DC Businesses Offer Helping Hand to Federal Employees Amid Shutdown

D.C. businesses are showing solidarity with furloughed government employees.

October 2, 2013, 3:47 PM

Oct. 2, 2013— -- A government shutdown has gripped Washington, D.C., and federal agencies across the country for the first time in nearly two decades. An estimated 800,000 government employees have been furloughed.

So what's an out-of-work government employee to do to ward off the doom and gloom?

Despair not. Dozens of businesses in and around Washington are showing their solidarity by offering furloughed employees free or discounted food, drinks and activities to keep their spirits high during the shutdown.

From free cupcakes to $2 beer specials and free museum admissions to free pole-dancing classes, ABC News has compiled a list of some of the unexpected perks of being a "non-essential" government employee:


Government workers will not go hungry -- or without a sugar fix -- thanks to the largesse of several area establishments.

Jose Andres Sandwiches Internationally renowned chef Jose Andres is offering free sandwiches every afternoon during the shutdown to government employees. Bring your government ID into one of his three DC eateries -- Zaytinya, Oyamel or Jaleo -- from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. during the shutdown and receive a complimentary sandwich.

Z-BurgerThe burger chain is offering free burgers, with a valid government ID, to workers during peak lunch and dinner hours, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., at four of its DC-area locations: Arlington, Tenleytown, Southwest and Columbia Heights. This offer extends until the end of the government shutdown.

Pork Barrel BBQPork Barrel BBQ is also offering free food for the duration of the shutdown to all government employees -- well, every government employee except for members of Congress. The BBQ joint is serving up free pulled pork sandwiches all day, limit one per day, in Alexandria, Va.

Sophie's Cuban DCThe new restaurant opens this Thursday, and is showing its support for furloughed government employees by giving away empanadas. Make any purchase at the restaurant, and show your government ID, and you will receive three free empanadas.

Cupcake BlvdCupcake Blvd. is offering one free cupcake to federal employees affected by the shutdown from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., through Friday. So bring your federal ID to the Anne Arundel County cupcakery, and #KeepCalmHaveACupcake.

Taylor Gourmet This authentic market specializing in hoagies is offering furloughed federal workers "a 10 percent discount, career counseling and a cookie" with the purchase of any hoagie or salad.

Del CampoSouth American steakhouse Del Campo has another fix for federal employees with the shutdown blues. The restaurant is offering happy hour prices for the duration of the shutdown, all day long, with a government ID.

Sticky RiceAn H Street NE sushi bar, Sticky Rice began offering half-price sushi and half-price domestic beers at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday in honor of the government shutdown.

Gourmet CottageGourmet Cottage, a store specializing in unique gourmet chocolates, wines, foods and gifts, is offering a government shutdown special of 15% off for all furloughed government workers and contractors. Present your valid government ID, and the discount is good until government re-opens.

Boston MarketFrom October 6-13, Boston Market is offering all federal employees a free whole chicken with the purchase of a family meal. Show your federal ID at any of Boston Market's 460 locations across the country, to take part in this offer.


A number of D.C. bars are offering slashed happy hour prices and discounted drink specials.

Duffy's Irish PubDuffy's Irish Pub on U St. has $2 beers (Miller Lite, Natty Boh, Coors Light and Pabst Blue Ribbon tallboys) and $5 Jameson shots after 10 p.m. through Thursday during the shutdown. As the bar's facebook page says, "Just because you can't work doesn't have to mean you can't live it up a little!"

Kangaroo Boxing ClubLooking for an earlier fix? BBQ restaurant and bar Kangaroo Boxing Club, on 11th St., is offering $3 screwdrivers from noon to 5 p.m. Those with government ID get their first one free.

Meridian PintMeridian Pint in Columbia Heights is promoting its "local ales for budgets ails," opening early for lunch with three local drafts priced at $5. An additional 10 percent off will also be offered to federal employees with a valid government ID until 5 p.m.

D.C. Reynolds Restaurant and beer garden D.C. Reynolds on Georgia Ave. is offering buy one get one free drink specials from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day of the government shutdown.

Mockingbird Hill For any federal employee in need of a drink, Mockingbird Hill is offering a free glass of sherry to government employees who show their ID.

The Daily DishFeeling thirsty but not trying to get your drink on? The Daily Dish, located in Silver Springs, is offering a free cup of coffee without additional purchase to all government workers for the duration of the shutdown. Members of Congress pay double.


Though the National Zoo's panda cam has gone dark and the Smithsonian museums have shut their doors, there's still plenty of fun to be had in D.C. as a number of institutes are waiving usual admission fees or offering perks for furloughed workers.

The National Geographic MuseumThe museum is waived its usual admission fee ($11 for adults, $7 for children) and allowing visitors in for free on Tuesday, though the deal did not apply to groups of 10 or more. Check back to see if the deal is ongoing. Current exhibits include "Lions & Tigers & Bears: Through the Lens with National Geographic" and "One Cubic Foot: Portraits of Biodiversity."

The National Museum of Women in the ArtsThis is the only museum in the world dedicated to exhibiting creations by female artists. It waived its usual $10 adult admission fee on Tuesday for anyone with a government ID. Check to see if the deal continues through the week. Current exhibits include "Awake in a Dream World," a career retrospective of artist and author Audrey Niffenegger, and public art installation "New York Ave Sculpture Project."

The Phillips CollectionAmerica's first modern art museum will remain open and waive its $12 adult admission fee to view the permanent collection, including works by Georgia O'Keeffe, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh, for the remainder of the week.

Fibre Space in Alexandria Got a case of museum fatigue? Fibre Space in Alexandria is offering free knitting classes (regular price is $75) between 1 a.m. and 5 p.m. every day of the shutdown for furloughed workers with a government ID. Yarn and needles can either be brought from home or purchased in class.

Sixth & I Historic SynagogueIf you're just looking to hang out, the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue is hosting "Shutdown Central," a place where affected employees and the general public can enjoy free coffee, food and Wi-Fi while killing time playing Political Ping Pong, board games and getting a much needed dose of Rob Lowe via constant streaming of "The West Wing."

The Beltway Plaza MallHaven't had a chance to catch that new Joseph Gordon-Levitt movie? The Beltway Plaza Mall in Greenbelt is giving away a free box lunch and movie ticket at Academy 8 theaters to anyone who has been furloughed, not exclusively government employees, for the entire month of October. Current movies screening include "Prisoners," "Don Jon" and "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2" in 3D.


Looking for a way to burn those calories from all the free shutdown food and drinks? Some local D.C. studios are offering free classes for furloughed workers.

Polerized Fitness StudioPolerized Fitness Studio, based outside of Old Town Alexandria, is offering a free pole-dancing class this week for furloughed employees with government ID. Don't work for the government and still want to learn a few new tricks? Free intro classes are offered for first-time clients.

Potomac PilatesWould you rather unwind? Potomac Pilates is offering two free classes to furloughed federal employees. Those looking to claim must create an account on potomacpilates.net and email catherine@potomacpilates.net with your government job title and department for verification purposes.