Inauguration weekend typically means big business for local restaurants and bars. But in the days after the election, there was chatter about something that had never been considered in years past.
“People all around the community, they would hear from other people or just patrons [saying], ‘Oh man, all the restaurants should just do a blackout and close,” says Mandu owner Danny Lee.
To Lee, that idea is totally absurd. “That goes against the concept of what we do for a living… We’re in the hospitality industry,” he says.
Not to mention that inauguration weekend can provide a cash infusion in an otherwise slow month. Even if they did want to take some kind of political stand, most places don’t have the luxury to shut down, especially with employees who depend on them.
Instead, a group of restaurants are banding together as part of campaign called “All in Service” to give a portion of their proceeds to charity during inauguration weekend. While it might seem like a quiet act of protest against Donald Trump, that is not necessarily the intent, says Sarah Massey, a PR rep who’s working with co-organizers Alaina Dyne and Amanda Carpenter. (Both are servers but didn’t want to say where they work.)
“We know that tens of thousands of people are coming into the District for that weekend. There are going to be Trump supporters coming into town, and there are going to be protestors,” Massey says. “What this can do is show everyone that Washington, DC’s service industry cares about our community.”
So far, 17 restaurants and bars are participating, and many more are expected to sign on. Each business will give to the non-profit of its choice in different ways.
Many of the causes—including homeless services group Thrive DC and Mary’s Center, which provides health care, education, and social services to those in need—aren’t political. However, Bourbon and The Queen Vic have pledged to Planned Parenthood, and Breadsoda is giving to Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for LGBTQ equality.
The group behind Tryst, the Diner, the Coupe, and Open City is supporting to Mary’s Center, which has a location nearby in Adams Morgan. Staff at each of the restaurants will give patrons envelopes with their checks asking for donations, then the company as a whole will match the donations of the store that raises the most dollars. Beverage director David Fritzler says the goal is to get at least 1,000 individual donations.
“Post-election, a lot of us were not real excited about [the inauguration] even though it’s our job to take care of everyone,” says Fritzler. “Also a lot of regulars and people in the community might feel similarly, so we wanted to do what we just naturally do, which is be hospitable and open to everybody, and to feel like we were doing something good.”
Mandu is likewise supporting Mary’s Center, although Lee hasn’t decided yet if he’ll donate a percentage of proceeds or a flat amount.
Meanwhile, Bar à Vin, the sister bar to Georgetown’s Chez Billy Sud, is donating 5 percent of sales from January 20 through 22 to Ayuda, an organization that aids immigrants in Washington. Co-owner Clementine Thomas says their choice of charity is not meant to be political, but rather to support a big demographic in the restaurant industry.
“DC, people kind of forget that it’s a real city with real people and a real community that lives here,” Thomas says. “For us, it was important to take the opportunity of a weekend when there are lots of people who don’t live here coming into town to promote things that are important to our community.”
Take a look at all the participating bars and restaurants and the charities they’re supporting at allinservicedc.com.