Category Archives: DC Bar News

An Interview with the Porch Guy

Peter Tracey, the DC resident who went viral on Wednesday. Screengrab from video shot by Veronica Westhrin

Note: This post has been updated to add the name of the woman in car

Yesterday, DC and the nation were rocked by pro-Trump protesters/rioters/terrorists/insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol and broke inside in face of a woefully prepared (or worse) U.S Capitol Police force while Congress was debating the electoral college vote. This was upsetting to the majority of the country and certainly DC residents, particularly to see how these folks were treated compared to the violent show of force by DC Police and Federal forces this June at Lafayette Park and elsewhere in DC.

In the midst of this, a video shot by Norwegian journalist Veronica Westhrin went viral of a White DC resident yelling at Trump protesters to “Get the fuck outta town! Fucking treasonous pieces of shit!” and then engaging with a Black woman driving a vehicle about the clear racial disparities in how the authorities treated (“And it’s like nobody gives a shit! If that was Black Lives Matter there would be tanks roling down Pennsylvania Avenue! But they let these fucking crackers take over the goddamn Capitol….What the fuck is that?) (Here’s a short clip at the beginning cut off from the original video and a short clip at the end with more from the woman.)

The raw anger and emotion exhibited by the man and woman resonated with hundreds of thousands of people, being seen millions of times.

Using some Internet sleuth skills, I discovered (in about 10 minutes) the porch man’s identity is Peter Tracey, Senior Counsel (formerly a law firm partner) at the Big law firm Perkins Coie. I sent him an email last night with the Subject line: “Hero to all” and the body solely consisting of “Thank you.” He replied this morning: “Thank you, yesterday was a tough day but we got through it.” I followed up to see if he was interesting in speaking further about everything and to my surprise he called me to talk. Here’s what he had to say (not verbatim completely; bold is my emphasis):

“I agreed with the Mayor’s guidance that we should not engage. But I saw this couple walking back with the Trump flag unfurled. I just let them have it. I have done that a couple times at these last couple rallies and have let my thoughts be known. But it just happened that a Norwegian TV crew was outside and filmed the whole thing.

My general impression that this gave people a little bit of lift on a very bad day. I’m happy with it because everything I said is what I believe. I think the issue…needs to be focused on the disparity between the way that people of color would have been treated had they done the same thing versus the kid glove treatment that these guys got yesterday. I think that tells you all you need to know about the fundamental problems in this country. People say they broke in, but they actually acted like they owned the Capitol and pretty much were treated that way. As opposed to people of color who would have been beaten, shot, and absolutely massacred after something like that. That to me, is the fundamental issue that is going on here.

I just hope with the new administration coming in that people of color and White allies step up and really put this on the agenda because this has got to be addressed.

We’re so lucky here in DC. We got problems. We’re a diverse community. Yes there are tensions. Yes it’s not perfect. We have the advantage of regularly living among different backgrounds than us and I think we grow by that. Then these knuckleheads that come from out of town and they think they run the world and it’s so distressing.

When you live in DC you have to expect that people are going to protest that think differently than you…I get that. But the way this administration has handled this has been disastrous from soup to nuts and, at a certain point, and I think they crossed that point yesterday, everyone is basically complicit in crimes. I just hope that the city and Feds in the new administration be aggressive about pursuing these people….

This is exactly what white privilege is. You know what? I had white privilege to be able to sit there and scream that crap. I get that. But at the same time…nice thing about our neighborhood is that cars are close enough that I can talk to the people in the cars from my porch… I understand and I agree with guidance we got from city to not engage. Trump was looking for any excuse for a confrontation to do something like that to invoke the Insurrection Act. But I just let them have it.

I grew up in New England. One of my ex brothers-in-law came to this rally…Apparently he’s fallen into this weird QAnon, Democrats taking small children thing. He’s falling into this hole. It’s not that I have no connection to this. It’s sad to me. At same time you got to put your foot down…I noticed that the only people…who are raising the disparate treatment on TV are all Black people. White people need to be be talking about and engaging. Big mission of this next administration.”

Note I asked him if his fellow firm lawyer, Democratic Party elections lawyer Marc Elias had anything to say; he said he had not heard from him but all of his other colleagues who talked to him had no problem with it. UPDATE: In an email later today, Tracey stated “By the way, Marc Elias and other colleagues I have heard from at the firm have all been very supportive, and while my language may have been a little colorful, the values involved clearly are fully shared.” I also asked him whether he would be interested in running for DC mayor as people on the Internet had suggested. He talked about his experience litigating with DDOT over a historic tree that ended up being cut down and seemed to say he won’t do more than keep up with the local ANC.  He also told me he is not a drinker currently, but does enjoy regular Coca Cola. 

The woman in the car has been identified as Shawntia Humphries, a recreation manager for the DC Dept of Parks and Recreation. Above The Law posted this as well

 

The Big Hunt Has Terminated Its Lease. Building for Sale/Rent

The Big Hunt – one of DC’s dives

Upstairs at Big Hunt – Skee ball tables

Decor at Big Hunt

1/11/20 Update: A former staffer at the Big Hunt informed me that the owner sent an email to staff on January 6th that “they can stop holding their breath.”

