WTOP: More D.C. restaurants closed last year than closed in 2021, as new struggles have eclipsed COVID-19 pandemic challenges.
In 2022, at least 48 notable restaurant closures were announced, compared to 40 in 2021, according to the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington — and problems that persist in the New Year could lead to more closings in 2023.
“You’ve got supply chain issues, you’ve got workforce shortages, the increase in food and increase in rent and utility costs, and inflation. The snowball effects of these challenges, unfortunately, may create a hill too steep to climb for eateries that are operating on razor-thin margins,” said Shawn Townsend, RAMW’s newly-elected president.
The list of high-profile restaurant closures in D.C. throughout 2022 includes Bad Saint, The Berliner, Mintwood Place, Grillfish, The Pig, Columbia Room and Thamee.
In addition to the economic challenges Townsend cites, many restaurants that had still been operating under pandemic relief funds saw that money run out last year. Ongoing remote work has also kept otherwise dependable lunch crowds lean for many.
RAMW’s Winter Restaurant Week runs through Jan. 22, and is an opportunity for the 270 restaurants participating to win back patrons and attract new ones, enticing them with inexpensive prix-fixe menus.
Participating restaurants are offering multi-course brunch and lunch menus for $25 per person, and multi-course dinner menus for $40 or $55 per person for on-premises dining. Many are also offering to-go dinner meals and cocktail pairings.
But isn’t Restaurant Week mostly just for serious foodies?
“Absolutely not,” Townsend said. “Restaurant Week is for everyone. Bring La-de-dah-dee, and everyone. It’s a great time out. ‘Get out of your culinary comfort zone,’ is what I like to tell people, and just explore … we have a lot of diverse cuisines throughout the region.”
Townsend officially became RAMW’s president and CEO this month, replacing Kathy Hollinger, who led the organization for a decade. Hollinger now serves as CEO of the Greater Washington Partnership.
Townsend was previously director of the Mayor’s Office of Nightlife and Culture in the District.