Starting tonight, celebrity chef Ed Lee is repurposing his cavernous Southern restaurant in Penn Quarter as a relief center for restaurant workers who are taking a financial hit while much of the city shuts down to halt the spread of the new coronavirus.
Succotash will provide free, to-go dinners to anyone who has been laid off or experienced a big reduction in hours or pay while the city enforces a no dine-in rule. The restaurant will also have home essentials like toilet paper, diapers, and fresh produce.
Hospitality workers can pick up boxed meals at 915 F Street NW between 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Each day’s dish will be shared on social media. The first night brings blackened catfish with broccolini and cheesy grits.
Dinners are offered on a first-come, first serve basis, with about 250 meals available (limit two per person, unless there is an emergency situation).
Other supplies on hand include baby food, canned food, cereal, paper towels, notebooks, pencils, and aspirin.
Over in Park View, 13,000-square-foot events space Hook Hall (3400 Georgia Avenue NW) is distributing meals and care packages to those facing reduced or revoked schedules and inconsistent pay. Around Penn Quarter, José Andrés has turned his restaurants into “community kitchens” selling takeout meals in the $6 to $12 range and giving away food for people who can’t afford that.
Layoffs are already sweeping through the hospitality world. DCist reports that homegrown roaster Compass Coffee laid off 80-percent of its staff this week, and EatWell DC (Commissary, Grillfish, the Pig, Logan Tavern, and The Charles) laid off 160 employees.
Lee, who has written a couple books and was featured in Mind of a Chef on PBS, already turned Louisville, Kentucky, restaurant 610 Magnolia into a relief center this week. Like the District, Kentucky has also banned sit-down dining.
The chef’s nonprofit, the Lee Initiative, is partnering with Succotash parent group KNEAD Hospitality + Design, Kentucky distiller Maker’s Mark, and wholesaler Adams-Burch to run the relief program throughout the shutdown period, or until funding runs dry.
Everyone who shows up for food at Succotash must show proper ID and paperwork (like a paystub) to prove recent employment at a restaurant. A social distancing system will be in place to welcome guests in and out the door. Anyone who can offer supplies can contact Christina Perdomo (firstname.lastname@example.org), or donate funds online.
- A Massive D.C. Beer Hall Is Acting as a Relief Center That Feeds Restaurant Workers [EDC]
- Coronavirus Is Causing Industry-Wide Layoffs In D.C., Hitting Service Workers Particularly Hard [DCist]
- D.C. Dining Rooms Are Officially Off Limits [EDC]