The four corners of Wisconsin and M Street Northwest in Washington, DC have gone through a lot of changes in the last twenty years. But Nathans Restaurant of Georgetown has been the same for 40 years.
Twenty years ago, I was a waitress there on weekends with my roommate Mary. Just for brunches, because to be a waiter at dinner at Nathans, Mr. Joynt required waiters to have real experience, and I was just a college girl, and this was my first restaurant job. Nevertheless, during my brunch service, I got to wait on Walter Cronkite and Donna Shalala. Nathans was the place.
Not only that, I learned about wine waiting tables at Nathans. They had over 100 pages in their wine list at the time, and when I started working there, I only knew red or white. When I finally got a ‘real’ job, I knew the difference between Cabernet and Merlot, and I could open a bottle of wine with a wine key. I also learned how to make a really good Bloody Mary.
So besides just appreciating the familiarity of Nathans in Georgetown, I’ve had a special place in my heart for the bar/restaurant. I was understandably disturbed to hear earlier this year that Carol Joynt, who inherited management when her husband passed away, was having difficulty keeping the place running. I’m even sadder to hear that she’s finally announced she’s closing it July 12.
But running one’s own business is a choice one makes very carefully, and Mr. J made that choice for himself. Carol didn’t choose to run a restaurant, she was thrown into it. From what I’ve read on her blog, she’s done her very best to keep Nathans afloat.
I’m very glad I managed to schedule my most recent birthday brunch at Nathans, for old time’s sake, and we had a great time. So sorry we won’t be able to do it again. Nathans will be missed!