Martin’s Tavern was established in 1933 by William S. and William G. Martin. Now, Lauren Martin is training to take over as the first female owner.
The lovely young woman who next serves your table at Martin’s Tavern might have a secret. “I don’t tell people I’m Lauren Martin,” says the 23-year-old server who’s training to become its fifth-generation owner—the first female in a line of four Billy Martins before her. But she occasionally fesses up to longtime regulars who wax on about her father and grandfather. “I have big shoes to fill,” says Lauren. She remembers making homemade Play-Doh in the prep room at a very young age, and later helping staff peel carrots and potatoes. After graduating with degrees in entrepreneurship and hospitality from the University of West Virginia, she’s back to stay. “So many people have become family to me, like our regulars and especially the staff I work with, and I don’t want them to go anywhere,” she says. “But I’m still learning.” Since January, she’s worked as a hostess, food runner, busser, expeditor and, now, server. Next stop: bartending. She arrives an hour before each shift to get a handle on the business. She envisions adding more contemporary, health-conscious dishes to the menu of classic comfort food—and changing up the soundtrack to give Sinatra some modern company. In the meantime, she and Dad are scouting locations for a second restaurant. It’s a far cry from when her late grandfather—“Big Daddy”—ran the place and declared that restaurants weren’t for women. Quips Lauren: “I’m curious to know what Big Daddy would say, now that I’m going to take over.” 1264 Wisconsin Ave. NW, 202.333.7370, martinstavern.com
Photography by: Greg Powers