The legendary dive/beer bar The Big Hunt formally terminated its lease as of October 31st, 2020, Barred in DC has learned. The news looks bleak for their future (Oct 31st was the end of their lease term but they were hoping to come to an agreement with the landlord, but instead they terminated pursuant to the terms of the lease); however, given they have not yet vacated the space perhaps there is a glimmer of hope (albeit very unlikely based on the circumstances why it has not yet been vacated). It’s more likely that The Big Hunt will be on this ongoing list of spots closed.

I’ve tried reaching out to The Big Hunt via Twitter but have not heard back since first contacting them in August. They last posted about their status on July 13th, stating “As soon as it is safe and economically viable, The Big Hunt will reopen. Please follow our social feeds to stay abreast of any developments. As soon as we know, you’ll all know!”

The two massive buildings that house The Big Hunt (and a couple apartments including one that Tony T from The Pug allegedly lived at for awhile) are for lease/sale. The buidlings, which contain nearly 10,000 square feet, can be purchased for $7.5 million or leased out at roughly $26,000/month triple net lease, a decrease of 25% or so from the original asking price. The owner of the building, Mary Gerachis, died at the age of 89 in February, and the heirs/estate are looking to sell or fill the space. (reach out to Joseph Friend at friend@friendre.com if interested).

The spot, known for its extensive beer selection, garish decor, “colorful” tiny bathrooms, downstairs comedy, cheap wing night, and a polarizing reputation, opened in 1992 by the late Joe Englert and partners. Per DCRA data, unlike many bars Englert opened, he still was listed as being involved with the company that owned The Big Hunt. Englert died in August.

Here are some virtual tours of the space, including a close look at the wild interior of  the bar
The Big Hunt (1345) 

The Big Hunt (1347) 

Indoor Dining in DC to Take a “Pause” Starting Christmas Eve

Image by Mr.TinDC licensed under Creative Commons.

This post has been updated to reflect the Mayor’s Order released (13 hours after I broke this news) around 10p Friday night as well as a press conference that was held midday Monday.

Following the lead of Baltimore, Montgomery Co, Prince Georges Co., Illinois, Pennsylvania, California, Michigan, Washington, New York City and other parts of New York, Denver, and New Mexico, among other jurisdictions, the DC government announced Friday that indoor dining will take a “pause” for around 3 weeks beginning right before Christmas Eve, reopening the morning of Friday, January 15th (MLK weekend). Barred in DC broke the news earlier this morning that this closure was imminent, and Laura Hayes (then DCist / Martin Austermuhle) reported the news later in the morning that the closure would occur COB Wed Dec 23rd.

Thus, DC will be returning to the position it was May 29  – June 21 during Phase 1 where outdoor dining was only available; however due to weather it will likely feel more close to the takeout/delivery only stance from March 17-May 28. Expect many spots that weren’t open during that time frame to temporarily shutter.

Permitted Restaurant Activities

Based on clarifications made by DC, the following types of activities will be allowed at DC restaurants/bars during Dec 24-Jan 14:

  • Takeout and Delivery
  • Uncovered outdoor seating
    • can be one or more parties of max 6 that are 6 feet apart
  • All Covered (i.e., tented, canopied) outdoor seating with 0, 1, or 2 walls/side flaps
    • can be one or more parties of max 6 that are 6 feet apart
  • Covered single-party outdoor seating that is fully enclosed (or only 1 open flap/wall)
    • Only one party of 6 can be sat at a time in this type of outdoor seating,
    • includes igloos, small tents, bubbles, partioned spaces like at Le Diplomate, and greenhouses

DC is also allowing electric heaters with extension cords and has replaced the rule that streatery/parklets be closed at 32 degrees or colder with a rule that they be closed during a snow emergency (to protect restaurant furniture and patrons from snow plowing/icing activities)

The order also “strongly advise[s]” DC residents to “limit their activities to essential activites and travel,” and closes libraries and musuems, and states that non-essential businesses must telework.

According to the order, the following facts led the Mayor to this decision:

  • Surge of COVID-19 cases that will worsen “without intervention” as a result of Christmas/NYE/NYD related activties
  • COVID-19 ICU patients more than doubled from 11/16 to 12/16
  • Case rate is nearly 8x since early July
  • “Health metrics demonstrate that a number of activtiies are contributors to DC and indeed global cases, and a substantial number of cases cannot identify the source of their infections, which is expected at certain levels of community spread.”
    • in other words, DC is saying there are some cases coming from restaurants (and libraries and musuems) and there’s a lot of cases that we can’t tell where the source is. As a result imposing these restrictions can slow the spread.
  • “A pause in activity … can help stem transmission… prevent disease, save lives and prevent a crisis at our hospitals”

The time-limited nature of the “pause” in indoor dining is not unusual in the U.S. Other places that announced a pause with an end date (That could be extended) include: New Mexico (closed outdoor/indoor dining 11/16 – 11/30), Washington state (11/16 to 12/14, now extended to 1/4), Oregon (11/18-12/2 closed outdoor/indoor dining), Pennsylvania (12/12-1/4), Anne Arundel Co (12/16-1/13, now blocked by judge). On Monday, Mayor Bowser explained that she does not expect to extend the pause, calling it a “holiday pause” and it was three weeks long because DC Health recommended that interventions like this should be at least that long.

