Situated on the edge of Georgetown University’s campus, The Tombs is a neighborhood restaurant by day and a popular gathering place for Georgetown students by night. Along with 1789, The Tombs is built in a Federal-style townhouse dating from the mid-1800s. When Georgetown alumnus Richard McCooey founded The Tombs in 1962, he named it after a mention in T.S. Eliot’s poem “Bustopher Jones: The Cat About Town.” Whether its students watching a Hoya basketball game, Georgetown alumni sharing a pitcher of lager or neighbors enjoying Sunday brunch after visiting Holy Trinity Church, Tombs traditions run deep.
Located on the corner of 36th and Prospect Streets, adjacent to Georgetown University, The Tombs shares its property with 1789 Restaurant, a fine dining restaurant in a federal-style townhouse, and Fitzgerald’s, a cocktail-centric bar and restaurant.
The trio of restaurants was founded in 1960 by a devoted and creative Georgetown alumnus, Richard McCooey, when he acquired the buildings – a Chinese laundry on the corner and Hilltop Cafe next door. Together they occupied what was originally a Federal-style home, dating from the mid-eighteen hundreds. McCooey gutted the properties, dug out a basement, and reinforced the building with steel and concrete. The newly excavated downstairs area became The Tombs, and the upstairs became the 1789 Restaurant. Both were opened in the summer of 1962.
Mr. McCooey chose the name for The Tombs as a reference to T.S. Eliot’s poem Bustopher Jones: The Cat About Town. In the poem, Bustopher Jones, a plump, impeccably dressed feline, strolls around the streets of London, prowling various bars for scraps and leftovers. “If he looks full of gloom then he’s lunched at the Tomb/ On cabbage, rice pudding and mutton” the poem reads. McCooey gained the nickname of “Bustopher Cat” while in the Air Force because of his penchant for dressing well. “The Tombs” only seemed appropriate.
In 1985, Clyde’s Restaurant Group purchased and remodeled the properties. Memorabilia of Georgetown University’s football and crew teams and colorful sweeps flank the walls, and it has the characteristic look of a great sporting saloon with high-backed booths and vintage leaded glass. Classic crew and sporting prints add perfect accents to the University’s antiques, delighting the Hoya regulars.
By day and in early evening, The Tombs is a favorite with University faculty and neighbors. It’s not unusual to see Jesuits and students at the same table sharing pitchers of lagers and buffalo wings. It remains a popular student and alumni destination after a home game on campus, as well as a prime location to watch Hoya basketball games on TV. Later at night, it becomes a popular gathering place for Georgetown students, and even is included on the campus meal plan. On Sunday mornings, brunch at The Tombs after a visit to historic Holy Trinity Church is a tradition with Georgetown neighbors.
However, the menu makes The Tombs more than a college bar. Incorporating Clyde’s classics such as buffalo wings, juicy burgers, chili and chicken #1, the menu appeals to students and to its neighbors. The Tombs participates in Clyde’s Farm Program, and incorporates fresh and seasonal ingredients from local farms in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Taking advantage of its upscale upstairs neighbor 1789 Restaurant, The Tombs serves desserts from their bakery and utilizes the 1789’s award-winning wine list.
Ever since we transformed a two-room watering hole into a preeminent menu-driven saloon almost 60 years ago, Clyde’s Restaurant Group has always seen Washington as more than a city of politics. Behind every one of the 12 properties owned and operated by Clyde’s Restaurant Group is a concept designed to offer a truly memorable dining experience in Washington.
Perhaps that is why Clyde’s Restaurant Group has remained one of the most successful and enduring restaurant companies in the nation. While we’ve certainly created a formula that works, what keeps us evolving are the friends we’ve made along the way, the energy of our staff, and the continued growth of a place we lovingly call home.
Nestled between the bustle of Georgetown’s commercial corridor, numerous historical landmarks, embassies, and a prestigious university campus, 1789 is a landmark tucked behind the facade of a renovated Federal townhouse. Behind its unassuming exterior, you’ll find four inviting dining rooms and a progressive menu of palate-tempting American creations.
What started as a boarding house with a guest list that reads like a Who’s Who of American History, the Old Ebbitt became and remains one of Washington’s favorite and most successful saloons. Insiders, loyal locals, and visitors from around the globe continue to flock to this legendary stand-around bar and restaurant for the company, the museum-quality collection of memorabilia and art, and above all, a menu that reflects the best of American cuisine.
No longer just a city for politics, Washington, DC is a magnet for entertainment and legendary performances. With a personality split between music and memorable dining, The Hamilton is where talent, tastemakers, and true fans enjoy great talent both on stage and on the menu. This is where sushi, charcuterie, and seasonal and regional American fare are served with a side of incredible entertainment.
Enjoy a glass of Veuve Clicquot, an interesting cocktail or a Japanese whisky in this newly opened restaurant and bar. A great place for drinks before dinner at 1789, a casual dinner with friends, or a night cap.
Newly launched Clyde’s Kitchens are virtual restaurants brought to you by the chefs of Clyde’s Restaurant Group providing carryout-only menus designed & tested for delivery. Making the most out of our state-of-the-art cooking facilities at convenient locations and expert chefs and cooks during the pandemic, these “pop-up” concepts create jobs, control costs, and help support our decades-long supplier relationships.
graham holdings company
In 2019 Clyde’s Restaurant Group became part of Graham Holdings, formerly The Washington Post Company. Based in Arlington, VA, Graham Holdings Company (NYSE:GHC) is a diversified education and media company whose operations include educational services; television broadcasting; online, print and local TV news; home health and hospice care; and manufacturing.