Snow. Omicron. Snowmicron. Post-holiday exhaustion. Pre-vaccine mandate maintenance. Blame what you want—restaurants, like all of us, need a break sometimes. And given the state of affairs so far in 2022, more businesses are taking a January pause than usual.
Some are opting to give employees post-holiday time off before what could be a busy(ish?) time around DC Winter Restaurant Week (January 17-23) and Valentine’s Day. Residents Cafe & Bar in Dupont Circle, which just opened a pretty outdoor winter lodge, announced they’ll close January 4-14 to give employees “well-deserved” time off.
Others are using the downtime to prepare for the future. Michelin-starred chef Ryan Ratino announced he’s pausing service at Bresca and tasting room Jont “for research and development, broadening our horizons, and learning new crafts” through January 14. Mt. Vernon spot La Betty from the family behind Baked & Wired recently put out the word they’re closing for winter to “regroup and reimagine.”
A growing number of businesses are also temporarily closing due to positive Covid-19 tests among employees. Shaw dive Ivy & Coney, which requires both guests and staff to be vaccinated, announced on Monday they’re closing for the second time in the past two weeks due to infection.
Restaurants are also taking preventative measures and closing for indoor dining while keeping takeout and delivery available, such as pizzerias Etto and 2 Amys (patio seating is available, weather depending). Ditto for Mt. Pleasant favorite Elle. Others are closing indoor dining in preparation for new vaccine mandates, whether self-imposed or regulated by the District. Take, for example, Silver Spring-based brewery Denizens, which is closing its indoor taprooms there and in Riverdale Park through January 7; once they reopen, the business will require proof of vaccination.
Others don’t have a firm deadline for reopening indoor dining. Danny Lee, co-owner of Korean gastropub Anju and fast-casual siblings Chiko, says his team will welcome guests back when the staff feels comfortable.
“We’re just seeing the numbers in the area, and we decided in the best interest of the team and guests we’ll stick to takeout and delivery,” says Lee, who made the difficult decision to close before New Year’s Eve and shift Anju’s planned prix-fixe to takeout. He says reopening won’t necessarily depend on Covid-19 statistics, or DC’s new vaccine mandate, which goes into effect January 15.
“Number one, it’s just how comfortable we feel,” says Lee. “Hopefully, that’s soon but we’re not going to rush it.”