Businesses, restaurants struggle amid protests following months of COVID-19 closures
WASHINGTON - Across the D.C. region many businesses and restaurants are picking up the pieces after being burglarized and looted over the weekend.
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It's been a trying few months for these businesses that were first hit by the coronavirus, and are now dealing with a new set of challenges including curfews, and vandalism. Many places have boarded up their stores, some out of precaution.
And while it's been a difficult time to stay afloat, many of the owners tell FOX 5 they are standing strong with their community.
"It's sad for every business owner to see their hard work take a step back and get damaged, but we also know this is not about us. We understand the rage, the anger. We stand with those who are fighting for their lives right now," said Ran Nussbacher, co-founder of Shouk Modern Israeli Street Food off K Street in Northwest, D.C.
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"Our window breaking is such a minor part of this. It has so little to do with the racial injustice that is taking place around us. It took me all of 30 minutes to fix this window, yet we've had 400 years of injustice in this country," said Busboys and Poets CEO, Andy Shallal.
Shallah adds, "I really want to make sure this moment isn't just lost and squandered and the story here is not about a broken window it's about a broken system."
Shallal owns a number of Busboys and Poets restaurants and event centers, one of which was broken into on K Street in Northwest over the weekend.
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He has since boarded up the broken window with signs of solidarity with Blacks Lives Matter. Shallal is no stranger to unrest. He and his family moved to D.C. from Iraq in the 1960s, right before the 1968 civil rights riots in the district.
Nearby Sol Mexican Grill and some other restaurants have certainly felt the impact, and it's not only because of the physical damage they incurred. But just as they were started to bring in more business with phase 1 of re-opening, they have had to send workers home early because of curfews.
"We closed early Sunday, Monday and Tuesday we weren't able to produce any income and we're already playing with one hand tied behind our backs with COVID.... With a curfew it's meant no drivers were out, and no people were in the streets to get food," said restaurant owner Michael Schlow, with the Schlow Restaurant Group.
He said, "We need to come together as a community, as a nation and have our voices heard. This needed to happen a long time ago, just so happens COVID was probably the worst possible time. But it's an important issue and if it's during COVID, then it's during COVID."
Similar to these K Street, Northwest establishments, many other businesses throughout the region have boarded up, but have made sure to display signs or messages of solidarity with the marchers. Some owners say the massive military presence were seeing in the streets doesn't help draw in business.
When asked if they'd bring in extra security, most businesses told FOX 5 they aren't. They said the city was already looking like a war zone, and they don't want to add to that.