Clyde’s Celebrates 50 Years As D.C.’s ‘American Bar’

Clyde's of Georgetown GM David Del Bene, Mayor Vincent Gray and Tom Meyer of Clyde's. | Robert Devaney

As Yogi Berra fondly said, it was almost like “déjà vu all over again.” The front bar at Clyde’s of Georgetown was full and busy, the back rooms and the omelet room and the atrium were bustling and young waiters and waitresses scurried about carrying coffee and plates with Clyde’s omelettes and eggs Benedict.

The scene could have been a 1980s Georgetown Saturday morning rising out of and recovering from a Friday night. It was something better. It was a Monday morning — Aug. 12, 2013 — and Clyde’s was celebrating its 50th anniversary. That’s right: 50 years, and 14 restaurants and counting.

At 3236 M St., NW, is and was, as Clyde’s board chairman Sally Davidson, widow of the late, founder Stuart Davidson, recounted, “where my husband turned a biker bar into a Georgetown fixture. This is where it all started.”

“It’s a Washington legend now, and we’re delighted to be a part of the history and success of D.C.,” said Tom Meyer, president of Clyde’s Restaurant Group, looking around at the scene in the atrium. Soon enough, an ebullient Mayor Vincent Gray came and made it official. “This is such a great part of Washington, such a legend, and it’s part of the city that’s becoming world class, thanks to folks like this,” he said. “I’ve been here a lot. Look all over this city. There’s the downtown Clyde’s, there’s the Old Ebbitt Grill and the Hamilton. Isn’t that one something special? We’re right up there now with San Francisco, Chicago, even New York. We’re getting known for our restaurants and food.”

Gray made it official, along with the District Council, proclaiming August 12 “Clyde’s of Georgetown Day.” Clyde’s got the party going with some free breakfast food in the morning and kept it up with nostalgic menu items from the past, as well as the publication of a book, “How We Do Business: Clyde’s Primer for Beating the Odds in the Restaurant Business,” by J. Garrett Glover. Among many, Clyde’s could show off some new honors—it got a 2013 Honorary Milestone RAMMY Award this year.

“I love being a part of this whole history,” said waiter Daniel Leimberg, a George Washington University student from St. Louis. “It’s a terrific place to be.”

Gray noted the fact that Clyde’s 50th birthday was historic and that it coincided with the upcoming 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. “I was there, sure, I was,” the mayor told us. “I was 19, going to GW and being part of that, being there was just a tremendous experience. That was the greatest speech I’ve ever heard in my life, the most inspirational.”

There will be more inspiration and retelling of history this evening at Clyde’s of Georgetown as former employees gather for another birthday celebration.

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