As the country heads into its second week of the government shutdown, restaurants are increasingly feeling the burden. Whether in reduced customer attendance or, in some cases, actually be forced to shutter, the shutdown has certainly taken its toll on the restaurant community in DC and beyond. Here's how:
In DC, restaurants have reported diminished lunch and dinner service attendance plus large party cancellations. A spokesperson for the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington explains: "We're starting to hear some things that would make any trade association worried." The owner of Toscana Cafe, located on the Hill, tells NBC4 that business is down approximately 25%. Restaurants near government centers in other cities are experiencing problems, too. In Anniston, AL a restaurant located inside the McClellan Park Medical Mall reports that business is down as much as 40%, in part because a large percentage of its daily customers work for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.
DC restaurants that have been popular with tourists seem to be weathering the shutdown a bit better. A spokesperson from Founding Farmers tells Eater DC that the restaurant is "as busy as ever." And one pizzeria owner tells NPR that in the short run, the shutdown has actually been good for business. At least, for now that is.
Several restaurants that have been forced to close entirely during the shutdown, largely because they are located within buildings or parks that have been shut down. Philadelphia's City Tavern is located inside Independence National Historical Park, and was forced to shutter. The restaurant estimates that a longterm closure could cost "hundreds of thousands of dollars."
Faced with forced closures, some restaurants have fought back and reopened in spite of the mandate. In Yorkville, Virginia the Carrot Tree was forced to close because it is located in a historic home operated by the National Park Service. The restaurant announced its plans to reopen on Facebook, calling their decision "Occupy NPS." Owner Glenn Helseth tells ABC13 that part of the reason he is reopening is because the NPS "hasn't taken any action to stop him." And he's not the only restaurant operator going rogue.
In San Francisco, the owners of the Cliff House reopened their restaurant yesterday, despite orders not to. The restaurant was closed because it is a concessioner at the Golden Gate Park. In a press statement, the owners explain: "As a successful, independent, privately owned business that does not depend on any tax dollars or federal funding, the Cliff House must have income." It's still unclear if or how the government will respond to defiant restaurants like Cliff House and the Carrot Tree.