"Once upon a time,

in the village of Washington, in the state of Virginia,
stood a plain two story building advertising Standard Gas and Atlas Tires. It was a garage, just a small country garage.

But one day, people would come from around the world to visit it.”

– Phyllis Richman

American writer and former food critic for the Washington Post

Patrick O'Connell and Reinhardt Lynch in the 70's.

1970's

In 1974, Patrick O’Connell and Reinhardt Lynch started a catering business in Rappahannock County, bringing 70’s style French cooking to a remote region of Northern Virginia. Their lunches were particularly a big hit at the Warrenton Antique Show and sold for $3.75. Their last catering job was in 1977 for Elizabeth Taylor and John Warner.

On January 28, 1978, The Inn at Little Washington opened its doors for the very first time. The setting was an old country garage, modestly transformed into a quaint restaurant with a staff of 3.  Outside, the worst blizzard in a decade raged on, but inside, an entirely new storm was brewing. Within two weeks of opening, rave reviews started pouring in. Just a few months later, John Rosson of The Washington Star wrote a review that would serve as a turning point in the history of the soon to be culinary landmark.

At the end of their first year, Patrick and Reinhardt closed the Inn for a month to embark on a gastronomic pilgrimage of the greatest restaurants in France. They returned full of inspiration and emboldened with fresh knowledge, passion, and dreams.

1970's

In 1974, Patrick O’Connell and Reinhardt Lynch started a catering business in Rappahannock County, bringing 70’s style French cooking to a remote region of Northern Virginia. Their lunches were particularly a big hit at the Warrenton Antique Show and sold for $3.75. Their last catering job was in 1977 for Elizabeth Taylor and John Warner.

On January 28, 1978, The Inn at Little Washington opened its doors for the very first time. The setting was an old country garage, modestly transformed into a quaint restaurant with a staff of 3.  Outside, the worst blizzard in a decade raged on, but inside, an entirely new storm was brewing. Within two weeks of opening, rave reviews started pouring in. Just a few months later, John Rosson of The Washington Star wrote a review that would serve as a turning point in the history of the soon to be culinary landmark.

At the end of their first year, Patrick and Reinhardt closed the Inn for a month to embark on a gastronomic pilgrimage of the greatest restaurants in France. They returned full of inspiration and emboldened with fresh knowledge, passion, and dreams.

Patrick O'Connell and Reinhardt Lynch in the 70's.
Esquire magazine in the 80's.

1980's

London based interior designer Joyce Conwy Evans (later to be dubbed The Inn’s “fairy godmother”) entered the picture as Patrick and Reinhardt set out to dramatically reimagine their current space. Together, Patrick and Joyce coined the term “fantality” which is the idyllic blend between fantasy and reality. This dreamlike state of being became the filter through which all design decisions were made and the Inn began a magic transformation from a quaint country stop into a visual wonderland. The first rooms opened in 1985 followed by two bi-level suits the year after.  

In 1981, Esquire named The Inn as “One of the 100 Best New Restaurants in America.” Chef O’Connell was named to “Who’s Who of Food?” in 1984 and The Inn joined Relais & Chateaux as one of only 10 US properties in 1987. In 1988, The Inn received it’s first AAA Five Diamond award for the restaurant and the Mobile (now Forbes) 5 Star Award for accommodations the year after.

Patrick O'Connell on the cover of a magazine in the 90's.

1990's

In 1990, The Inn at Little Washington became the first property to ever receive AAA’s Five Diamond award for both the accommodations and the restaurant. The Inn makes history again the year after by becoming the first property to ever receive the Mobil (now Forbes) Travel Guide’s 5 Star Award for both the accommodations and restaurant as well. In 1991, the Inn expanded and created the first guest rooms housed outside of the main building. The Inn received four awards from the James Beard Foundation in the 90’s: Best Restaurant and Best Chef Mid Atlantic Region in 1993, Best Service in 1997, and Best Wine Service in 1998.  

In 1996, Patrick’s first cookbook was published and landed on the Best Seller’s list. Andrea Mitchell and Alan Greenspan were married at The Inn with a dazzling guest list of politicans and celebrities in 1997. The Inn underwent another massive renovation in 1998 and added a new wing housing 2 new suites, a living room, a lounge and a new kitchen that was later dubbed “the most beautiful kitchen in the world.”

1990's

In 1990, The Inn at Little Washington became the first property to ever receive AAA’s Five Diamond award for both the accommodations and the restaurant. The Inn makes history again the year after by becoming the first property to ever receive the Mobil (now Forbes) Travel Guide’s 5 Star Award for both the accommodations and restaurant as well. In 1991, the Inn expanded and created the first guest rooms housed outside of the main building. The Inn received four awards from the James Beard Foundation in the 90’s: Best Restaurant and Best Chef Mid Atlantic Region in 1993, Best Service in 1997, and Best Wine Service in 1998.  

