History of Nathans Restaurant


          Nathans has been the epicenter of Georgetown’s legendary and lively bar and restaurant scene for more than three decades. It was opened in 1969 by founding partners Howard Joynt, Charlie Mathieson, and a colorful Georgetown character and racetrack aficionado who called himself "Nathan Detroit." Washington was in the throes of a charged time; several blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue Richard Nixon was into his first term as President, and the Vietnam War was escalating. The war protest movement had a hold on the city. The reigning fashions were bell-bottoms and love beads. Nathans neighbors along M Street included a Woolworth's, the Cellar Door, the swanky Rive Gauche restaurant, Clyde's, The Guards and a discotheque or two.

         Within a few months of opening, Nathan and Charlie sold their shares to Howard, who began his almost three decades as the sole proprietor of Nathans.

          Howard put his mark on the place. He wanted to give Georgetown a taste of his favorite New York bars - P.J. Clarke's and the 21 Club - -with their racy and frankly masculine energy. He designed and built a back bar that displayed every brand of liquor he and his friends could think of. "When someone walks in that door they want to know we'll have what they want to drink," he said. "Besides, anything worth doing is worth overdoing."While the bar displayed macho, the dining room was designed with a clubby décor to be as welcoming to a group of business people unwinding after a day's work, as it is romantic for lovers on a date. Critics swooned for the place. A "record girl" played LP's on a turntable in the back room each night after dinner. As they do today, a mix of socialites, sports stars, political operatives, media heavies and regular folks came from everywhere to mingle with authentic Georgetowners, sip champagne, scotch or cognac and unwind into the wee hours.
          Howard put his personal stamp on Nathans in other ways, too. An avid sailor and art collector, he decorated the bar with half-hulls of famous racing yachts and burgees from his favorite yacht clubs. The sailing prints and other memorabilia, as well as the horse paintings and prints in the dining room, are from his personal collection.
The menu today features steaks and chops from Chicago and outstanding Chesapeake Bay seafood, as well as Nathans classics, like Lobster Fettuccini. Our house made potato chips are a must. The wine list is a perfect match for the food and nightlife. On weekends, the dining room is transformed into an after-dinner disco, where patrons dance to the latest hits and their favorite oldies.

          Nathans, now in its 35th year, and open every day of the year, proudly celebrates the tradition of a great neighborhood bar.

         My son and I are happy to have you here. Please come back soon.

Carol Ross Joynt
Spencer Howard Joynt

 
 
 
 
 
Howard Joynt