WASHINGTON (AP) _ Duke Zeibert, whose Washington restaurant was a favorite for nearly a half century with politicians, athletes and entertainment figures, died Friday at 86.

Zeibert, who died at home in Bethesda, Md., had suffered from cancer and heart disease. No cause of death was immediately announced.

He had held court at his restaurant on Connecticut Avenue near the White House and many of Washington's law firms from the time it opened in 1950 until it closed in 1994 _ with several years out in the early 1980s while the building was torn down to make way for the modern Washington Square complex.

He was born David Zeibert in Troy, N.Y., in 1910 and said he received his nickname at 19 for the white silk pants he wore to work at a Miami restaurant.

``The other waiters made fun of me. They kept asking me, `Who do you think you are, a duke?''' he said. ``I was suddenly the duke.''

He is survived by his son, Randy, who helped run the restaurant in its latter years.