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The coronavirus pandemic is destroying what makes D.C. cool. Nightlife impresarios and brothers Eric and Ian Hilton are closing seven bars for the foreseeable future come Oct. 31: American Ice Company, The Brixton, Echo Park, El Rey, The Gibson, Marvin, and Players Club.
Each bar has a distinct personality, offering residents a craft cocktail with a side of class (Gibson) or swachos with a side of sports (American Ice). Always offering a good time. Sometimes a terrible hangover. Residents are grieving yet another string of business closures in these terrible times. And every bar or restaurant closure means more people are out of work and less sales tax for the city.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the closure of a dear member of the Howard University community,” tweeted the Howard University Student Association after learning about El Rey’s closure.
“Some of the worst people in the world present at the Brixton. Was like our own special window into a ring of Hell, and I think that’s special,” tweeted a resident.
So what are we to do with this news?
“There’s no point trying to jam a square peg into a round hole,” says City Paper’s Laura Hayes, who first reported the news of the bar closures. “The phased reopening process isn’t working for many bars. People don’t want to be inside. This virus spreads through respiratory droplets. What do you do in bars? You lean in and flirt, you shout when your team scores, you belt karaoke at the top of your lungs.”
“They need financial help,” Hayes says.
Hayes notes that several forms of aid bars and restaurants have received so far have evaporated, and winter is coming: Federal loans have dried up, local migrogrants have been distributed, and insurance to cover the losses is not kicking in despite grassroots, legal, and D.C. Council efforts.
Barred in DC, an industry blog, offers creative solutions for how D.C. should act in lieu of further help from Congress. Among the recommendations for the mayor: Create additional outdoor space for bars and restaurants, and prepare for winter by facilitating heating of outdoor spaces. It’s not clear what D.C.’s plans are for the change in season so far.
Another good point, compliments of your local bar The Pug: “Wondering who, among those lamenting our small biz closings, work for the members that granted territorial and not state relief funds for DC.” (Reminder: Congress treated D.C. like a territory as opposed to state, thus shortchanging us $750 million in recovery dollars.)
—Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? firstname.lastname@example.org)
CITY DESK LINKS, by Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? email@example.com)
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SPORTS LINKS, by Kelyn Soong (tips? email@example.com)
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