Contrary to what many people believe, contact tracing data is not reliable for showing where spread occurs; in fact it was not even really intended to accomplish that (For more details why, I urge you read this WaPo Julie Zaumer piece from last week). So people who keep asking for DC-specific data that shows cases come from indoor dining (or dining in general), they won’t get it. That being said, the press conference Monday would be infuriating for anyone hoping DC could clarify further why indoor dining was shut down. Dr. Nesbitt from DC Health did not even appear and Bowser’s answers to questions were not helpful (see below)

In addition, going against the conventional wisdom, my (admittedly unscientific) Twitter poll shows that restaurant staff/owners actually support an indoor dining shutdown at a higher rate (77% to 65%) than those not in the restaurant industry

The shutdown comes amidst Congressional negotiations to extend unemployment benefits and restore some supplement ($300/week)along with additional PPP funding; one wonders if DC would have done this without any hope of a Federal deal.

Excerpts from Monday’s  Press Conference

Reporter:  We’re reporting on these different big box stores (Wal-mart for example), we’re seeing lots of people in these stores, social distancing is not always easy…. These stores are allowed to operate and now you are asking restaurant owners to shut down for a few weeks during the heaviest time for these restaurant owners.

Bowser: Well, I don’t know it is the heaviest time for these restaurant owners. I am asking them to do it [she notes that the big box store limit was only place one day]

….

Reporter: Restaurant/bar owners and employees have been saying or claiming that the DOH or you have not put forth any kind of scientific evidence showing indoor dining would result in a greater number of COVID  cases or infections. Has DOH or you cited any data that these people claim have not been coming forward?

Bowser: I’m not sure what you’re refering to, but pretty consistently dining has been cited …by people who have COVID as one of the sources of activity, along with other things, but dining is pretty consistently in the top 4.

Reporter: Is this from the CDC or from DC’s own cases that you cited?

Bowser: Yes. Coronavirus.dc.gov. We have a plethora of information about sources of activity. Having said that, there are other sources of activity that are essential activities including people going to their essential work, incuding people going to school, so there are a lot of sources of activity. This in no way, unless we stop everything that we are doing, that’s how we know people won’t be circulating and exposed to the virus. So we have been dialing back for several weeks, many weeks, all kinds of activity, including in restaurants where we stopped alcohol sales after certain time, and we have dialed back for a time the number of people allowed in buildings. We are very focused on, like jurisidictions around us and around the country on how to dial back even more activity. We know that this is a limited time. We are asking eveyrone to make this sacrifice so that our hospital workers won’t be overwhlemed following these holidays.

Reporter: How you landed on the January 15th date and how you will decide to extend it further?

Bowser: I don’t expect to extend the end date. So I don’t go into it with that expectation. We know and the Health Department tells us that 3 weeks is a good intervention interval and … we will start to see the impacts 3 weeks after the interventions begins…That’s why we call it a holiday pause.

….

Reporter: Why were musuems and libraries singled out, as compared to say Walmart and places like that?

Bowser: Wal-Mart is a food seller. I’m not going to be closing grocery stores…if you can’t see why we can’t do that…it seems pretty obvious.

Reporter: But I can also get a haircut, but I can’t enter a library. So why musuems and libraries?

Bowser: The libraries you can still use, but curbside

 

Despite Clamor for Shutdown, Harry’s Bar Received No Citations This Weekend

This post has been edited to include a question & answer from Mayor Bowser’s press conference.

Despite a stabbing that occured around 9p Saturday night nearby and a clamor from social media that it be shut down due to crowds of MAGAs and Proud Boys over the past several months, Harry’s Bar downtown received zero citations from ABRA (warnings, fines, or referrals to the ABC Board) over the weekend, ABRA told Barred in DC this morning.

According to the bar, they weren’t even open for dinner Friday or Saturday night. Owner John Boyle sent me an email unsolicited this morning stating:

We only opened Harry’s for lunch on Friday Dec 11 and Saturday Dec 12 from noon until 3:30 pm. We did not reopen at all in the evening. We knew that [there] would be large crowds and decided that closing before dark both nights was the best way to avoid problems and keep the staff and customers safe from Covid.

I realize that video from the street party and fights close by made it look like Harry’s was open and part of it but we were not.

A reliable source also confirmed to me that information they received indicated that Harry’s had closed by 4p on Saturday. Later today, Mayor Bowser seemed to confirm at her regular press briefing that this early closure was prompted due to discussions DC government had with the bar before the weekend. Full exchange below:

Washington Post reporter Michael Brice-Saddler: Lot of the skirmishes we saw out over the weekend took place near and around Harry’s Bar where people were also observed gathering in large crowds and flouting all the city’s masks restrictions. People were also stabbed nearby that location as you mentioned. So, is the city considering taking any action against Harry’s Bar, implementing any citations against that bar?

