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Gaithersburg Restaurant Owner Chooses to Close Rather Than Obey Mask Laws

Plus, Shaw gets a new Vietnamese restaurant

The Grille at Flower Hill has drawn criticism on social media for a post saying it would refuse to put employees in masks.
The Grille at Flower Hill is closed indefinitely
The Grille at Flower Hill [official]

Facing a warning from the Montgomery County health department to shut down his Maryland barbecue restaurant if workers continued to flout government orders to wear cloth face masks, the owner of the Grille at Flower Hill in Gaithersburg has decided to shut the place down rather than follow the law.

Bethesda Beat reports that the owner has indefinitely closed the Grille at Flower Hill and is attempting to sell the business. The owner has declined to identify himself to multiple media outlets, saying that he’s received more than 30 death threats after publishing a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page that said his employees wouldn’t wear masks, and customers should go somewhere else if they don’t like it. The restaurant owner says his employees don’t want to wear masks and that he held a (debunked) concern that masks would deprive his workers of oxygen and lead them to pass out in the kitchen. He also cited a bogus statement from President Donald Trump claiming that 99 percent of COVID-19 cases are “totally harmless.”

“Who am I to not agree with the president of the United States? He has access to the greatest scientists in the world,” the owner tells Bethesda Beat. Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich tells Bethesda Beat that 96 percent of the restaurants visited by the health department have complied with mandates for workers to wear masks. In D.C. and Northern Virginia, restaurant workers have been assaulted by guests upset they were asked to wear masks while ordering.

In other news ...

  • Washington City Paper reports the first floor of the former Dino’s Grotto space in Shaw is now a Vietnamese restaurant serving a limited opening menu with barbecue pork and a vegan pho. [WCP]
  • Washingtonian writes that trendy pasta place and wine bar Reveler’s Hour has converted part of its space into a retail wine shop with to-go sandwiches. [W]
  • The Washington Post has details on a slew of new initiatives at Burmese restaurant Thamee. The lauded restaurant will start charging a 30 percent fee on checks that will cover a livable wage with health insurance and professional development for employees; distribute a “Black Farm Bag” CSA curated by nonprofit Dreaming Out Loud; stocking an online market with pantry items from Black and brown producers; and selling meal kits from chef Jocelyn Law-Yone in the form of “Burma Boxes.” [WaPo]
  • Tortilla Coast, the long-running Tex-Mex spot frequented by Capitol Hill interns that doubles as a political fundraising site, may be closing July 19. Trump campaign flack Ken Farnaso tweets he confirmed the closure with employees, and the news was included in an Axios newsletter. Blogger Barred in DC says the closing isn’t official just yet.
  • Thai & Pho Bistro in Dupont Circle is closing at the end of the month, Popville reports. [P]
  • Adams Morgan is ending its experiment using 18th Street NW as a pedestrian and restaurant zone that’s closed down to traffic. [DCist]
  • Northern Virginia Magazine reports the former owner of Tysons Biergarten is three or four months away from opening a similar outdoor drinking spot as a pop-up, called Shipgarten, in McLean. A Herndon Biergarten is in the works for next year. [NVM]