John Gibb Laytham
November 12, 1944 – January 3, 2019
John G. Laytham of McLean, VA, died on Thursday, January 3, 2019, at Washington Hospital Center after bravely fighting a heart condition for many years. He was 74.
Son of William and Doris Laytham (née Mimm), John was born on November 12, 1944, in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, and attended Carteret Prep School in West Orange. In 1963, John moved to Washington, DC to attend Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. It was just three months after Stuart C. Davidson opened the now famous saloon, Clyde’s of Georgetown. Upon arriving in Washington, John took a part-time job at Clyde’s and quickly moved from determined dishwasher to partner within five years. Stuart and John had innate chemistry. With mutual respect, a shared business sense, and complementary personalities, the partners walked in lockstep for decades. Over the ensuing forty years, John acted as Executive Vice President, President and most recently, CEO of the nationally recognized local restaurant company consisting of thirteen locations in DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland. The company’s meticulous and deliberate expansion was largely the result of John’s vision, and its success over the years is a testament to John’s business acuity, management prowess, and artistic creativity—traits seldom found in one restaurant impresario.
Recipient of many business, industry, and lifetime achievement awards, including the 2010 Washington Business Hall of Fame Laureate award, John believed companies were obliged to give back to the community that supports them, preferably by investing in the future. “Business,” he said, “is uniquely qualified to supply support systems for the next generation, for those young people who stand at the gap between ambition and achievement.”
With his wife Virginia Idol Laytham (Ginger) by his side for 42 years, John worked to support the community through the efforts of Clyde’s School/Work Program, a school-to-work partnership with DC public schools where Clyde’s provided inner-city kids with academic mentoring, job training, part-time employment, and wholesome recreational activities outside the city limits. As co-founder and former vice president of the Georgetown Business Association, John was able to encourage other local businesses to give back to the community.
John met the love of his life, Ginger at Clyde’s in 1976 and throughout their marriage, Ginger has played an instrumental role in the company and throughout the communities Clyde’s proudly serves.
His many passions and talents echo throughout Clyde’s Restaurant Group. You cannot visit a Clyde’s location without appreciating his eye for art and composition. John carefully collected and commissioned artwork, and proudly displayed it throughout his restaurants. A talented cook, John loved food and had an appreciation for the farmers and watermen that supplied it. Clyde’s was a pioneer in the “farm-to-table movement” before the term existed, creating a local farm program in the early ’80s out of John’s passion for sourcing the best ingredients. An avid gardener himself, John found great joy and tranquility in his perennial garden.
Laytham had an amazing capacity for detail. And while the name Clyde’s will always evoke visions of his beautiful restaurants, Laytham’s role at Clyde’s cannot be discussed without mentioning his dedication to people. A man of uncompromising principles, he attracted similarly minded individuals whose creativity and work ethic helped drive success. Like art, John had a gift for eyeing talent. He believed you should “hire the person, teach the position” and he ensured employees remained the core of the business. He once said,
I let them take risks, and I let them make mistakes. Giving people the opportunity and freedom to try new things, to come up with new procedures they feel would work better, giving people that freedom makes them more creative, makes them work harder, makes them more interested in their job. It’s why we have an awful lot of people who’ve worked in the company for decades.
When he needed a break from the bustle of Washington, Laytham would retreat to his treasured home in Nantucket where he was most at peace digging clams or out on his boat with his family. He was eternally grateful to his first wife, Janet Laytham, for the two incredibly bright and kind children they shared.
John is survived by his wife Ginger Laytham, son Gibb (Eliana Facioni) of Chevy Chase, MD, son-in-law Steve Vice of Annapolis, MD, his grandchildren Julia, Olivia, and Lucas, as well as his siblings Daniel (Jan), Edward (Nenya), Sarah Tapsell (Frank), and Deborah Laytham; and was preceded in death by his parents and beloved daughter, Hilary Laytham Vice.
A memorial service will be held at St. John's Episcopal Church Georgetown, in Washington, DC at 11 AM on January 19, 2019.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to MedStar Heart and Vascular Institute (MHVI), Section of Cardiac Electrophysiology.
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
St. John's Episcopal Church
3240 O St NW
John Gibb Laytham
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January 14, 2019
John, your beautiful soul always entered the room before you. Humble, giving without measure, clever and genius your big heart beats on in ours. Thank you for giving my beautiful sister Ginger, the greatest gift of all, 42 years of your love in marriage. So magnificent! So you! I will miss you John. Chrissy
Howard Kaye, Jr. (Boston)
January 9, 2019
My fond memories of John extend back to the mid 60s and the original Clyde’s Georgetown when John and Stuart were just beginning as uniquely visionary, efficacious business partners. The place was a regular venue in my life then and remains personally symbolic of those coming of age years and indelible period in our country’s history. It embodied a presence of relaxed ambience, friendly association, and graciousness amid a physical setting that evoked a just right, subliminal sense of our so deeply valued American heritage. The spirit and soul of the place reflected the special and endearing soul of John himself. His passing causes me much sadness. May John know protection and growth of soul from strength to strength in the realm of spirit. Blessings and comfort to his dear family members during these days.
January 9, 2019
I feel honored to have known John. He will always be remembered as a pillar of the Georgetown community. John was always a gentleman who built a fantastic company and was generous with the community. John will be missed.
January 8, 2019
We are all who we are in are in no small measure because John himself so dramatically influenced how our business worked. And that in itself is the highest praise that anyone gets when all is said and done...that thousands of us have lived vastly different lives; have worked in spaces that were forever impacted by the standards he was constantly pushing. You were a brilliant leader for all of us to learn from. Many thanks, John. Peace.
January 7, 2019
My heartfelt condolences to the Laytham family!!! John and I had many spirited conversations over the years at Hunters Inn of Potomac. He was a man of great dignity and humility!! He forever changed the DC metro dining scene and he will be missed greatly!!
Cheers to you John and May You Rest!!!
January 6, 2019
I was saddened by the news of John's passing. I knew John as a boss at Clyde's of Columbia...He was always smiling and spread good cheer to all. Then when I lived on Nantucket, John and Ginger were frequent customers at a small Italian restaurant where I worked. They were unfailingly gracious as customers, always remembered my days with Clyde's in Maryland. A lovely man whose absence will be sorely missed. He was an integral part of the landscapes of D.C. and Nantucket. A toast to you ,John!! My heartfelt sympathy to all who held him dear.
Fredi and George Stevens
January 6, 2019
We were so sorry to hear of John’s passing. He was truly a giant of a man always displaying his warm, kind and gentle soul. Ginger, Gibb and the rest of your family we send our deepest sympathies. May your love for John get you through the sadness your are feeling now and may the wonderful memories of John sustain you in the future. Praying you are feeling the peace of God knowing John is reunited with Hillary.
Shy Nair and Alex Lansky Nair
January 6, 2019
Like many people that knew John we are very sad to hear of his passing. He was a brilliant businessman with a gigantic heart. We will always be grateful for the opportunity he gave both of us when he hired us.
Our best wishes to Ginger and his family in this difficult time. John was truly a very good man.
January 5, 2019
I knew and worked for John and Ginger at Clyde’s in Georgetown in the 1980’s. There were not many nicer people to have as part of my life. I will always remember seeing them on their visits to "my" island Nantucket and one hilarious evening laughing and reminiscing in ‘Sconset.... He was a good, kind soul who never made you feel like you were "working for" him. My warm thoughts and hugs to Ginger and their family for he will be sorely missed.