Simone Jacobson and Derek Brown, two DC restaurateurs, wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post, asking landlords to help businesses with paying their rents during the COVID-19 crisis. It was also signed by dozens of independent restaurant owners across the District, including José Andrés.
Jacobson is a co-owner of Thamee, a Burmese restaurant in Northeast DC and Brown owns Columbia Room, a cocktail bar in Northwest DC.
Titled “Dear landlords: Without your help, DC’s restaurants and bars will close forever,” the open letter explained that some landlords were understanding and offered them relief by reducing or canceling their rents, after restaurants were closed by the mayor’s order in mid-March due to the pandemic. However, it added, some landlords still expected them to pay their rent.
“Many of us are surviving on a sliver of our previous sales, if we have any sales at all. If, and when, we do reopen, we will be facing a loss of consumer confidence and enforced spacing restrictions because of social distancing measures,” the letter said.
“If we do not receive some rent relief soon, landlords’ alternatives won’t be other tenants paying boom-time rents: It may well be no restaurant and bar tenants at all. Nobody wins if D.C. storefronts are left empty and our once passionate and thrilling bar and restaurant scene is no more.”
The restaurant owners asked landlords to act like partners of commercial tenants by launching a shared rent program for independent bars and restaurants based not on fixed amounts and eliminating “kick-out clauses.”
The other signatories of the letter are as follows:
Adam Greenberg and Emily Cipes; Coconut Club; Al Goldberg; Mess Hall, Amy Brandwein; Centrolina and Piccolina; Andy Shallal, Busboys and Poets; Anwar Saleem, H St Main Street; Ariel Pasternak, Pineapple Collaborative; Ashish Alfred, Duck Duck Goose; Bobby Pradachith and Seng Luangrath, Padaek, Thip Khao, Sen Khao and Hanumanh; Brent Kroll, Maxwell Park; Cameron Raspet, Red Bear Brewing; Chad Drummond, Please Bring Chips; Chipp Sandground, Central Michel Richard; Constantine Stavropoulos, the Tryst Trading Company; Daniella Senior, Colada Shop, Serenata, Zumo; Dante Datta, Daru; Dave Wiseman, Nick Wiseman and Ronen Tenne, Little Sesame; Dina Daniel, Fava Pot; Donna Henry, Soup Up LLC; Gabriela Febres and Ali Arellano, Arepa Zone; Greg Algie and Nathan Beauchamp, Blagden Hospitality Group; Jamie Leeds, Hank’s Oyster Bar; Jill Tyler, William Jensen, and Jon Sybert, Tail Up Goat & Reveler’s Hour; José Andrés and Rob Wilder, ThinkFoodGroup; Josh Phillips, Espita; Josh Saltzman, Ivy & Coney; Katsuya Fukushima, Yama Jewayni, Daisuke Utagawa, Daikaya Group; Kaz Okochi, KAZ Sushi Bistro; Kevin Tien, Emilie’s and Hot Lola’s; Khalid Pitts and Diane Gross, Cork Wine Bar & Market; Kim Bryden, Cureate and Cureate Connect; Latino Economic Development Center; Mandy and Joe Neuman, Sloppy Mama’s BBQ; Marla Bilonick, Latino Economic Development Center; Matt and Lindsay Baker, Gravitas; Michael Babin, Neighborhood Restaurant Group; Mike Lenard, TaKorean; Nizam Ali, Ben’s Chili Bowl, Ben’s Next Door; Paolo Sacco, Massimo Fabbri, and Fabio Trabocchi Group; Patrice Cleary, Purple Patch; The Popals, Lapis, Lapop, The Berliner, and Café Bonaparte / Lutèce; Rachel Fitz, ANXO; Rahul Vinod and Sahil Rahman, RASA; Raj Aggarwal, Think Local First; Rock Harper, RockSolid Creative Food Group, LLC; Rose Previte, Maydan, Compass Rose; Saied Azali, Perry’s; Sebastian Zutant, Primrose; Shannan Troncoso, Brookland’s Finest Bar & Kitchen; Eric Wang, Thamee; Sofia Grace, Soussi Restaurant; Soophia Hussain, Cusbah; Tara Smith and Demetri Mechelis, Martha Dear; Toyin Alli, Puddin’ LLC; Victoria Lai, Ice Cream Jubilee; Violeta Edelman and Robb Duncan, Dolcezza Gelato.