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With the Government Shut, D.C. Restaurants Offer Deals

January 2, 2019

Restaurant Business Online  //  by Peter Romeo

The bargains are aimed at patrons whose incomes have been disrupted by the federal closure.

Elected officials can’t agree on a plan to reopen the federal government, but rank-and-file employees of Uncle Sam are finding deals aplenty in the restaurants of Washington, D.C. 

Establishments ranging from fast-food joints to the fine-dining outlets of chef Jose Andres are extending freebies and deep discounts to government employees whose incomes have been disrupted by the federal shutdown. In most instances, the deals are available to anyone with an official government ID, and typically during off hours.

Here’s a sampling, arranged by the type of break that’s being offered:

Free food

The &pizza fast-casual pizza chain is offering a free pie to government employees, though local media differ on when the offer is available (one report says between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m., while another pegs the hours at 6-8 p.m.).

Furloughed workers can grab a free sandwich at the bars of Jose Andres’ four upscale restaurants in the district from 2-5 pm. Beefsteak, the chef’s plant-forward fast-casual concept, is offering a free burger during those hours.

The local unit of Carmine’s, the family-style restaurant chain run by a multiconcept operator in New York City, is offering a free order of meatball sliders from 2-4 pm. Patrons with a government work pass can also order a cocktail anytime during business hours at the discounted happy hour rates.

A free cup of coffee is offered by District Doughnut, a local hot spot, with the purchase of any food order.

Free java is also offered by Baked by Yael, along with free bagel sandwiches and cups of soup, but only while supplies last.

Food discounts

Ornery Beer Co. is offering a 25% discount to furloughed government workers and their guests. 

That price cut is deeper than the 18% discount offered by The Old Vic. 

Catch 22 is offering a 15% discount any time except during happy hour, while The Brighton in the Wharf is knocking 10% off its regular prices.

Drink discounts

The D.C. branch of the City Winery food and music chain is cutting the price of its wines to $1 a glass for idled government employees.

The Capital Lounge is snagging considerable media attention for its line of $5 drinks for furloughed workers, apparently because of the names that are used for the drinks. There’s a Nothing Really Mattis, Mexico Will Pay for This and Border Wall Banger.