The Tombs is set to reopen in mid-October following its year-and-a-half closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic and staffing shortages.
The Tombs, a popular restaurant and bar located one block from Georgetown University’s main campus, shut down in March 2020 at the same time the university sent students home as COVID-19 began to spread throughout the United States. Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) allowed restaurants to reopen with capacity restrictions for indoor dining Jan. 22, but The Tombs remained closed.
Students make up the majority of customers and employees at The Tombs, and without students on campus, staying open for business was not feasible, according to David Moran, managing director of Clyde’s Restaurant Group, The Tombs’ parent company.
“In addition to the students being the main source of our customer base they also are the backbone of our employee workforce and we simply did not have enough people to operate the restaurant,” Moran wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Our goal was to have The Tombs reopened when the students arrived a few weeks ago but again the lack of staffing prevented that from happening.”
Now that the university has returned to full operation and all students are back on campus again, many students are looking forward to reuniting with their friends at The Tombs, according to Matthew Coyne (MSB ’22), who plans to frequent The Tombs.
“I think there’s a lot of pent-up demand for people wanting to get back in there and see all their friends,” Coyne said in a phone interview with The Hoya. “It’s a very Georgetown-centric spot, and the Georgetown community is not whole without The Tombs being back yet.”
When The Tombs reopens in mid-October, customers will need to follow Washington, D.C. and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for COVID-19, meaning masks will be required indoors except while eating or drinking, according to Moran.
News of The Tombs reopening was met with excitement by former and current students, with many looking forward to partaking in popular student traditions, according to Coyne.
For Zach Magid (COL ’21), a former employee at The Tombs, traditions like “Tombs Nights,” when students go to the bar on their 21st birthday and receive a stamp on their head, are a hallmark of the Tombs experience.
“You get to gather your friends and then make the walk to The Tombs where you get your forehead stamped,” Magid said in a phone interview with The Hoya. “For me personally, as a doorman at The Tombs for three years, I’ve given so many stamps and seen the pride and revelry it induced.”
Many seniors who already turned 21 are planning on holding alternate Tombs nights for their 22nd birthdays to emulate the tradition, according to Coyne.
Traditions like Tombs Nights help instill a sense of community among Georgetown students, according to Alejandro Kineen (SFS ’20), a former waiter and waitstaff trainer at The Tombs. Kineen plans to return as a customer once the restaurant reopens.
“Everyone you know is always going to be there. It’s just a nice end spot, either for dinner on a Tuesday night or a last hurrah on a Saturday,” Kineen said in a phone interview with The Hoya. “That made it a nice vibe because you had friends waiting on you as well.”
As part of the reopening, The Tombs has worked to update the customer experience, including changing the menu to add new offerings. The Tombs hopes to keep many other student traditions, including the 100 Day Challenge, where students can sign their name on the wall of the bar after going to the restaurant for 100 days straight, once the restaurant reopens, according to Moran.
Knowing many of these traditions are going to return, some graduates plan to go back to The Tombs to reminisce about memories from their time at Georgetown, according to Kineen.
“I think we all plan to go back,” Kineen said. “The first few weekends, there will probably be a lot of washed-up one- and two-year seniors revisiting like old times.”
As excitement builds for The Tombs’ reopening, the top priority for the restaurant remains to open in a safe yet efficient manner, according to Moran.
“We simply want to get the doors open as soon as possible so the students, faculty and neighbors of Georgetown can once again have The Tombs be part of their college experience,” Moran wrote.