An ever-popular rathskeller located near the entrance to Georgetown University, The Tombs
has been a Georgetown institution since 1962. 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 F. Scott's, an art deco restaurant now reserved for private parties.
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. Mr. 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 half pound burgers, chili and chicken #1, the menu appeals to students and to its neighbors. Sandwiches such as The Bulldog with hot
pastrami, coleslaw, Russian dressing, and Muenster cheese on grilled pumpernickel bread is a solid sandwich bet. In the winter, guests can warm up with The Tombs gumbo,
which blends chicken, andouille sausage, shrimp and ham with peppers, onions, celery, tomatoes, okra and garlic. 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 Pastry Chef Justine Sullivan and utilizes the 1789's award-winning wine list.