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Friends mourn Tommy Boggs at his old table at the Palm

The staff of The Palm, a hangout of the late Tommy Boggs, is mourning their well-known patron. (Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post)
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Most memorials don’t serve fine rib eyes, but then again, most mourners aren’t paying tribute to a guy who had a regular table at the Palm.

Friends of Tommy Boggs, the uber-connected Washington operator who died on Monday at age 73, have been dropping by his old haunt, the venerable steakhouse where deals are done and martinis sipped, to pay their respects. Table 30, Boggs’s usual spot, is draped in a black tablecloth during lunch service this week.

“He was bigger than life, so everyone’s got a story,” said Tommy Jacomo, who’s officially the restaurant’s executive director but is known as the Palm’s ambassador and greeter. One of his own favorite moments came in 1999 when his powerful customer was being profiled for a “60 Minutes” feature called “The Lobbyist.” The news crew interviewed Jacomo. “It was the biggest thrill of my life, being on ’60 Minutes’ without getting indicted,” he recalled.

Boggs, who came from a storied political family — both his parents served in Congress — and founded the law firm Patton Boggs, was among the first investors in the Palm, which opened in 1972. But even after the owners bought out the investors a few years later, Boggs kept coming. He also co-owned the Caucus Room, another downtown power-dining spot.

At the Palm, Boggs knew everyone’s name, from famous patrons to the waiters, Jacomo said. He once invited a waiter he knew was an avid hunter to join one of his legendary hunting excursions at his lodge on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the site of gatherings that often included Cabinet secretaries, committee chairmen, and business leaders. “He was generous like that,” Jacomo said.

This week, many a glass is being raised in his honor, often in the direction of the spot on the Palm’s wall where Boggs’s caricature grins down. Some even with the signature drink the Palm staff knew to bring him without his uttering a word: Bombay on the rocks with an onion.