One of Washington, D.C.'s oldest restaurants is now on financial life support due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to DCist.
The once go-to restaurant in the nation's capital, that has welcomed everyone from Teddy Roosevelt to Stevie Wonder, has watched its sales nosedive by roughly 95% since the outbreak struck, according to David Moran, director of operations for the restaurant group that owns Old Ebbitt.
"It's not sustainable," Moran said. "The Old Ebbitt Grill is not going to continue to be a takeout and delivery-only business."
Since the city mandated all sitdown restaurants close their doors in mid-March, Old Ebbitt Grill has been forced into a takeout-only establishment. That displaced 90% of its workforce, leaving a "massive" financial strain on the company.
The Clyde's Restaurant Group, which owns Old Ebbitt and 11 other restaurants throughout the D.C. area, has seen sales dip about 95% at all of its properties. But the company still offers health insurance to employees who received it before the shutdown. And it's taking public donations for an employee assistance plan.
Jason Lukacs tended bar at the restaurant for 25 years. The last day before the city lockdown was a "surreal" experience.
"We're talking and working and doing our thing, and every two seconds you looked up and Final Four was canceled, Major League Baseball is canceled, NHL season's canceled," Lukacs says. "It was almost like a joke. It's like, I think the guy said to me, 'What's next? They going to shut the Old Ebbitt down?'"
Lukacs said the restaurant has provided the staff with disaster pay and free meals during the pandemic. But he does not know what to expect when Old Ebbitt opens back up.
"When we do go back to work, I have no idea what we're going back to," Lukacs says. "You walk up and down any street in D.C., I'd say more than half of these restaurants and bars that are there won't even be there when this is over."
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