Jonathan Quigley is a man of many talents. A lawyer by day, a bartender by night and a father to three children 24 hours a day, Quigley has somehow managed to balance the different aspects of his life in a way that is sure to make current college students envious. Since he began working at The Tombs Restaurant and Bar over a decade ago, “John Q” has become a dynamic and familiar face within the Georgetown community.
What first attracted you to a job as a bartender?
Well, like most bartenders, I didn’t start off tending bar. I waited tables — which is way harder. Working at the best college bar at one of the best colleges in the country is a dream job for any bartender. Unique to working at a college bar, though, I’m fortunate to get to know a new senior class each year.
How long have you been working at The Tombs, and what has your experience been like?
I started in 2003 while a senior at Catholic University. My best friend from high school was working at The Tombs while getting his master’s at Georgetown and my college band had played there a couple times. It was a fun place, so getting a job at The Tombs was a no-brainer.
The last 12 years have been the best years of my life, and The Tombs/1789 has been a backdrop for so many of those memories. It’s where I met my wife, where we held our rehearsal dinner, where we celebrated after our children were baptized (My oldest child was baptized during “Snowmageddon.” In 2feet of snow, William Watts, the General Manager at the time, shoveled a path from the front door of 1789 to the chapel steps at Holy Trinity so my friends and family had a place to go for dinner) and so many other special occasions. It’s also where all of my friends from up and down the East coast gathered after one of my best friends from college died tragically. It’s as much of a home to me as any place I’ve lived.
John and Ginger Laytham and Sally Davidson, who own Clyde’s Restaurant Group, have been very kind to my family and me over the years. I’ve had three extraordinary general managers, all of whom I’ve learned from, and countless Tombs managers that have been incredibly supportive of me. With little exception, the Tombs staff is intelligent, witty, engaged and extremely hard-working students, and it’s a privilege to be part of that team.
I’ve had three kids in four years while attending law school at night and bartending on the weekends and it would not have been possible without The Tombs.
What is it like transitioning from the atmosphere and state of mind of being a lawyer to that of being a bartender at The Tombs?
Actually, transitioning from being a lawyer during the day to bartending on the weekends has been pretty easy. I’m lucky now. When I’m at the office, I’m only thinking about law. When I’m at The Tombs, I’m only thinking of taking care of guests, and when I’m home, my head is clear and I can focus on my family. When I was a student, I was taking care of at least one infant or toddler during the day while trying to study and then going to school at night. On the weekends, I was a slave to law review and then had to head to work at The Tombs. Law school is tough. After you survive it, you have a new appreciation for time management.
Could you say a little bit more about your family? How do you balance it all?
My wife Molly and I have three kids, Conor (5), Grace (3) and Finn (1). How to balance it all? Find a great partner. Life is better when you can share it with someone. And when in doubt, put your faith in a working mom. They seem to have magic scheduling powers.
Sure, the weekends are still tough. Bartending is a physical job and I get home at 4 a.m. or later. Kids don’t really have an appreciation for “sleeping in.” They do, however, have an appreciation for baseball, dolls and Legos, all of which I get to enjoy with them before I go to work.
How long do you intend to continue bartending?
I’ll continue to do it as long as I feel I can give my best to both jobs. Molly and I are dedicated to investing in the best education possible for our children. Conor and Grace are currently thriving at Catholic school. Working a second job is helping make that possible. Also, daughters are expensive.
Apparently you’re very good at open mic. Is performing at open mic a usual occurrence?
Sounds like you haven’t checked out Live Music at The Tombs yet. You really should. They have a great guy, Brent, who plays a lot of Sundays. He’s an impressive musician and has great originals. But yes, I do get to play at The Tombs occasionally. I’m a classically trained vocalist and have been playing guitar since I was 12 years old. Although my life is really full now, I don’t truly feel like myself unless I play music every once in a while. Music defined a big part of my life, and although it’s hard to find time for it now, it’s even harder not to.
Can you tell me about the most memorable story you’ve had while bartending?
Hate to sound like a Vegas commercial, but honestly, I think most bar stories should stay at the bar.
Do you have anything else to add?
I think having a place in the neighborhood where you can gather as companions — break bread together — is integral to being a part of a community. The Tombs strengthens friendships and nurtures relationships. I also think that, somewhat unconsciously, The Tombs embodies Jesuit values: they value education, they strive for excellence and they care for the whole person. They cared for and nurtured me, and countless other students and neighbors. It is much more than a restaurant, and much more than a college bar. It has become part of who I am.