Ascend Hospitality Group takes service to the next level at Stanford’s Steak and beyond By Jillian Chandler
Stanford’s Steak, part of Ascend Hospitality Group (AHG)—a Black- and female-led independent restaurant group based in Bellevue, Washington—opened in Tacoma in November of 2021. Housed in the historic Waddell Building, which was commissioned and built in 1892, it is a space Stanford’s Steak strives to revive and honor—both the building’s and Tacoma’s heritage. “For AHG, community and service matter, so who better to protect a historical site than us?!” smiles Elaina Morris, CEO and president of Ascend Hospitality Group.
Guests are truly in for an unmatched dining experience when choosing to take a seat at this polished-casual contemporary steakhouse and lounge, where wood and brick meets modern design, and is complemented by the soft emerald velvet furniture and gold-accented finishes. At Stanford’s Steak, the restaurant provides a high-end feel without the fine-dining prices.
The menu features hand-trimmed premium cuts, creative share plates, a sommelier-curated wine list and inventive cocktails. They proudly serve USDA Certified 1855 Black Angus Beef in a variety of cuts, like the showstopping 30-ounce bone-in Tomahawk rib-eye, baseball-cut top sirloin and filet mignon. In addition, Stanford’s Steak continues to honor the culinary bones of the original and tenured Stanford’s brand and its hallmarks like the Pepper Bacon Mac & Cheese, Iconic Cheese Bread and the shining star—the Rock-Salted Roasted Prime Rib.
Both the wine list and draft beer selection focuses on Washington and Oregon producers, and the cocktail menu features house specialties like the Huckleberry Raindrop, Hemingway, and twists on classics like the Lavender Cosmo and American Mule.
“At AHG, our purpose is to create an environment where our people, our community and our guests feel valued, with the goal of making the hospitality industry hospitable again,” notes Elaina. “We bring people together through culinary experiences that raise the bar and improve the standards of the hospitality industry. We strive to offer what hasn’t been done before and elevate what has.”
AHG is a collection of concepts ranging from fine dining to quick serve and is proud to employ more than 800 people in Washington, Oregon, Arizona and Utah.
“Team matters” is a core goal at AHG, and for the Stanford’s family of brands (which includes Stanford’s Steak, their legacy steakhouse Stanford’s with locations in North Seattle and two outside Portland, Oregon, as well as AHG’s newest concept—AQUA TERRA Steak + Sushi in Salt Lake City), their culinary teams are a blend of almost 100 years of culinary talent pulled from across the company. Chef Scott Letourneau is the corporate executive chef for the Stanford’s family of brands, with much of the menu at Stanford’s Steak a reflection of his vision and talent.
With a commitment to elevating the local communities they serve, Ascend Hospitality Group launched AHG Cares—the philanthropic arm of their company in 2021. “Through AHG Cares, we are able to hone our philanthropic efforts through various programs and collaborations,” shares Elaina.
Within that, Stanford’s Steak recently launched a Community Cocktail program, in which $1 from each Community Cocktail sold is donated to a featured nonprofit partner. For the inaugural cocktail, now available, bartender Anna Benford created the vivacious Earl Grey Blues, benefiting downtown Tacoma’s Rainbow Center and its education program.
While AHG’s main philanthropic focus is on education, and typically centered on youth, the company is also an advocate of equity and diversity. “By partnering with Stanford’s Steak neighborhood partner, Rainbow Center and its Education Program (RainbowCntr.org/educate), we are able to support understanding, awareness and inclusivity for all,” Elaina says. “As we come into our second year at Stanford’s Steak, it’s important to our team and to our restaurant to more fully connect with the Tacoma community and found the Rainbow Center to be the perfect inaugural beneficiary for this program.”
Through Stanford’s Steak and AHG Cares, the company is working with city officials, city influencers, local nonprofits, Travel Tacoma, and more, to “broaden their understanding of how Stanford’s Steak can best show up for Tacoma,” Elaina adds.
She goes on to share that this spring, they plan to reinvigorate the community through those partnerships but also by supporting both local brands and local artists, inside and outside of the restaurant. AHG Cares is actively working with local community partners to identify other nonprofits needing support, particularly those in education and youth services.
“Within our community, it’s about showing up—when we open a restaurant, we do so with our mission, our purpose and our passions,” affirms Elaina. “We are there to do more than just serve food. We are there to serve the community.”
Stanford's Steak 1502 Pacific Avenue Tacoma, Washington 98402 253.352.0030 StanfordsSteak.com