Mayor Bowser: Our understanding, and we’ve had investigators go out, is that Harry’s Bar was not open after 4:00 pm Friday or Saturday. This was part of our discussions with Harry’s prior to the weekend. So I don’t know if we can directly relate any of the unrest to the establishment.

Harry’s has been cited 5 times previously during Phase 2 (including multiple $1000 fines) but to the chagrin of many, they have not had their liquor license suspended as 11 other spots have been. Based on ABRA’s policy set in July and past precedent during Phase 2, this isn’t as surprising to me because they haven’t been caught serving after hours, offering live music/DJ, or playing music at higher than a conversational volume, which have been triggering the suspensions thus far.

Where to Get Hot Cocktails and Other Hot Drinks in DC

Boozy Hot Chocolates

Winter is upon us, and given that most of you will only be comfortable dining/drinking outdoors or takeout only, it may be helpful to know where the hot cocktails are located. Here’s an incomplete list, based partially on crowdsourced Twitter lists. Also consulted Washingtonian/Daniella Byck, and Eater/Tierney Plumb. Those with 3 or more options are listed below (references to cider mean boozy/mulled hot cider). Not all are to-go.  Again, this is an incomplete list. Linked sometimes to the menu but you can also Google.

Lots of Hot Drink Options

  • McClellan’s Retreat: fancy cocktails ($15) including hot toddy, rye/amaro/cider, mexcal/cacao syrup/hot, jager/butter syrup, boozy hot chocolate, rum/cardamaro/vecchio amaro/hot cider
  • Truxton Inn: fancy cocktails ($13) including hot toddy, rye/amaro/cider, mexcal/cacao syrup/hot, jager/butter syrup, boozy hot chocolate, pineapple rum/sherry/lemon/hot cider
  • Cantina Bambina/Snow Globe: Hot toddy with Don Julio Reposado Tequila, peppermint hot cocoa, carolina coffee, Irish coffee, mulled wine, cider (vodka, rum, or apple whisky
  • The Royal: $13 glass/$20 thermos: hot toddy with rum, coconut, spiced pineapple, angostura, citrus; boozy hot chocolate (bourbon, toasted peanut, dark chocolate, dried chile, orange zest, steamed milk: royal treatment (mole eggnog): mezcal, house royal mole, nutmeg, cinnamon, whole egg, steamed milk
  • Electric Cool-Aid (hibernating for winter): toddy, a cider, and hot chocolate, all with different booze combinations. Available in to-go singles or 4-serving containers.
  • Pub and the People: hot bourbon cider, bourbon spiked hot cocoa, pumkin spice spiked hot cocoa, hot toddy, penicillin hot
  • The Green Zone: 5 cocktails: Lebanese mulled win, Wadi Rum (hot toddy), Chocolate Toddy, coquito, classic hot toddy,
  • Red Bear Brewing: in person only: hot toddy, several varieties of boozy hot chocolate, cider
  • Walter’s: tequila infused chamomile tea, boozy hot chocolate, cider, horchata/kahlua
  • Columbia Room: $70 18 oz thermos (serves 3-4). Glogg, boozy hot chocolate with mezcal, Smores cocktails. Along with spirit-free
  • Hook Hall Viking Village: mulled wine, cider, hot toddy, Irish coffee (add boozy whipped cream for $2)
  • The Midlands: cider, boozy hot chocolate with peanut butter whiskey, Jameson hot toddy, Irish Coffee
  • Prost: Gluhwein (mulled wine), Apfelwein (hot cider), and Mexican hot chocolate.
  • Duke’s Grocery: Dublin coffee, Chai Toddy, Sailor toddy, Bourbon, pumpkin spice puree, nutmeg; cider
  • Calico: rum/spiced root beer syrup/lemon, Jameson cold brew;pumpkin spice/brown sugar/craeam
  • Trusty’s: Cider & 3 varieties Spiked Hot Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Butterscotch & Whipped Cream + Hot Toddy’s
  • Breadsoda: multiple hot drinks including Bailey’s and Jameson
  • Lost & Found: Hot toddy, spiked hot chocolate, cider, Irish coffee
  • The Salt Line: mulled cider, hot toddies, Irish Coffee
  • DC9: cider, mulled wine, Boozy nutella hot chocolate

Other Spots

  • The Roost: hot chocolate/chartreuse cocktail, hot mezcal apple cocktail
  • The Brig: naughty hot chocolate, cider, mulled wine
  • Red Bear: hot chocolate rumchata
  • All Purpose Navy Yard: Hot rum chai spiced cider
  • Jaleo: spiked hot chocolate and cider
  • Wundergarten: Spiked hot chocolate, cider
  • Across the Pond: Irish Coffee, hot toddies
  • Oku: hot tequila apple cider cocktail (on HH menu)
  • Sonny’s Pizza: cider, hot Penicillan cocktails
  • Lyman’s Tavern: mulled cider
  • The Board Room: mulled wine, cider, peppermint hot chocoalte
  • Medium Rare: cider (Woodford Reserve)
  • Le Diplomate: cider
  • Brookland Pint: cider
  • Brookland’s Finest: cider
  • Stable: Mulled wine, cider
  • Tyber Creek Wine Bar (hibernation next week): Mulled cider, Irish coffee, hot toddies and red wine hot chocolate
  • The Blaguard: cider
  • El Techo: infused tea
  • The Imperial: cider
  • The Game/Tiki on 18th: hot toddy w/ rotating tea
  • Tiki TNT: hot pineapple cider
  • Conrad Hotel: fancy hot toddy’s
  • Cuba Libre parklet: hot cocktails
  • Little Coco’s Hot Coco: hot cocoa (mezcal), cider
  • Garden District: peppermint schnapps hot chocolate
  • CHicken & Whiskey: cider
  • Archipelago: scotch, drambuie, mulled wine syrup
  • Astoria
  • Copycat
  • Chi Cha Lounge
  • The Betsy

