It’s been a rough year for restaurants and music venues like The Hamilton.
“We shut down on Thursday, March 12,” Clyde’s Restaurant Group Area Director of Operations David Moran told WTOP. “We had Dweezil Zappa scheduled to perform a show that had been sold out. … It became pretty obvious pretty quickly soon thereafter that 2020 was going to be pretty much wiped out. The room has been shuttered since.”
This weekend, the downstairs music room reopens as part of a D.C. pilot program.
“We’ve had the ability to have some tables outside on the sidewalk, [but] we’re starting to get concerned about our ability to have revenue in that restaurant,” Moran said. “So, we looked at downstairs [and] we thought, ‘How can we possibly reactivate this room?’ … We came up with this idea of dinner and a movie concert.”
Every Friday and Saturday, the venue will host screenings of music-themed films.
The series kicks off Friday with Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.”
“It’s one of the first ones I saw as a young teenager,” Moran said. “I remember the impact it had on me with the graphics and the music. … It was so visually cool, and it’s so well produced from a sound point of view that it just made it seem like a no brainer and the right way to go. We’re looking forward to that being a real good kickoff.”
Saturday brings the Rolling Stones documentary “Shine a Light.”
“I love, obviously, the [Martin] Scorsese touch on it,” Moran said. “I also think it shows these guys at a later state in their career where they may not be as crazy as they once were, but they’re the Rolling Stones. There’s a reason they’ve been called the greatest rock and roll band in the world.”
Friday, Oct. 16 brings Prince’s iconic “Purple Rain.”
“Everybody loves Prince,” Moran said. “I remember seeing ‘Purple Rain’ the first time. I think I was a young kid seeing videos on MTV, and I remember the first time I sat down and watched the entire thing. It’s such a great moving plot, too, a story about him, then you literally have some of the iconic music behind him.”
Saturday, Oct. 17 brings the Oscar-winning Amy Winehouse documentary “Amy.”
“I wasn’t as much of a fan a couple years back, and I’ve listened to so much of her music unfortunately since her passing,” Moran said. “I also thought it was pretty important … to have a female performer. I wanted to highlight someone relevant.”
The pilot program technically runs through the end of October, but The Hamilton shared with WTOP that it’s planning “The Last Waltz” for November.
“One of our most popular concerts is [we] bring in about 30 different artists to play all the roles in ‘The Last Waltz,'” Moran said. “We know we won’t be able to present that this November. We are [instead] going to show ‘The Last Waltz’ Scorsese movie on that first weekend [in] November. We serve a turkey dinner to everyone.”
Admission is free, but there is a $100 food and drink minimum per table. Each table sits four to six people. There are only 17 tables, with reduced capacity from 700 to 92 to ensure social distancing. Moran called it “the moat” between the tables and the stage.
“When you walk into that big, 10,000-square-foot room and see more than half of the tables removed, you get a sense very quickly that you’re in a different, safe environment,” Moran said. “I believe there’s an audience who wants to hear live music and is willing to join us for those kind of intimate performances.”