In 1996, Patrick’s first cookbook was published and landed on the Best Seller’s list. Andrea Mitchell and Alan Greenspan were married at The Inn with a dazzling guest list of politicans and celebrities in 1997. The Inn underwent another massive renovation in 1998 and added a new wing housing 2 new suites, a living room, a lounge and a new kitchen that was later dubbed “the most beautiful kitchen in the world.”

Patrick O'Connell on the cover of a magazine in the 90's.
Chef Patrick O'Connell hugging a dalmation.

2000's

The Living Room and the Monkey Lounge are completed in January of 2000. In 2001, Patrick was honored with the James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Chef of the Year and received an honorary doctorate from Johnson & Wales University. The Inn ranked #1 in the World for Travel + Leisure Readers Choice Best Food Awards in 2001.The same year, Robert Mondavi awarded Patrick with Culinary Excellence and named him “The Pope of American Cuisine.” In 2002, Virginia Governor Mark Warner invited Patrick to a reception at the Governor’s Mansion to honor him as a “Virginia Treasure.”

In January of 2007, Patrick bought out Reinhardt’s interest in The Inn and became the sole proprietor.  In May of that year, Patrick was invited to Richmond by Governor Tim Kaine to prepare a party for Queen Elizabeth’s visit.

3 Michelin Star announcement in the kitchen.

2010's

Patrick became President of Relais & Chateaux North America in 2010. In 2011, The Inn officially became the longest tenured AAA 5 Diamond restaurant in history – a title that holds true today. Michelin published their first ever guide to Washington DC and awarded The Inn at Little Washington with 2 stars in 2016. Two years later, The Inn received the coveted third Michelin star, making it one of only 14 in the United States and the only one on the East Coast outside of New York City.

The Inn at Little Washington celebrated it’s 40th anniversary in 2018 with parties at home, at Mount Vernon, and in France. Culinary icons from across the globe came together to celebrate the continuing story of Patrick O’Connell and the Inn at Little Washington. In 2019, The Inn made history again as the longest tenured 5 Star Restaurant in the world on the Forbes Travel Guide.  In November of the same year, Patrick accepted the National Humanities Medal from the President of the United States for his profound impact on shaping the culinary landscape across the nation. Chef O’Connell was also awarded the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, an honor given to someone whose life’s work “has had a long lasting impact on the way we eat, cook, and think about food in America.”

2010's

Patrick became President of Relais & Chateaux North America in 2010. In 2011, The Inn officially became the longest tenured AAA 5 Diamond restaurant in history – a title that holds true today. Michelin published their first ever guide to Washington DC and awarded The Inn at Little Washington with 2 stars in 2016. Two years later, The Inn received the coveted third Michelin star, making it one of only 14 in the United States and the only one on the East Coast outside of New York City.

The Inn at Little Washington celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2018 with parties at home, at Mount Vernon, and in France. Culinary icons from across the globe came together to celebrate the continuing story of Patrick O’Connell and the Inn at Little Washington. In 2019, The Inn made history again as the longest tenured 5 Star Restaurant in the world on the Forbes Travel Guide. In November of the same year, Patrick accepted the National Humanities Medal from the President of the United States for being "one of the greatest chefs of our time who has raised the culinary arts to new heights of excellence by embracing regional flavors and championing local farmers." Chef O’Connell was also awarded the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, an honor given to someone whose life’s work “has had a long lasting impact on the way we eat, cook, and think about food in America.”

3 Michelin Star announcement in the kitchen.
Chef Patrick O'Connell headsot.

Present

In March of 2020, PBS aired “The Inn at Little Washington: A Delicious Documentary.” Chef O’Connell has announced the opening of his second restaurant and plans to bring a general store to Washington, VA. The Inn made headlines in 2020 by deploying a creative way to accommodate social distance guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic and by introducing an online store to satisfy cravings for The Inn on demand. Chef O’Connell was honored with a second honorary doctorate from The College of William & Mary in January of 2021. In April of 2021, The Inn at Little Washington was awarded a Michelin Green Star for Chef O'Connell's deep and continued commitment to sustainability.

The Inn at Little Washington is a never ending story and represents the life’s work of Chef Patrick O’Connell. The Inn has been awarded nearly every possible award for its food, accommodations and wine list. The Inn continues to maintain its status as the longest tenured AAA Five Diamond and Forbes 5 Star restaurant in the world and has been awarded 3 Michelin stars again for the 2021 Michelin Guide.