 

 

$35 Million DC Restaurant Bridge Fund Application Now Live – Details Here

Today, DC made the application for the $35 million DC Restaurant Bridge Fund live. The application will close COB Monday December 28th (another week for restaurants in Wards 5, 7, and 8).  Grants of $10,000 – $50,000 will be provided to at least 700 restaurants (including fast food spots, cafes, delis, coffee shops, food trucks, cafeterias, as well as certain bars and breweries with tavern/restaurant licensees that receive at least 25% of their income from food sales) that were open before October 1st and suffered at least 25% decrease in revenue during pandemic. Spots must actually be open and operating for at least takeout/delivery now (and have a plan to remain open) to receive a grant; the at least 80+ spots that are not currently open will not be eligible. Note: Those spots who take a hiatus during the indoor dining pause are eligible if they reopen by the time pause ends on January 15th.

Funds can be used for:

  • rent/mortgage/docking expense
  • payroll
  • insurance
  • fuel for food trucks
  • utilities
  • expenses related to winterization or COVID-19 prep

Bars that don’t have 25% food revenue will be able to apply for the Entertainment Bridge Fund while breweries/distilleries with manufacturer licenses will be able to appy for Retail Bridge Fund (meaning all except Atlas-which recently changed its licenses, Right Proper Shaw, and Bluejacket are not eligible for this fund).

Funds will be issued on criteria:

  • Amount of economic distress
  • business viability
  • years/months spot has been revenue generating in current location
  • DC resident employed as of Sept 30th (furloughed/laid off don’t count)

Some other relevant restrictions:

  • If spot opened after March 17th, 2020, must show at least $25,000 in revenue
  • Max $10 million revenue for 2019 or max $7.5 million revenue in Jan-Sept 2020. Meaning Old Ebbitt Grill, The Hamilton, and probably some other spots will unlikely be eligible for the funds.
  • Franchises allowed to apply but must be independelty owned/operated.
  • Owners of more than 1 restaurant can apply for up to 5 restaurants
  • Pop-ups/seasonal restaurants with less than 12 month leases can’t apply
  • Sole proprietors that own spots (e.g. food truck) have to be DC residents
  • Bars and restaurants with club/multipurpose/nightclub licenses

A mininum 15% will be reserved for businesses owned by woman/economically disadvantaged DC residents.

Documentation that must be provided by Dec 28th include:

  • Valid basic business license
  • EIN verification
  • clean hands certificate
    • Means that business is not more than $100 in debt to DC Office of Tax and Revenue. More than $100 in debt is ok if they  are current on a payment plan
  • 2018 revenue info (if open)
  • 2019 profit/loss monthly statements (if open)
  • 2020 profit/loss monthly statements for Jan-Sept 2020 (whichever months have been open)
  • Employee numbers for Jan-March, April-June, July-Sept 2020
  • Employee roster as of Sept 30th: employee names, state of residency, full-time/part-time

The application also asks whether spot received other COVID-19 related grants and PPP loan, which implies that receiving other funds may impact amount of Bridge Fund grant.

Awards will be notified in Jan-Feb 2021 with money disbursed after that.

This info was taken from the following:

Where to Get a Last Minute Thanksgiving Meal in DC and What Is Open Later in the Day

Almost every spot is sold out but looks like there are few spots still offering Thanksgiving meals today for late changing plans:

Worst case scenario, there are severall Boston Markets in the suburbs but inside the Beltway.

In addition, if you want to get out of the house and want to have a socially distant bite/something to drink (before spots stop serving by 10p), here is a list of spots that will be open in the evening:

  • Walter’s: 11a(?)
  • Stoney’s: Noon
  • Trusty’s: 4p
  • Nanny O’Brien’s: 4p
  • Cleveland Park Bar & Grill: 4p
  • Fox and Hounds: 4p
  • Valor Brew Pub: 5p

DC Announces $100 Million Bridge Fund to Support DC Businesses

Today, Mayor Bowser’s administration announced $100 million in funding via the “Bridge Fund” (the logo is clearly inspired by the new Douglass Bridge across the Anacostia). The fund closely tracks the Business Support Grant Program passed by DC Council and signed by the Mayor in July; DC had said in August that it didn’t have sufficient funding at that point, but they’ve found funds now.

The Bridge Fund will consist of 4 programs: 1) hotels 2) restaurants 3) entertainment and 4) retail. The original program passed in summer also included $5 million for child care facilities, but that was already announced September 21st. $80 million of the funds will come from DC’s funds, while $20 million come from CARES Act funding and must be spent by end of 2020.

