As the government shutdown wears on, restaurants across America are chipping in to help furloughed federal employees despite being hit hard in their own pocketbooks.
On December 22nd, the federal government shut its doors and stopped paying some 800,000 workers. They’ve recently been guaranteed back pay for when the government re-opens--whenever that might be--but in the meantime, TSA agents, park rangers, and various bureaucratic agencies have been without pay for nearly a month.
It’s not just federal employees feeling the pinch; business from all walks of life are losing tons of cash. Delta Airlines predicts they’ll have lost $25 million due to the shutdown, and some analysts think that the entire US GDP has shrunk by one percent so far.
Restaurants are taking a double whammy. Not only are they losing customers as government workers stay home instead of going in to work, they’re also helping out as much as they can by feeding out-of-work fed employees.
But while the US government can’t seem to agree on anything these days, at least restaurant owners can come together and show some humanity in these dark days.
One of the first was celebrity chef José Andrés, who tweeted out that he’d feed furloughed workers a free sandwich every day that the government remains shut down.
And I will offer again Free Sandwiches to the poor men and women of the federal government, republicans and democrats, at every restaurant of mine in DC for lunch until they get paid again! https://t.co/hHUnPrqhsF— José Andrés (@chefjoseandres) December 21, 2018
And he wasn’t alone. Various DC-based eateries, from cafes to bakeries to bars, are offering federal employees deals and meals while they go without a paycheque. Eater DC has a full list, including The Capital Lounge serving $5 drink deals and Ejji Ramen giving away free rice bowls to anyone with government ID badge.
Washington isn’t the only city helping out government employees. Mexican restaurant Twisted Tromp in Texas is offering $1 tacos to federal workers, while Chef Créole at Miami International Airport is giving TSA workers free lunch and dinner every day they’re working without pay.
Louisiana's Ruby Slipper is giving federal employees in New Orleans free meals to government workers and their immediate family during the shutdown. “Our staff has been excited to offer it, almost everyone can think of someone they know who has been impacted,” said marketing manager Veronica Ridgley.
It’s good to know that federal employees won’t go hungry, but if the shutdown continues for very much longer they’ll need to start worrying about big-ticket items, like mortgage payments and rent. Something tells us the banks and landowners are going to be a lot less generous than restaurants.