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La Chaumière Announces It Will Remain in Georgetown Another 10 Years

Co-owner Martin Lumet talks about the future of the restaurant, but acknowledges patrons’ resistance to change.

Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

In a situation that’s more lease revival than lease renewal, Georgetown’s venerable La Chaumière restaurant announced it will serve its loyal patrons their beloved cassoulet, quenelles, and calf’s liver for another ten years. The co-owner of the French restaurant, Martin Lumet, said he’s not kidding about the cassoulet. “If one day I am out of cassoulet, I get phone calls, e-mails,” he says. “They want to know, ‘How could you be out of cassoulet?’”

La Chaumière was opened in 1976 by Gerard Pain, who sold it to Lumet and chef Patrick Orange in 2006. They renewed the lease in 2011, but then had to deal with tax issues that arose between the building’s owner and the city. The restaurant’s fate was in doubt. Now, Lumet says, the landlord has resolved the issues with the DC Office of Tax and Revenue, and it’s all clear for the next decade.

In the list of Georgetown restaurants, La Chaumière is the quiet power spot, the hangout of the cave dwellers and old guard. It’s one of the last of the white-tablecloth bistros, where provenance is more important than flash. On any given night, sitting at one of the choice tables near the fireplace might be Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, lawyers Brendan Sullivan, Bob Bennett, or Tommy Boggs, architect Hugh Jacobsen, or Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn. One famous night, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones walked in and settled in a banquette in the back.

Now that Lumet is assured of his lease for another ten years, we wondered whether he plans any changes. Lumet is adamant: No. He says his customers know what they like. “It’s true. My clientele doesn’t like change. I’ve received very severe warnings from them. I guess we won’t be serving sushi anytime soon.”

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  • Zarin

    Similar unpleasant experience with the hostess/ waitress... Try Bistrot Lepic instead on Wisconsin ...

  • Milana

    This restaurant has terrible service. The manager does not care about his customers. There are much better French restaurants in town... Avoid this place!!the hostess is the old unpleasant woman. The old French lady waitress is acts like she is the Goddess there.... Overall do not spend your $$ there... I will never bring my customers to that restaurant again!!! Very unpleasant last experience... after going there for more then 4 years!!

  • Lisette

    "The old French lady waitress" IS a goddess. She knows whereof she speaks regarding wine, food, politics. She is very smart, very funny, and agile around a large table with everyone talking at once.

    A chacun son gout, Milana, but your assessment seems way off base.

  • notation

    What a great restaurant! We love it.

  • Kristina

    Great news indeed, we adore La Chaumiere (service, food and ambience).

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