Why is it Named Clyde’s

I guarantee that just about every GoDCer out there has either been to Clyde’s, or one owned by them. The Clyde’s Restaurant Group has a big footprint in D.C. and the surrounding area, with Old Ebbitt Grill, 1789 Restaurant, The Tombs, The Hamilton and a handful of Clyde’s scattered throughout the metropolitan area.

Clyde's of Georgetown

Clyde’s of Georgetown

I’ll also go out on a limb here and say that the bulk of you don’t know the origin of the flagship restaurant’s name (don’t worry, I didn’t either). Bonus points if you did know where it came from.



Stuart Davidson, Harvard grad and investment banker had been observing the changes brought about by the legalization of liquor at bars (prior to 1962, liquor could only be consumed at restaurant tables, not the bar). Davidson had been a frequent patron of the famous P.J. Clarke’s in New York and felt that a similar establishment could work in D.C. With that idea, he opened Clyde’s of Georgetownin 1963.

Stuart always said his concept was based on his belief that “It’s more fun to eat in a saloon than drink in a restaurant.” He decided to name the establishment after the River Clyde, running through Glasgow, Scotland. (If you thought there was some guy named Clyde, you’re probably not the only one).

Quick bit of trivia for you. The 1976 song “Afternoon Delight” by the Starland Vocal Band was named after a menu item at Clyde’s. Two more bits of trivia about the place: it was the first place in D.C. to open for brunch on Sundays and the first place to hire women as waiters.

River Clyde in Glasgow (source: yourlocalweb.co.uk)

River Clyde in Glasgow (source: yourlocalweb.co.uk)

  • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.romanskibaldassarri Kelly Romanski Baldassarri

    Fascinating! I feel richer for having learned these facts.
    Surely this might have been a better illustration of the River Clyde? http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/25/Shipping_on_the_Clyde.jpg

  • Suse

    I saw Emmy Lou Harris play at the M Street location in 1969. Cut my beer drinking teeth at the Tombs; and celebrated our last dinner out with Dad (before he died) at the Tombs. Ate lunch at the Old Ebbitt about once a month (at the bar) when I worked at the National Press Building. Thanks for this post – so many memories…

    • Suse

      woops: dinner with Dad was at 1789.

  • Michael

    Ha, pieces of the “Afternoon Delight”-Clydes connection keep becoming more clear to me. I remember I was getting up to leave Clydes of Georgetown several years ago, and noticed a seemingly out-of-place piece of wall flair: A gold record placque for Afternoon Delight. More recently, a friend of mine informed me that the (main?) guy from Starlight Vocal Band is actually a NW DC resident. The connection of everything is now set…

  • http://gravatar.com/tmmck1975 tmmck1975

    Where is Mike Burke, longtime bartender there

  • hillary

    Didn’t they also use Clydes to film the bar in “St. Elmo’s Fire”

    • http://capitolspark.myrandf.biz Theo

      Parts of St Elmo’s was filmed at The Tombs.

  • undergraduate

    The best times were when live bands played Clydes on the weekends. I was in one of them, and it was energetic to say the least. We were so loud, that the music might have been more enjoyable outside the window on M Street. DC Playboys, Ford & the Motor Company.

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