Some DC restaurants happy to resume indoor dining, even with capacity restrictions

Managing Partner of Ben’s Next Door, Welton Eric Logan said not having indoor dining made for some of the toughest weeks for the restaurant.

“Especially considering that it’s a time of year when we’re usually busy. Honestly eight more weeks like that and I don’t think there would be too many restaurants left,” Logan said.

Logan said D.C.’s COVID-19 restrictions have caused the restaurant to lay people off.

“We did have to lay folks off, not fun for any business owner, but it stings even more for a family business and it stings in a different way when your staff is majority made up of brown and black people.”

The restaurant used funds from D.C.’s winterization grants to remain open during the pandemic, but those have been depleted.

He also credited the community with helping the restaurant survive.

“We have to be especially grateful for the community that does its best to try to support us as able, even in the cold.”

He said spaces like Ben’s Chili Bowl and Ben’s Next Door are second homes to many people.

Despite how tough restrictions have been on the restaurant business, Logan said he supports Mayor Bowser’s past and current actions put into place.

“Expecting consistency on legislation with COVID or other local public safety threats is just unrealistic. Owners and entrepreneurs in general are used to being in leadership roles. The tough decisions get criticized either way, so I don’t think too many folks are ready to start throwing stones.”

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