Ever since we transformed a two-room watering hole into a preeminent menu-driven saloon over 50 years ago, Clyde's Restaurant Group has always seen Washington as more than a city of politics. Behind every one of the 14 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 privately-owned 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.
A Few Awards
- Wine Spectator Award of Excellence
- Wine Enthusiast Magazine Restaurant Award
- Top Rated, DiRona & Zagat Surveys for Service, Décor, Food and Most Popular
We're pleased that more menus are featuring words like "locally-raised" and "sustainable", because we were one of the first in Washington to use them. Long ago, Clyde's Restaurant Group chose to bypass traditional commercial produce routes and opt for locally-raised, farm-grown vegetables and fruits. Not only does this provide fresher ingredients for our chefs and guests, we consider it part of our ongoing collaboration with the local economy to design dining experiences that support the regions growth. In addition to our produce, our legendary burgers are made using hormone-free, farm-raised beef sourced right here in the area.
Each property is as unique as the neighborhood it inhabits, with our selections further complementing the wide variety of flavors, textures and courses we prepare. Over a decade ago, we created the Clyde's Restaurant Group Core Wine Program. With sorting performed once a year and encompassing several rounds of tastings and pairings by noted wine consultants and published wine authors Michael Franz and Paul Lukacs, we know of no other restaurant company in North America that conducts a process as extensive and rigorous.
Our guests range from the stylish to the relaxed, from tourists in tennis shoes to groups of suits closing out the week with a cocktail. One of the reasons for our popularity among Washington's diverse residents is our ability to welcome anyone and turn even the most casual sip or snack into something worth savoring. The only exception for our non-existent dress code would be our jacket recommendation for gentlemen dining at 1789 Restaurant. Some things are worth the extra effort.
The Way M Street Was
Georgetown in the 1960s was not the bustling haven for upscale shopping and tourism that it is today. It's hard to imagine a dapper Harvard grad sitting down for a beer with a few burley bikers in a small watering hole on M Street, but that's exactly what happened when the young Stuart Davidson decided that Georgetown deserved its own neighborhood saloon. The eccentric aristocrat would lease the two-room B&J Restaurant, rename it after the Scottish river Clyde and transform it into a place for diners and drinkers who, like himself, "would rather eat in a saloon than drink in a restaurant."
The Tradition Begins
The very same summer that brought the "I Have A Dream" speech to Washington, Clyde's opened and immediately began transforming the city's bar scene. When fall arrived, John Laytham, a bright, ambitious Georgetown University student was hired as a dishwasher at the company he would never leave. Introducing Georgetown to Sunday brunch would not only win Laytham a coveted spot as a bartender, but became one of the many reasons why, in only five years, he would become Davidson's partner and co-owner.
The Bid That Changed Everything
In 1970, the former boarding house stand-around bar, Old Ebbitt Grill, stood a city block away from the White House. What started out as a trip to bid on a collection of antique beer steins at a tax auction for the oldest saloon in the city ended up with Stuart and John becoming its new owners. Their business acumen was paired with just the right aesthetic sensibility that would transform the Old Ebbitt into the busiest saloon in DC and one of the top-grossing restaurants in the country.
A Good Idea Becomes An Iconic Group
The success of Clyde's and the Old Ebbitt Grill inspired the intrepid owners to test the strength of their neighborhood bar concept outside of the District. The hope was that their cache in the region would extend beyond the city and embrace the region's rapidly expanding suburban communities. Clyde's of Columbia, Maryland opened in 1975 and became a fixture of its community. Five years later, building a 21st century Virginia roadhouse in Tyson's Corner, Virginia would add something totally new to the family and celebrate the unmistakable style that had come to define the newly-formed Clyde's Restaurant Group (CRG).
Three Legends Join The Family
Now with four successful properties located throughout the DC metro area, Clyde's Restaurant Group turned its sights back to its birthplace. Revitalizing the 1789 Restaurant, The Tombs, and the Art Deco nightclub F. Scott's involved a takeover that would preserve the identities of the three properties but upgrade their facilities, services and menu. Not unlike the Old Ebbitt, the properties underwent extensive renovation. 1789's French cuisine was traded out for an upscale American regional menu rooted in classical culinary tradition, while The Tombs would carry the Clyde's pedigree with a menu of classic bar food, entrees and homemade desserts.
