It’s not everyday that a restaurant turns the big 5-0. 1789 is celebrating their 50th anniversary, making it one of the oldest restaurants in the city.
The restaurant first started when Georgetown alum Richard McCooey purchased the Federal home in the 1960s and opened The Tombs in the basement as a casual spot for university students and faculty. Eventually, McCooey purchased the adjacent properties and the evolution of 1789, The Tombs and F. Scott’s (the former art deco nightclub) began.
“A lot of the credit goes to Richard. He set the place up for all the right reasons,” says Tom Meyer, president of Clyde’s Restaurant Group, adding that McCooey wanted the restaurant to be a welcoming place for Georgetown residents, the university population and out of town guests. “It was designed classically and smartly from the beginning.  is quintessential Washington. It’s a genteel, wonderful environment to dine in.”
But just because 1789 happens to be older than some of its peers, doesn’t mean they’re keeping the status quo. “We’re not of the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality,” says Meyer. He adds that the restaurant has adapted to the public’s changing tastes, while maintaining respect to the original concept. “Nobody gets off a plane or out of a cab and says, ‘What’s the oldest restaurant?’” says Meyer. “Just because you’re one of the oldest [restaurants] doesn’t automatically mean people like you. You almost have to try harder if you’ve been around longer.”
When I asked if Meyer could pinpoint any specific memory or cool moment in the restaurant’s history, he wasn’t able to pick just one. Instead he rattled off a list of former presidents and dignitaries that had dined at 1789–further proof of the restaurant’s staying power.
To celebrate the restaurant’s 50th, 1789 is offering a five-course tasting menu for $50 per person (excluding beverages, tax and gratuity). You can select any three dishes from the soups, salads, cheese and pasta sections of the menu, an entrée and a dessert. The summer special menu is available June 4th through September 13th on Sundays from 5:30 to 10 PM and Monday through Thursday from 6 to 10 PM. Mention the special to your server.