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MARCH 18, 2020


Good morning,

What can I really say? This past week has been terrible. Truly, the worst. One of the top things that makes this region such an amazing place to live—our dining and drinking scene—has been brought to a standstill in the hopes of curbing the coronavirus pandemic. Restaurants and bars across DC and Maryland have been forced to halt dine-in service, while those in Virginia can’t operate with more than 10 patrons. Many have scrambled to reconfigure themselves as takeout and delivery joints. Plenty others have closed. We’re seeing massive layoffs of hospitality workers, many of whom work paycheck to paycheck. José Andrés has been brought to tears, for goodness sake.

Government is going to need to help in a big way in order for these businesses and the people behind them to get through this. In the meantime, lots of you have been asking what you can do to offer support. Here are a few options:

Hook Hall Helps
Park View bar Hook Hall has transformed into a hospitality industry assistance center providing restaurant and bar workers with free meals and emergency supply kits containing everything from toilet paper to canned soup. They’ve partnered with the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington to create a coronavirus worker relief fund that will aid those efforts. You can donate to it here. As of yesterday evening, the fund had raised more than $40,000 but is still seeking more.

Virtual Tip Jar
Reproductive rights advocate and organizer Ana Owens and her girlfriend Katie Gentsch, a bartender at Franklin Hall and King Street Oyster Bar, have set up a “virtual tip jar” so that people can directly Venmo or PayPal bartenders and servers at their favorite establishments. A public spreadsheet lists the names of workers, where they are (or were) employed, and how to send them some extra cash. On the right, you can also see who doesn’t have health insurance (a lot of them). Hospitality workers who want to be added just need to fill out this simple questionnaire. The list already contains nearly 2,000 names.

Buy a gift card
Want to support your favorite spots directly? Buy a gift card that helps keep them in business now and that you can still benefit from later. The Adams Morgan BID sent out an email calling gift cards “restaurant bonds”—”similar to ‘war bonds’ during WWI and II.” Find lists of businesses offering gift cards here and here.

Order takeout or delivery
From fine-dining to fast casual, a lot of restaurants are offering carryout in the hopes of staying afloat to continue paying employees (or what employees they have left). Meanwhile, delivery services are now emphasizing “contact-free” drop-offs to keep everyone safe. To help you sort through the many new to-go options, we’ve rounded up some of our top picks here. I’ve also been making an effort to highlight a few intriguing options each day in my Instagram stories, if you want to follow me there.


Our Cutest Cat Photo Contest has been extended! Show off your faithful feline friend by this Monday, March 23.

Surely we could all use a socially distant drink right now as well. So here’s one piece of good news: Yesterday, DC government rolled out new rules that allow beer, wine, and spirits with food deliveries. It’s no secret that restaurants make a big chunk of their profits from alcohol sales, so the change could help give them at least some boost. I’m expecting places to get pretty creative with their virtual bars, so look out for new offerings starting today. DC distillery Republic Restoratives also launched its own direct-to-consumer delivery service this week. They’re even making their own hand cleaner, which comes free with the purchase of vodka or whiskey.

Critic Ann Limpert will hold her usual chat this Friday at 11 AM, although I suspect it won’t be the usual conversation. Leave cooking, delivery, or others questions in advance here. Meanwhile, I’m still interested to hear what you’re going through in these strange times. Feel free to send photos, rants, and thoughts to jsidman@washingtonian.com.

And one last thing: We here at Washingtonian have not been immune to this crisis either. If you’ve found our coverage useful at all, I hope you will consider subscribing to the magazine. Take care of yourselves and stay safe!

-Jessica Sidman, food editor (@jsidman)

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