In 1987, Davidson and Laytham's next transformation would be internal. By moving primary training for service and management personnel to a single corporate training center in Georgetown, the company would initiate an exhaustive training effort that would yield better consistency and reinforce the quality that had made them a success. Next was to confront the '91 recession head-on. Despite the economic uncertainty, Clyde's of Reston, Virginia in the new Reston Town Center opened and soon thereafter, The Tomato Palace in Columbia, Maryland would be Clyde's foray into family dining.
A Loss and a Change
Clyde's of Chevy Chase, Maryland would be the last restaurant designed by the late John Richard Andrews, the independent architect who had become known throughout the city as "Clyde's Architect." Every one of Clyde's properties was infused with the spirit of saloon dining and Andrews was able to create gathering places with a sense of that history. However, Andrews' final creation for Clyde's would depart from the bar-focused dining rooms of their previous collaborations by offering Chevy Chases's mixed-age audience an experience of "yesteryear's travel." Despite the loss of Andrews, the century would close by taking his inspired craftsmanship to the next level.
A New Century
Exactly 35 years after Davidson unlatched Clyde's on M Street, the doors would open at Clyde's at Mark Center in Alexandria, Virginia. Five unique dining rooms memorializing sporting life on the water were gloriously outfitted in a way that would showcase an evolution from restaurants to full-scale sensory experiences. With an "outdoor" bar reminiscent of the beach, patrons enjoy a casual escape right here in Alexandria.
Loss of Our Founder
...and inspiration. Stuart Davidson died on August 1st, 2001 while on a holiday in Norway.
Stuart guided the company from a good, visionary idea in 1963 to the time of his death. Bringing in John Laytham as a partner was a perfect fit, a partnership which proved magical in expanding a company reflecting unique insight into current trends, new ideas, varied beautiful venues. Stuart loved the company and enjoyed working with John, Rick Andrews and the immensely talented staff they had pulled together to create the institutions reflecting his signature remark that "People would rather eat in a bar than drink in a restaurant."
Bringing the Adirondacks to Maryland
When Tower Oaks Lodge in Rockville, Maryland opened in 2002, yet another Clyde's habitat was on display, this time overlooking a 21-acre nature preserve and built inside a 200-year old, two story timber barn from Vermont. Tower Oaks Lodge reflects an approach that embodies Clyde's Restaurant Group's creative approach to dining and competitive corporate culture. Once again it brought a new and exciting dining experience and boosted perceived value at no added cost to the customer.
Back Home and Out to the Broadlands
For the first time since 1970, Clyde's returned to Washington, DC and located their next restaurant directly in the middle of the newly renewed Penn Quarter and Chinatown's colorful Friendship Gate on 7th Street. Only a year later and thirty miles northwest of Georgetown, Clyde's would open Willow Creek Farm in Broadlands, Virginia in 2006. As with Chinatown, Loudoun County was becoming an attractive commercial wellspring, whose tech and telecom professionals were in need of an inviting dining and bar experience.
And Now, For Something Completely Different
Up next, and radically different than their previous concepts, The Hamilton pairs live musical entertainment with a high-volume, high-energy, American bistro. Located just blocks from the White House at 14th and F Streets, this two-level musical emporium is an exploration of imagination, where guests will find talent both on stage and in the kitchen. With the opening of this venue, Clyde's Restaurant Group has proven, once again, that they can transform any space into a bustling, dynamic experience that goes far beyond dining.
Stuart Carleton Davidson
Stuart Carleton Davidson led an extraordinary life that prepared him well to launch and preside over what has become one of the nation's most successful and popular restaurant companies. On August 12, 1963, Davidson opened Clyde's of Georgetown because, as he said, Washington "lacked a good saloon." Restrictive D.C. liquor laws had been repealed; the town was full of a wide variety of new people drawn to Washington during the Kennedy Administration, yet there was no gathering spot. More.
