwich as well as a pork roll breakfast sandwich. In fact, Lloyd has rolled out an entirely new breakfast menu that includes homemade biscuits and gravy, breakfast burritos, and a quiche of the day to go with full coffee service. Expect some lunch specials, too, such as Vietnamese lettuce wraps or tuna poke.
Lloyd isn’t ready to share too much about the pair’s forthcoming Baltimore restaurant, but he says it will be a casual spot on the water featuring “something that everybody knows, loves, and will really, really enjoy.”
Meanwhile, Lloyd says his dream is still to run a butcher shop, but that it’s not logistically or economically feasible with the state of the meat market since the start of the pandemic. In the meantime, he’s fulfilling another dream.
“If someone was to ask me what I wanted to do and what my favorite cuisine or food to cook is, it would be comfort food,” Lloyd says. “It makes people happy.”