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Government Shutdown Food News Roundup: Restaurant Deals, Food Safety, and More

Photo: bmills / Flickr

The government is still in shutdown mode after Congress failed to reach a budget deal. Here is today's food and drink related shutdown news:

Big Picture

The Miami New Times lists nine ways the shutdown will impact restaurants and consumers, featuring everything from delayed liquor licensing requests to the closure of Julia Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian. [MNT]

Apparently furloughed government workers have been heading in numbers to bars in New York City and Washington, DC since leaving work yesterday afternoon. Says one worker: "We are drowning our sorrows." [NYP]

Deals & Discounts

Eater DC has a list of restaurants and bars offering specials in honor of the shutdown. Specials include free doughnuts at Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken, sandwich deals from José Andrés at Jaleo, Oyamel, and Zaytinya, and Carmine's is offering their private dining room free of charge to government leaders "if they need to hammer out an agreement over spaghetti." Some deals are limited-time only while others will last the length of the shutdown. [Eater DC; Previously]

Also in DC, Bryan Voltaggio is offering government workers free "Govt Cheese Pizza" at Range until the shutdown is over. (Does not apply to members of Congress). [@BryanVoltaggio]

Just outside of Louisville, Feast BBQ is offering "shutdown-inspired specials" including 10% off for all Federal government employees during the shutdown. "Congressmen and Senators need not apply." [Eater Louisville]

In Houston, Saint Arnold's is offering $3 off of lunch to furloughed government workers and Gratifi is offering "20% off (with ID) while your employer d*cks around with the country." [Eater Houston]

Several restaurant in Atlanta are offering discounts to furloughed government employees. Some of the more unusual deals include free cheese dip at Taqueria del Mar and free tours of SweetWater Brewing. [Eater Atlanta]

AMC movie theaters will offer free popcorn to furloughed federal employees, regardless of whether or not they have a movie ticket. The offer will last "until common sense is restored in Washington, D.C., or, more likely, until the shutdown ends or we run out of free popcorn." [THR via Vulture]

Marketing Gimmicks

The Washington Business Journal asks whether shutdown specials are "moneymakers" or "publicity moves." Says one DC bar owner: "We're not offering free drinks to make money ... Realistically, we'll probably break even. But we want to take care of our people." [WBJ]

In Boston, restaurants and bars like Saus, Taco Party, Common Ground Bar, and Tiki Hideaway took to Twitter to use the shutdown as "a perfectly hashtaggable marketing moment." [Eater Boston]

Similarly in Austin, bars and restaurants like Lustre Pearl, Torchy's Tacos, and Russian House also used the shutdown as a way to self-promote on social media. [Eater Austin]

Biting Back

Some restaurants in DC are denying deals to members of Congress, and even threatening to charge them extra. Some examples: during Kramerbooks & Afterwards Cafe's all-day Happy Hour, Congress pays double. [Eater DC]

Bad for Business

The City View Bar and Grill located near the Social Security Administration in Baltimore has already felt the impact of the shutdown, with fewer customers and reduced tips for servers. The owner says: "If it stays like this, the game is over and I'll have to close. I don't have the money to support it." [BBJ]

The impact of the shutdown on independently owned restaurants is happening all over the country: from the Park Cafe next to the Joshua Tree National Park visitor's center to the North Carolina restaurants located near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. [PE Bloggers; CNN]

Food service within the government has also been impacted by the shutdown. Apparently the hot, buffet-style lunches typically served in the Senate building have been replaced with boxed lunches and only two cafeterias remain open. [Politico]

Food Safety

The FDA's food safety inspection program has been suspended, with "the bulk of FDA food inspectors hav[ing] been deemed non-essential." Inspections at food facilities will likely grind to a halt. According to Politico, food safety advocates are "very concerned." Says one such advocate: "Make no mistake: The safety of our food supply will suffer." [HuffPo, Politico]


A New York Times video explores Washington, DC in the wake of the shutdown calling it an "identity crisis." One food truck owner explains: "I don't know what to do. We're here to make money ... 90% of our customers are Federal." [NYT]

On The Daily Show, host Jon Stewart calls the shutdown "March of the Dumbs" and speculates about the impact of closing down programs like the FDA and supplemental nutrition for women, infants and children. "It's like taking candy from a baby. Except instead of candy it's food." That video, below. [Daily Show]

· All Congress Coverage on Eater [-E-]

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