Weather challenges local businesses

Local businesses have had to deal with fluctuating crowds, stranded employees and snowy storefronts over the last week, since the two winter storms began last Friday.

While the snow meant decreased revenue for some restaurants and bars, it translated into soaring business for others. Local markets, in particular, reported benefiting from the influx of customers looking to stock up on staples like milk, eggs and bread.

Employees at the Trader Joe’s at 25th and L streets, which remained open with regular hours throughout the storm, said they were too busy with long lines of customers to comment on their business. Safeway also maintained regular hours to keep up with the rush. Both stores had bare shelves at times over the last week due to the heavy flow of shoppers.

On-campus eateries encountered mixed customer levels. The Starbucks at Gelman Library remained open every day throughout the storm on adjusted hours, and employees said they experienced slower traffic. An employee at McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon noticed a decrease in the number of people coming in despite operating on regular hours. But Froggy Bottom Pub’s revenue has remained at normal levels, Manager Hien Bui said.

“I am looking at the revenue, it’s all the same… Of course we don’t have federal employees, we don’t have GW employees, but you know we do a lot of carry out. So they pick it up,” Bui said.

At Kramerbooks and Afterwords Café in Dupont Circle, one employee had to take drastic measures to make sure she got to work.

“I live in Arlington, Va. and there’s 30 inches of snow outside my house right now,” Claire Coogan said Tuesday. “But I knew the storm was coming, so on Friday I moved in – I just brought a huge bag – and went to stay with my aunt up [on] Connecticut Avenue. So I’ve been camped out on the floor since Friday and I don’t know when I’m going home.”

Many restaurants, including Kramer’s, McFadden’s and Busboys and Poets, have offered hotel accommodations for employees who can’t make the trip to and from work. Froggy Bottom Pub resorted to picking up any employees who otherwise wouldn’t be able to come in.

The massive snowball fight that occurred on Saturday afternoon in Dupont Circle brought into Kramer’s huge crowds seeking post-combat hot chocolate and warmth, Coogan said.

At Kramer’s, a sheet of ice slid off the roof and took down the restaurant’s awning on Sunday. Employees spent the next day removing the remainder of the awning. According to D.C. law, property owners must clear sidewalks within eight hours after snowfall stops. At many restaurants, employees pitched in by shoveling and salting storefronts.

“A lot of people have been coming in before the storm to stock up on cozy snow reading,” she said. “People came to the bookstore for literally Charles Dickens. I have never sold so many copies of Dickens before.”

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