Tumble to The Tombs and Join the Tradition
By Meg Charlton
Special to The Hoya
Friday, October 28, 2005
It doesn't matter how many kegs you've kicked or what your Beirut win-loss record may be. A true Hoya knows that no cramped on-campus bash or slick downtown lounge could ever compete with The Tombs.
The restaurant gets its name not from its basement location but rather the T. S. Eliot "Cats" poem "Bustopher Jones," specifically from the line "If he looks full of gloom then he's lunched at the Tomb," which seems an improbable reaction to a meal there.
Even recent arrivals to the Hilltop find themselves quickly indoctrinated into the establishment's rabid following. Katherine Miller (COL '09), for example, received a Tombs gift card for graduation from a friend in Alabama. "I was excited," she recalls. "I knew it would be the first restaurant I'd want to go to."
Miller's experience may seem remarkable to anyone unfamiliar with Georgetown University, but those with even a cursory understanding of the school, including one based solely on St. Elmo's Fire, know The Tombs. The aforementioned film, in fact, takes place mostly in a pub, St. Elmo's, freely acknowledged by filmmakers as a stand-in for that Hoya-beloved hangout - even the waiters' oxford-shirt-and-bowtie uniforms are the same.
The Tombs has played host to at least one other Hollywood production, namely an installment of The Exorcist franchise, which, as General Manager William Watts recalls shut down the restaurant for filming.
Watts serves as the GM for both The Tombs and 1789, and says that the two establishments, both owned by the Clyde's Restaurant Group, share most of the same suppliers, striving to "use the freshest possible ingredients" in as many dishes as they can. This commitment to high culinary standards sets The Tombs apart from most college bars, bringing in a "loyal local following" and "a lot of faculty and staff regulars." This is not to say, however, that The Tombs does not accommodate students. It accepts GOCards and recently got wireless Internet from 3 to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday to go along with its discounted "Study Snacks" menu.
But cheap food, access to the Facebook and another opportunity to spend our parents' money, aren't really what keep Hoyas coming back. Watts says of alums: "Every time they come back to town, the come to The Tombs; these were their fondest memories of Georgetown."
Perhaps I'm a bit biased. In the name of journalistic integrity, I should probably disclose that as I write this article I am seated in The Tombs, chowing down on a turkey sandwich on the house.
But when this underage reporter perched herself in a corner of the restaurant last Friday, the manager cornered a waiter and boomed over the din of a Bon Jovi sing-along, "She drinks, you're fired."
I smiled when I heard that, and not just because it proved what a legendarily law-abiding place I was in, but rather because, after only two months on the Hilltop, it's already clear to me that you've got to earn your first beer at The Tombs.