The Fund’s programs will provide the following (parentheses shows what was included in the program passed in summer)

  • Hotels: $30 million ($28 million)
    • Up to 140 grants of $10,000 – $270,750
    • 80% will have to goto payroll
    • Application goes live Mon. 11/23. Since $20 million of the $30 million allocated comes the CARES Act funding, funds will need to be disbursed quickly.
    • Hotels/lodges/B&Bs with 10+ rooms. Allocated strictly on number of rooms, up to 250 rooms
  • Restaurants: $35 million ($38 million, though $4 million already provided as part of streatery winter grant program)
    • Up to 700 grants of $10k-$50k
    • Application goes live Mon. 12/7
    • TBA stipulations about payroll
  • Entertainment: $20 million ($14.5 million)
    • Up to 400 grants of $4k-100k
    • Application goes live Mon 12/21
    • includes entertainment venues and event planners
  • Retail: $15 million ($14.5 million, though original program only would have supported hospitality-related retail).
    • Up to 575 grants of $5k-$25k
    • Application goes live Tues 12/15

Similar to the original program, at least 15% of the $100 million must goto businesses owned by DC residents that are people of color or women. The original program included requirements to show revenue loss in order to get funds. Unclear whether this will be part of these funds

 

Personal Note: A Truly Amazing and Awful Week –

[11/19 Update: After nearly 9 days in the hospital, all 3 of us are home after Mrs. Barred was discharged Wednesday afternoon. She had sent me and the baby home the day before so we could all get some rest. We have close family members helping out for next few weeks. Thanks again for all your messages of outrage, sympathy, and support since last Friday.]

[Edited 11/14 to add a note at bottom]
Mrs. Barred and I welcomed this baby girl pictured above in our life on Tuesday, in what is likely quite a development to you. Lil’ Miss Barred (Iris) is awesome and beautiful and we’re so happy for her to be part of this world.  I had, of course, in my mind planned some “hilarious” and “clever” introduction to the world on Twitter, and the fact that I was honored to be featured in the City Paper the same week was a stunning coincidence that really would made this a banner week. But instead of being home as scheduled Friday or Saturday,  we are sleeping in separate rooms in the hospital from the baby and who knows when we will be there after Mrs. Barred had a second surgery on top of a painful and infuriating experience.

Mrs. Barred’s lifelong health issues (mixed connective tissue syndrome, an autoimmune disorder without a name), which has resulted in frequent (including several life threatening) hospitalizations at GW since she moved to DC back in mid 2000s-resulted in one doctor saying that she couldn’t get pregnant and others saying she shouldn’t give birth. So her doing so, and keeping our baby healthy in a global pandemic is one reason why she’s my superhero.

For all of her history at GW, she thought going here for delivery (not a common choice for most people we know in DC for births) would make any complications go more smoothly or even avoided if possible. That has not happened. After the c-section, her complaints about excruciating pain were not taken seriously by anyone, even as she repeatedly said “Help Me!” for 5 hours, as they gave her only typical pain meds but refused to call her pain management doctor or just as easily review her chart to see her history tolerating pain meds without issue. Finally when we moved into our overnight room, a special pain management team agreed and quelled her concerns, saying they’d approve specific additional relief. But 5 hours later nothing had happened until we finally asked the nurse and attending docs about it. There was an outright refusal to implement it at first and reluctance turned into incompetence to put in the relief. At least a few of the medical professionals were openly skeptical in front of her that she could be in that amount of pain. In the end it took about 11 hours for her to get any relief to even be able to touch her baby after she gave birth.

Finally on Wednesday, her pain was closer to what would be expected the day after a c section and we spent a lovely day with the baby, seemingly back on track. But she noted to a nurse that her stomach was distended more than it was the day before. The nurse flippantly responded “I didn’t see you yesterday, so I wouldn’t know.” Later that night she started feeling some shoulder pain but chalked it up to how she was sleeping. But at 4a Wednesday morning, she woke up feeling it more acutely as well as some chest pain. Because of her pulmonary embolism history (which they did pay attention to because of relevance to surgery), within 15 minutes maybe 10 nurses and doctors were in the room to assess what was going on. I was ushered out to the hallway with Lil’ Miss Barred. Soon they noticed the distended belly and used ultrasound on her torso to discover there was internal bleeding and the decision was made to operate. But even in that discussion the resident misstated her medical history and missed other details clearly on her chart. Mrs. Barred stopped them and had to present her medical self and history to the team in a dire situation because this was life and death. She then told a room of White doctors and nurses “I know It’s not an exaggeration – the statistics are clear about Black mothers. I don’t want to be in the news about another Black mother in DC who never came home with their child. Please don’t let me die.” They assured her that it wouldn’t happen. As she was rolled out of the room and past me and Iris in the hall, we both told each other she loved me and she told me “to take care of my baby.” The whole situation was shattering (I can’t but weep each time I think about it) as we truly didn’t know whether we’d see each other again.