Co-owner & Chairman of the Board
Shortly after her husband, and Clyde's founder, Stuart Davidson's passing in 2001, Sally Davidson became Chairman of the Board. For the past 14 years, Sally has provided experience and wisdom gained during her service to several notable organizations including American Rivers and the Washington National Opera. Raised in both Colorado and California, Sally remains passionate about the environment, ecology and energy, subjects that Clyde's continues to stay involved with through their patronage and support of local farming. Currently, Sally is on the boards of Potomac Riverkeeper Network, Rainforest Trust and Rachel's Network.
Co-owner & Chief Executive Officer
What was intended to be a part-time job for this ambitious, young visionary turned into a job that would become a life-long career. John Laytham was the inspiration behind Clyde's of Georgetown's famous Sunday brunch and the driving force behind Clyde's F&B operation, exceptional customer service and creative genius. Despite the vulnerability of the restaurant industry, Laytham's impressive pedigree is built around the success of CRG's 14 properties throughout the last half-century.
Since joining Clyde's in 1983, Tom Meyer has made a career out of fine-tuning the great American saloon menu and over the years has assumed responsibility for all aspects of Clyde's Restaurant Group's operations and strategic alliances. His creativity, solid food sense and unique instincts for customer experiences have made him an irreplaceable asset to the growth of the company as he sees every new project as an opportunity to rethink and reinvent an experience of Clyde's Restaurant Group.
Sr. Executive Officer to the President, CEO and Chairman of the Board
Much like her husband John Laytham, Virginia "Ginger" Laytham's career with Clyde's began as a host in the original Georgetown location. Industrious and effervescent, she is the perfect complement to her industrious and reserved husband as she assumes responsibility for helping Clyde's remain socially engaged throughout the region.
Director of Employee Training & Development
At the heart of our operation are the people that create, deliver and manage the experiences offered at every Clyde's property. Michael's role with Clyde's began in August of 1990 as a server at Clyde's of Tysons Corner and, like most of our senior leadership, became a career spanning decades. His influence as our chief training officer includes conducting classes in our Georgetown training center for front-of-the-house employees and overseeing the development of innovative new training methods and performance incentives including our popular Top Gun program.
Corporate Operations Manager
Claude's 41-year career with Clyde's Restaurant Group began as a waiter and grew to include nearly every job at Clyde's. As corporate operations manager since 1994, he is responsible for overseeing the company's ongoing operations and development of management and staff. A leader in the local restaurant community, Claude has been a member of several influential organizations including Board of Directors for the Restaurant Association of Maryland (RAM) and the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW).
Director of Food and Beverage
A native New Yorker, and graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology, Bart started in management as the purchasing agent at the Old Ebbitt Grill in the 1980s. Since then he has worked tirelessly, foraging for the best meats, seafood and produce to offer our customers. Most recently, he has helped to write up to date and interesting wine lists and was instrumental in the formation of the CRG Bootleggers Committee.
Chief Financial Officer
Prior to joining Clyde's in 1995, Jeff practiced as a CPA with Arthur Andersen for 10 years. Forging win-win arrangements with our business partners and guiding our management team to improve performance makes him a seasoned asset to the company's organizational growth and stability. A graduate of Penn State University, Jeff is a frequent industry advocate before state legislators serving as Chairman of the Restaurant Association of Maryland and a member of the DC CFO's Economic Advisory Council.
Originally from Bucks County, PA, Christine joined Clyde's as an Old Ebbitt Grill hostess in 1973 while attending Georgetown University. Clyde's took hold, and has featured prominently on her resume ever since. After graduation in 1974, she was invited to the main office to do daily sales audits for Clyde's of Georgetown and the Ebbitt. She has continued with Clyde's, ultimately being promoted to corporate controller. After taking time off to raise her family, she has recently resumed that position.
Corporate Training Manager
In addition to his charming Irish accent, Shane came to Clyde's bearing an impressive educational pedigree including the Birmingham College of Food, Tourism and Creative Studies and the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute where he became a certified hospitality trainer. Born to parents of Irish hoteliers, Shane's intuition on the floor became an immediate asset behind the bar at Clyde's of Georgetown where he started as a server and bartender. Ultimately, his experience would compel his growth to become a valuable part of our training management team.