Another Furloughed Night in Shutdown City

D.C. bars and eateries are embracing the shutdown with characteristic panache — and some amazing promos.

National Journal
Dustin Volz
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Dustin Volz
Oct. 3, 2013, 7:37 a.m.

We all learned what it’s like for Wash­ing­ton to turn in­to Shut­down City this week. The closed zoos and me­mori­als, hap­less tour­ists, and le­gions of “non­es­sen­tial” fed­er­al em­ploy­ees sud­denly with too much free time on their hands is as jar­ring as our earth­quake-rav­aged Wash­ing­ton Monu­ment.

To of­fer some res­pite for the lost souls of the fur­loughed, dozens of D.C. bars and eat­er­ies are do­ing what they do best: of­fer­ing up a smor­gas­bord of shut­down-themed food and drink deals that would make even the most jaded bur­eau­crat con­sider the up­sides of an un­paid va­ca­tion.

A free sand­wich at chef Jose An­dres’s es­tab­lish­ments from 3 to 5 p.m. for any pat­ron with a gov­ern­ment ID was one of the best food deals we spot­ted. The promo is good every day of the week un­til the fur­lough ends, and is even val­id for “to go” or­ders, though only three sand­wiches are fea­tured (flauta de ja­mon ser­rano at Ja­leo, the chick­en shawarma at Za­yt­inya, and torta pan­cita at Oy­amel).

“Ob­vi­ously not be­ing able to work is a tough thing in this city,” said Stephanie Sal­vador, a spokes­wo­man for An­dres’s chain of res­taur­ants. “This is An­dres’s way to provide a little something” to fur­loughed pat­rons.

Some joints don’t even care if you’re fur­loughed or not. “We’re try­ing to ap­pease the masses as much as we can,” said a work­er at Uni­on Pub, where $3 “shut it down” shots of whis­key are be­ing offered to gov­ern­ment work­ers and any­one else wish­ing to par­take in the fur­lough com­mis­er­a­tion.

Tor­tilla Coast, a Cap­it­ol Hill staple for in­terns and vet­er­ans alike (but mostly in­terns), is al­low­ing cus­tom­ers to start drown­ing their sor­rows with happy-hour spe­cials that be­gin at noon. Use your cred­it card to guzzle some $6 mar­gar­itas or $3.75 drafts and de­vour some $4 choice ap­pet­izers. The deal is also good at TC’s Dupont Circle loc­a­tion.

Kramer­books & Af­ter­words Cafe is of­fer­ing happy-hour spe­cials from open un­til close dur­ing the shut­down for any­one who walks in be­cause “we all suf­fer. Not just fed­er­al em­ploy­ees,” said Mark Kutcher, a man­ager at the ven­er­able D.C. in­sti­tu­tion. Every­one, that is, ex­cept law­makers, whom Kutcher some­what jok­ingly scape­goated. “If a con­gress­man or sen­at­or came to the bar and I re­cog­nized them, I would cer­tainly try to make them pay double,” Kutcher said.

Oth­er spe­cials were simply too gen­er­ous to last. Z-Bur­ger prom­ised free bur­gers to feds down on their luck, but the own­er reneged on the deal Wed­nes­day due to “over­whelm­ing crowds” that caused the res­taur­ant to hem­or­rhage cash to the tune of about $30,000 a day.Z-Bur­gers may no longer be free, but most oth­er deals are con­tinu­ing un­abated (ex­cept for 9:30 Club’s two-for-one “Af­ford­able Tick­et Act,” which we totally missed the boat on).

How long are these fur­lough free­bies and spe­cials go­ing to last? That’s as hard to pre­dict as the the shut­down it­self, and few store man­agers are will­ing to prof­fer a guess.”We really don’t know” how long the spe­cials will con­tin­ue, Kramer­books’ Kutcher said. “Nobody knows what the heck’s go­ing on up on the Hill.”

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