D.C. flocks to bars seeking shelter from Sandy

The Red Derby drew a big crowd for half-priced burger night despite blistering winds and rain. (WTOP/Alicia Lozano)

Alicia Lozano, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – While some people took cover at home during Monday’s superstorm, others hunkered down at local bars to take advantage of a day off work.

At the Red Derby in Columbia Heights, half-priced burger night drew an especially rowdy crowd.

“We’re carving pumpkins!” exclaimed one happy customer. “Taking a shot sounds about right.”

Just a few blocks away on 11th Street, Meridian Pint was busy serving up specialty brews.

“In preparation for the hurricane, we’ve put on a bunch of new drafts,” the bar wrote on its Facebook page, followed by a list of seven beers.

Throughout the region, similar establishments offered specials and coerced customers to ditch their dark homes in favor of weekend-style drinking.

“We’re open no matter what,” said the Red Derby’s Charles Smeed. “Storms, snow – people know they can count on us.”

So while larger restaurants and grocery stores shuttered their doors, brave locals contributed to what turned out to be a lucrative day for area watering holes.

“I was expecting to be busy early in the day and then I figured as the hurricane progressed and got worse, people would not want to be out,” said DC Reynolds owner Jeremy Gifford. “And that was not the case.”

Social media played a big role in attracting thirsty clients, Gifford said. As people found bars that were open, they tweeted and updated their Facebook statuses with locations. DC Reynolds, which can seat about 40 people, had a full house with about 150 people throughout the day.

“We were as busy as we normally are on a Friday,” Gifford said. “We expect to be packed today as well.”

During the derecho, DC Reynolds suffered an economic blow when the roof was ripped off the patio, one of the bar’s main attractions. This time around there was no structural damage, allowing it to stay open and even extend its happy hour.

Gifford plans to keep the bar running rain or shine, and advises customers to keep an eye on social media next time something big happens in the region. Staying at home isn’t the only way to weather a storm.

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(Copryright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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