When Your Dining Critic Says a Restaurant’s Corned Beef Hash Tastes Like Dog Food

Graham Holdings, the family company that owned the Washington Post for 80 years before selling it to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos in 2013, has bought the Clyde’s Restaurant Group, a chain of popular Washington restaurants that has its own interesting history. It was started some 50 years ago by Stuart Davidson—his first restaurant was Clyde’s in Georgetown, a trendy, slightly upscale restaurant that was very popular with the hipper newcomers to the nation’s capital. From the original Clyde’s, Davidson expanded to more than 10 restaurants, including the Old Ebbitt Grill, a restaurant near the White House that’s popular with tourists—it’s the highest grossing restaurant in the nation’s capital.

A Stuart Davidson story: In the early days of the Washingtonian, our dining critic was Robert Shoffner, wh0 tended, maybe too often, to either love or hate a restaurant. In his review of Clyde’s he compared the corned beef hash there to Alpo dog food. We then featured that line as a pull quote on the page.

Several days after the issue was published, I got a call from Harry Sohigian, whose firm handled advertising and PR for Clyde’s. He said Stuart Davidson would like to have lunch to discuss the review.

A few days later I went to the Clyde’s in Georgetown and the three of us sat down. Stuart said hello and then sat and glared for 90 minutes while Harry and I talked about the review and then mostly about the Georgetown scene and how Washington was changing.

After that lunch, I never heard from Stuart again and for many years none of the Clyde’s restaurants would advertise in the Washingtonian. But as Washington grew bigger and richer, the magazine and the Clyde’s group did well.


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