Riots, looting, and violence erupted in the city of Baltimore over the weekend in the aftermath of the killing of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who was violently arrested by police. Since then, the city has announced a 10 p.m. curfew for all residents and businesses in an effort to calm the unrest. Some area restaurants have already closed their doors for the sake of safety or because they have been vandalized.
While the need for the curfew is clear, area restaurants and bars in Baltimore's otherwise unaffected neighborhoods will probably feel a pinch in business.
"We have insurance for vandalism, not loss of revenue."
Richard Gorelick, restaurant critic for the Baltimore Sun, noted the possible effects in a recent piece. Bar owner Liam Flynn told the Sun, "Have the National Guard on the street, but don't shut down our businesses. The media blowout has everyone freaked out except for people who live in the city and know what the turf is like and what's actually happening in the street." Flynn thinks the curfew should be amended for anyone over the age of 21 so that his bar can stay open and serve customers until 2 a.m. Flynn went so far as to post a letter to the mayor on change.org which reads, in part, "With a curfew, you will do more damage financially to our bars & restaurants than rioters will do... We have insurance for vandalism, not loss of revenue."
How will it affect servers who rely on tips?
Chef Brian Voltaggio, best known for his appearance on Bravo's Top Chef, chose to close his restaurant Family Meal on Monday afternoon. He told the Sun, "We were unsure about what was happening. We need to make sure that residents and people coming into our city can go out without feeling unsafe." Voltaggio expressed concern for his staff at Aggio, his other Baltimore-area restaurant: "I'm really worried about what it's going to do for business this week... not just my business, but how it will affect servers who are relying on tips."
The curfew officially went into place last night at 10 p.m. The city released information to business owners detailing logistics:
Dear Business and Community Leaders,
Many businesses have asked about the curfew policy being implemented tonight and its impact on business hours and employees. Below are key points:
1. The night-time curfew applies for all citizens (with exceptions of emergency personnel and those commuting to and from work for essential functions, including students traveling to/from classes).
2. Non-essential business operations should be suspended from 10:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. This includes restaurants, entertainment venues and bars, which should be closed during these times. Please ensure visitors and patrons have enough time to travel before the curfew begins.
3. For essential business operations, employees traveling to and from work during the curfew should have a valid picture ID (presumably a driver's license) and a document from their employee stating their need to work during curfew hours with dates and employee hours.
4. Drivers or individuals may be stopped by law enforcement and should be prepared with the information above to avoid arrest.
The city will enforce the curfew for one week, or until further notice.