By Kerry Howley Hoya Staff Writer

If you’ve already got 10 restaurants in the Washington area, each with a steady and cosmopolitan clientele, where can you go to expand? Straight onto the Potomac, apparently.

Clyde’s Restaurant Group, the successful corporation that owns 1789 Restaurant, J. Paul’s and The Tombs, along with its flagship restaurant on M Street, is looking to build a floating restaurant on the stretch of river between 33rd Street and the Key Bridge. The proposed restaurant, which has been in the works for nearly 15 years, may finally be close to construction. But as with any Georgetown project, controversy abounds.

According to Tom Meyer, vice president of restaurant development for Clyde’s, the corporation’s newest restaurant will be comprised of three connected boathouses, each sitting atop a docked barge next to the riverbank. The upscale restaurant will seat about 250 people and include both a bar and lounge area. It will take about 18 months to build once construction begins.

“We’d like to see it up and running as soon as possible,” Meyer explained.

It has been a long voyage for “The Boat Club,” the project’s working title. According to Meyer, the idea began as a 500-seat restaurant around 1986, and would originally have been located on the stretch of land between 33rd Street and the Key Bridge. However, the land, which Clyde’s has had a lease on since 1987, was transferred from the District to the National Park Service.

“We agreed that it would be better to leave the land to the Park Service,” Meyer said, “and started thinking about building on water.”

Clyde’s is currently waiting for approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. According to Mary Beth Thompson, spokeswoman for the Corps, it’s too early to say whether Clyde’s can count on approval or not.

“We’ve given the community a chance to respond to the proposal,” Thompson said. “Some environmental and boating groups have expressed concern.” The Army Corps is currently investigating community feedback.

Clyde’s remains confident that it has the support of the community.

“Everyone’s got concerns, and we’ve been listening to those,” eyer said. “We have the support of the Georgetown Waterfront Commission and the Advisory Neighborhood Committee. We’ve been negotiating this since the ’80s.”

The delay, Thompson said, has been due more to Clyde’s constantly changing plans than the Corps’ unwillingness to approve the project. “As far as I can tell, they’ve applied for approvals and changed them several times,” she said. Each time a proposal is changed, it must be resubmitted.

Some have expressed concern for local uses of the Potomac. According to Tony Johnson, Georgetown’s men’s crew head coach, the restaurant would have little impact on Georgetown sports. “It’s one more thing on the river,” Johnson said, “but in terms of direct effect, it’s nothing much.”

Clyde’s has been part of the Georgetown landscape since 1963, when the corporation built its first restaurant on M Street. Since then, the group has opened four more Clyde’s Restaurant, a grill in downtown Washington and an Italian restaurant in Maryland. The group acquired 1789 and The Tombs in 1985.

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