Government Shutdown Effect on Restaurants

file581287608884Effects of the government shutdown have been in all the headlines, and the restaurant industry is not immune. The government shutdown effect on restaurants reaches far beyond Washington D.C. and has even forced some restaurants to close.

Of course, with the closure of national parks across the country, famed restaurants inside the parks, including the likes of the Ahwahnee Dining Room in Yosemite and the Old Faithful Inn Dining Room in Yellowstone, are closed. However, two other historical and notable restaurants, the City Tavern in Philadelphia and the Cliff House in San Francisco, are both closed since they are also part of the National Park Service, according to Zagat’s “5 Ways the Shutdown Affects the Restaurant World.”

Since its initial closing as a concessioner in Golden Gate Park, the Cliff House re-opened on Monday a week after the shutdown, according to the San Francisco Chronicle blog, Inside Scoop SF. Defying the closure order issued by the National Park Service, the restaurant opened and included the following as part of its statement: “As a successful, independent, privately owned business that does not depend on any tax dollars or federal funding, the Cliff House must have income.” However, after two days of operations, the restaurant was forced to close again and will remain closed for the duration of the government shutdown.

Restaurants Near Federal Buildings Hurting

Of course, restaurants in Washington, D.C. are hurting with hundreds of thousands of furloughed workers staying home. According to the Office of Personnel Management, over 300,000 Federal employees work in the D.C. metropolitan area, including the District of Columbia, Montgomery and Prince Georges counties in Maryland, Arlington and Fairfax counties in Virginia, and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Fall Church, VA. That’s a lot of lost lunch, happy hour, and dinner revenue. Conversely, restaurants in the nation’s capital that are popular with tourists are faring a bit better. With tourists stuck in the city with no place to go, those eateries are seeing typical crowds; however, that could be short-lived as the number of tourists dwindles with the ongoing government closure and cancellations increase.

According to Eater.com’s “The Government Shutdown Is Taking a Toll on Restaurants,” restaurant owners near Capitol Hill are reporting decreases of 25%. New York City is another area hard hit by the government shutdown with a large concentration of federal buildings in lower Manhattan. The New York Post reports that restaurant losses in that area range from 35 to 50 percent.

Anniston, Alabama is nearly a thousand miles from Washington, D.C. but is also home to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Center for Domestic Preparedness. Cooter Brown’s Rib Shack has seating capacity for 52 and on many nights FEMA workers or those attending training classes at the Anniston facility take up nearly every seat. Owner Tim Johnson told The Anniston Star that tables are empty and the next step will be to layoff wait staff.

A Small Dose of Sunshine

Despite the struggles, some restaurants are offering specials for furloughed federal workers and in some cases, the general public. D.C.’s WTOP radio opened its blog for listeners to post where restaurant and other deals can be found.

Here’s to a speedy resolution to eliminate the government shutdown effect on restaurants… and all of us.

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