Businesses in Inauguration zone weigh benefits of opening

WASHINGTON — For some businesses within the “red zone” on Inauguration Day it will be far from business as usual. Traffic will be restricted in the area, which means getting in and out of their shops and restaurants will be difficult.

“We’re fully prepared to be as busy as possible,” said David Morris with Bobby Van’s Steak House on 15th Street Northwest near the White House.

Morris believes 70 percent of the restaurant’s businesses will be walk-ins from the many people in the area during the swearing in and inaugural parade. Morris said they have put in extra orders of alcohol and foods to be delivered before the area is restricted to traffic.

The question for most businesses is, are the profits of opening worth the cost and time of getting to their stores and restaurants.

For Pleasant Pops on 15th Street Northwest, Sha Frye said the decision has been made to close the shop on Friday.

“It’s going to be hard to get to bus routes for employees and customers, as well,” Frye said.

Frye’s hope is that a lot of people will be around the day before and after the inauguration, days on which they plan to be open.

Next door at Old Ebbitt Grill, opening up will be tricky on Inauguration Day because their front entrance will be closed due to the inaugural parade.

“We’ve advised our staff about the road closures, about the check points and about leaving for work two hours earlier than normal,” said Dan Harding, general manager of Old Ebbitt Grill.

He said there is some uncertainty when it comes to crowds on Friday, but on the Thursday before and the Saturday after, he expects to see a 50 percent spike in businesses.

For many businesses, they understand and expect the hassle of getting in and opening up during an inauguration every four years but there are benefits of being so close to history in the making.

“It’s a real thrill. Regardless of who you are rooting for, it’s pretty cool to see the president drive right by the front door of the restaurant,” Harding said.

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Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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