After 45 years, Clyde's of Columbia will permanently close on July 19th. Clyde's Restaurant Group will also be closing music venue The Soundry located next door, which opened in 2018. Needless to say, Clyde's is a Columbia institution has has been home to so many of our celebrations, memories, and special occasions. The Lakefront simply will not be the same without these two venues. It's a sad day for all of us.
Clyde's of Columbia and The Soundry are just two of the restaurants that are part of Clyde's Restaurant Group. The group operates 13 restaurants and entertainment venues in total, including the institutional DC restaurant, Old Ebbitt Grill, located across from the White House which is famous for it's oyster Happy Hour; and downtown DC music venue and restaurant the Hamilton that has capacity of over 1000 patrons. These are two of the highest grossing restaurants in America. There are 8 Clyde's Restaurants in the DC metropolitan area. The group also owns the Tombs in Georgetown and 1789 restaurant. None of these other restaurants will be closing.
In August 2019, Arlington, Virginia based Graham Holdings Co. acquired Clyde's Restaurant Group. This transaction occurred months after Clyde's co-owner and chief executive John G. Laytham passed away at the age of 74. Laytham first joined the company as a dishwasher in 1964 and worked his way up as he helped build the Restaurant group into a $135 million-a-year operation. Graham Holdings is a diversified American conglomeration whose holdings include the digital marketing company SocialCode, the online magazine Slate, Graham Media Group (formerly Post-Newsweek Stations), a group of seven television stations, and higher education company Kaplan. Graham Holdings formerly owned the Washington Post newspaper before selling it to Jeff Bezos in 2013 for $250 million.
Here's my take:
With such a significant backing behind it, clearly, the ownership group certainly had the financial resources in place to weather the drop in sales caused by the current pandemic. I find it interesting that only our Clyde's location will be closing. Clyde's of Columbia has one of the larger areas available for outdoor dining in downtown Columbia and has been notably busy over the past several weeks as restaurants have been reopening outdoor dining areas. To me, the decision to close our Clyde's location points to bigger issues with our location than just the pandemic. In the press release announcing the closure today, John McDonnell, chief operating officer of Clyde's Restaurant Group, said that "It breaks our heart to be closing, but after several years of struggling sales, the pandemic, and the challenges music venues are now facing as a result, 2020 has dealt us a blow we simply cannot overcome."
The Columbia Lakefront has seen much turnover over recent years. While Clyde's has been a fixture for 45 years, other nearby restaurants have not had nearly as much longevity. The Soundry replaced the Tomato Palace in 2018, which was also operated by Clyde's Restaurant Group. Kitty corner to the Clydes/Soundry building is 10315 Wincopin Circle, which is the home to Sushi Sonos and the former home of Lupa roman trattoria. Lupa's closed in March 2019 after only one year in operation having replaced Petit Louis Bistro. Sushi Sonos will be the only restaurant remaining.
Redeveloping Columbia's Lakefront is a major part of the planned 30 year master plan for transforming downtown Columbia. Howard Hughes Corp plan for the Lakefront include a new "wellness district", towering glass office buildings, new retail and residential, and urban pathways and parks. We can only hope that these projects move forward as planned.
Official press release:
Clyde's Restaurant Group announced it will close its Columbia locations in July.
"Clyde's has had a tremendous 45-year run and we are so grateful for the terrific support of the wonderful Columbia community," John McDonnell, chief operating officer of Clyde's Restaurant Group, said in a statement. "It breaks our heart to be closing, but after several years of struggling sales, the pandemic, and the challenges music venues are now facing as a result, 2020 has dealt us a blow we simply cannot overcome."
The first Maryland property opened by the popular Washington-based restaurant group, Clyde's of Columbia has been serving Howard County since 1975. The Soundry, located adjacent to Clyde's on Lake Kittamaqundi, opened in 2018 as an intimate music venue and event space.
Both will close July 19.
McDonnell said the company hopes to retain the Columbia staff at other Clyde's locations, which include 11 restaurants throughout Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
"The priority right now is taking care of our people," McDonnell said. "Our other locations will benefit greatly from the talented and dedicated team from Columbia."