Jean-Baptiste (Paul) DeLisle, 55, managing director of the Jockey Club in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington and former maitre d'hotel of the old Sans Souci restaurant, died Feb. 6 in his home in Arlington after a heart attack.
Mr. DeLisle ran Sans Souci for 16 years before joining the Jockey Club in 1979. During those years, he gained a reputation as a master of not only knowing everyone, but knowing who not to seat next to whom. Located near the White House at 726 17th St. NW, the Sans Souci was known not only for its French dishes, but as a gathering spot of the famous and infamous in government, journalism and law.
In a 1979 article in The Washington Post, one regular of the Sans Souci said Mr. DeLisle played "the room like a chessboard. He knows who should go to the best tables, the central banquettes, and who should go to Siberia, those two tables at the top of the stairs by the bar. And who doesn't get a table at all."
One luncheon regular, Art Buchwald, used to write about Mr. DeLisle in his syndicated column, claiming that he was a leading news source and attributing to him nearly supernatural powers.
Interviewed by The Post in an article on the Sans Souci and Mr. DeLisle, Buchwald said that "Paul was the real reason why we came there. The food was never all that great. But Paul was the dream maitre d'. He was kind to everybody, even when he had to turn them down. It was a club."
Mr. DeLisle was a native of Marsailles, France, and served in the French navy before moving to the Washington area in 1954. Before joining Sans Souci, he worked as a dishwasher at the British embassy, a waiter at the old Place Vendome restaurant and as maitre d'hotel at the Rive Gauche. He also had worked at the Georgetown Inn.
Survivors include his wife, Renee, of Arlington, and two sisters, Georgette Audry and Josette Grimaud, both of France.