Thankfully she returned a couple hours later (in the meantime while I waiting I saw my profile in the City Paper People Issue, which couldn’t be the biggest dichotomy ever-a massive high and a massive low-that’s what I used as a Twitter distraction for the day.)  They sent Lil’ Miss Barred to the nursery since I had a tough time emotionally then and it was necessary to keep Jo and her rested while the medical team took more look at her. Once again the pain management orders were unnecessarily delayed and she suffered in more pain.

There was discussion of moving her to the ICU since post partum medical team weren’t really suited for task but they figured out it was better to put her in the larger labor and delivery rooms (where mothers usually give birth naturally) which  have a better nurse coverage. At this point her pain has improved somewhat but she also has breathing issues (possible pneumonia from surgery/anesthesia), possible blood clots, and her blood measurements are still not out of the woods. She has continued to advocate for herself forcefully-she repeatedly is told here thats she’s such a strong woman, but she doesn’t want to have to be a strong woman, she wants medical science to do that job. Instead of a loving few days in the hospital, it’s been pretty traumatic.

The seeming inability for nurses and medical staff to initially believe her has been such a disappointment to say the least. It’s hard to believe there isn’t unconscious/implicit bias at work here against Black and/or younger looking patients like her – https://www.aamc.org/news-insights/how-we-fail-black-patients-pain. Magically when she was able to speak and use medical terminology, or mention her academic or work background, everyone then actually seems to believe her. This isn’t new-this has happened to her for her life, but it’s been especially tragic here.

But I end we are all hopeful that things will be cleared up in due time and we will all get to go home together as a family soon. We were able to spend 4 hours with us today in the suite which helped our mood though is still mostly in nursery. Please keep us (particularly Mrs. Barred, Jo) in your thoughts/prayers/good vibes.

[edited to add 11/14: We’re grateful for the heartening response we’ve received from real life and Internet friends and family,  as well as stories I’ve gotten from other women (not just people of color) who’ve had similar harrowing stories of pain relief neglect or childbirth. Just a few things to add: this post was really based on what Mrs. Barred said to 5 or 6 doctors, nurses and a social worker Thursday and Friday. I had planned to post something when we were discharged but she told me that it made most sense to post now. Because of those conversations she had, (and my backup as needed) her standard of care currently appears (fingers crossed) to be closer to what he had wished and expected-her needs are being seemingly addressed and there is a clear shared desire to get her out of here healthy and discharged with the baby and me. There still were a couple doctors yesterday who didn’t get that pain is manifested quite differently by people who suffer chronic pain than others, but they were schooled quickly by us. She still is on some oxygen and has an upsetting number of tubes sticking out of her (a IV tower alongside each side of bed), but again in stable, slowly improving condition. She’s aware of the patient advocate (she asked for her at one point; she’s used it many times before when needed) and the GW patient bill of rights (Mrs Barred actually helped write them a decade or so ago and had to say “this is my right” multiple times this week to get them to do something they should have done anyway ).

This account is our perspective and perception of what has occurred. The medical staff, sometimes in the moment, but usually after the fact, have provided mostly unsatisfactory-in-the-end rationales and explanations about why they did what they did (often pointing to concerns about respiration). But this does not change the fact that there was seemingly little to address her concerns at the time and significantly, little to acknowledge/use her extensive pain management and medical history at GW to address these issues. Coordination of care was seemingly lackluster in execution, which resulted in miscommunication to both us and other members of the team and unnecessary delays. We’re both hoping the team here takes long term lessons that can make sure this doesn’t happen again. And to be clear there have been a few docs and nurses who have been incredible and we will never forget their kindness in their actions and words.]

 

[11/15 Update: Yesterday an anesthesiologist came by our room and said to her “You probably don’t remember me, but I was the anesthesiologist down in the operating room at 5:25a on Thursday. And I just wanted to say how impressed how calm you were in what must have been a scary situation. You’ll be such a great mother how you advocated for yourself.” My wife told me that she had looked around at every person in the operating room and said calmly “Please don’t kill another Black mother. I want to go home with my baby.”]

The Big Stick Reopens Today After More Than Seven Months of Closure. Why Are Many Not Happy?

The Big Stick (Oct 2017 photo)

[Author’s Note: One of the owners of The Big Stick reached out and we had a 15 minute conversation Wednesday addressing some factual issues in this article. I had drafted a summary of that conversation that I was going to add to the end and sent it to them to make sure it was accurate and didn’t reveal off-the-record info (the latter at their request). After review, they decided they no longer wanted to make a statement, though they once again indicated that this article contained false information re the bar. Since the first conversation was still on the record, I decided that, instead of adding the two paragraphs, to revise/edit throughout to incorporate information from the on-the record conversation. ] 

The Big Stick, the low(ish)-key Navy Yard neighborhood favorite since it opened in December 2014, reopens for business Tuesday, November 3rd. The spot has been closed for all service, even takeout, since March 15th, with near radio silence on social media since. However, instead of joy, the news has met with anger in my DMs and on social media from several staff members and regulars.

