Perhaps temporarily, perhaps permanently.

“We hope this will be only temporary,” says host Circ Salcedo.

Owner Hossein Shirvani is apparently locked in lease negotiations with the landlord. The issue is supposed to be resolved soon. If The Guards wins the battle of wills with the landlord, it will likely close for renovations before reopening, Salcedo says.

The Guards has been in operation on M Street since 1996, according to the restaurant’s Web site. The first review that I could find in The Post’s archives dates to March 1969. Critic Donald Dresden wrote:

“The Guards ranks as one of the most physically attractive new restaurants Georgetown has recently seen. The manager says it should be regarded as a place with the kitchen of the Jockey Club in Washington, and the bar of ‘21’ in New York.”

The Guards was also a favorite for longtime Post food editor and critic Phyllis C. Richman. In her 1988 survey of Washington’s romantic restaurants, she wrote:

“Dark wood, walls and floor lend a hush that today’s hard-edge restaurants seldom achieve. And the tables are of proportions to support 20-ounce prime ribs and inches-thick steaks. The menu offers fish, salads and other obeisances to modern taste, but the he-man food is what the kitchen does best.”

It’s too soon to know the romance is finally over between Washington and The Guards. Let’s hope not. According to this informal listing of the area’s historic restaurants, The Guards ranks among the top 60 oldest eateries.

It’d be a shame to lose yet another slice of D.C. dining history.