I tried to get some clarity about what is going on. This is based on discussions with some of of The Big Stick’s staff as well as statements made by The Big Stick (including an on-record conversation with one of the owners):

  • Few of the front of house staffers were rehired for reopening. There are only a handful of tables at the reopened Big Stick
  • There are approximately 7-8 staffers on the payroll now. There is a new GM, but many (the Big Stick says the “majority”) of the staff working now came from the pre-pandemic staff. Note this does not mean that a majority of the previous staff was re-hired.
  • All the staffers who weren’t hired for reopening learned of the reopening the same way the public did, from the social media post on Monday. One of the owners told me that they had been focusing on communicating with those they were able to bring back.
  • The staff were informed in early June that The Big Stick applied for and received a CARES Act Small Business Administration (SBA) Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan and they would be reopening soon, but have not heard anything since. One of the owners said they are in compliance with the PPP requirements.
  • The impression the staffers had gotten when the announcement was made was that they all had been replaced by the new GM. One of the owners denies this was the case.
  • The Big Stick’s former bar manager was asked by The Big Stick  management/ownership to help prepare the bar for re-opening by helping purchase liquor and supplies. There is an allegation from at least one former staffer that essentially this was a bait and switch-that he was induced to leave one job to help them when they in fact did not hire him to be bar manager for reopening. From ownership’s perspective, they emphatically deny they “blindsinded” him into quitting his new job to come back. They understood that he already had another job and thought there were no hard feelings.

Here are some more details to flesh this out:

The Big Stick indeed, according to SBA data, received a PPP loan of somewhere between $150,000-$350,000. The loan was approved on May 12th, and according to SBA data (which has reportedly had some accuracy issues), the bar noted that it had 28 employees before the pandemic.

On June 5th, one of the owners sent an email to the “Big Stick Team” that read in part (bold is mine):

We wanted to provide a positive update that we have applied for and received a [SBA PPP loan] that will help us re-open.

The current plan is to re-open over the next month or so, with a special focus on outdoor sales …The initial operation will be smaller but we will hopefully expand operations to where they were before COVID-19 as soon as it is possible to so, both financially and according to the DC regulations.,,,

We will keep you all posted on a weekly or bi-weekly basis as we progress towards a re-opning, or sooner if there is major news. To ensure that we are all prepared, please reply to or directly call any of the ownership/management team if you have any questions or to indicate your availability to work as we re-open.

….

On Monday, following the announcement of reopening a staff member posted this on a neighborhood Facebook group

…I want you to all know that you won’t be seeing any of the faces behind the bar that you’re used to. The owners decided that bringing back the legacy bar staff wasn’t a good idea after hiring a new GM. Despite emailing the staff months ago telling us they were opening soon and leading us to believe we’d be working there again soon; and going so far as to have [the former bar manager] help set everything  … up for the current “Grand Re-Opening” they decided a new GM and a new staff was better for them.

Do with this inormation what you will, but know that many of us still don’t have jobs because we were waiting for our owners/management to bring us back with the PPP loan they received.

Soon after this was posted to Facebook, the bar finally sent an email to their staff:

As many of you have seen on social media, we are opening the big stick tomorrow with limited operations and staff. We sincerely apologize for not communicating to everyone earlier. We should have done a better job of keeping everyone informed. …

We will reach out to folks if the business can support more positions or please feel free to stop by when we are open to talk to us.

Alternatively, please keep in mind there is a real possibility that we are forced to close our doors again in a month or two (or less) depending on the ongoing public health situation. One thing we wanted to avoid was hiring and then having to cut a bunch of staff which would impact folks’ income / access to unemployment benefits.

Again, we regret not informing you all earlier. ….

Another staffer told me:

…Them posting on social media that they’re reopening is the only communication I have heard from them in months. This is apparently how I am finding out that I do not have a job anymore….

Tuesday morning, The BIg Stick posted this statement on social media channels:

We are excited to reopen The BIg Stick today. The last 7 months have been extremely challenging and we’ve been navigating the process as best as we can. We want to reopen to serve our neighborhood which we have loved being a part of for the last 5 years. While the majority of our team includes our former staff, we are unfortunatey unable to bring back our full team given capacity restrictions and slower consumer traffic in the neighborhood We hope to bring back more staff down the road and we understand some disappointment that we’re unable to do so at this time. With so many places closing their doors for good, it’s our goal to endure and get through this to serve our community welll into the future. For now, we’ve excited to open our doors and welcome our customers once again.

Here’s the upshot of everything from my perspective: The lack of communication with the staff, after giving them an impression in June that they could be rehired soon, was devastating to the staffers who saw that social media post yesterday, and their apology was certainly warranted. I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all for The Big Stick to only have a skeleton staff, particularly during the winter, but the fact that they took a PPP loan unfortunately gave the staff the impression that would help them get their jobs back. The allegation about the former bar manager being blindsided seems to be more murky and lack a lot of details.

It should be noted, PPP loans could be used for payroll, benefits, mortgage, rent, utility, and some other interest payments. To obtain full loan foregiveness, the business must use at least 60% of it for payroll costs in either an 2 or 6 month period. Otherwise, the loan carries a 1% interest rate though payments are deferred for 10 months after the end of  the period. There’s no requirement to rehire the same workers. As noted, the owner I spoke to believes they are in full compliance with PPP requireemnts.