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Soul Food Restaurant Anticipated Inauguration Windfall, Hobbled by Capitol Shutdown

The Jan. 6 deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol building committed by supporters of Donald Trump to protest Congress’ counting of Electoral College votes that certified president-elect winner Joe Biden resulted in the government shutdown of key areas of the District of Columbia.

The National Guard – 25,000 strong – secured the Capitol and that act meant businesses, jobs and overall activity was temporarily closed.

The shutdown has affected many small businesses that make livings during big Washington events such as presidential Inaugurations, including Wednesday’s celebration.

David Roundtree, owner of District Soul Food located on Eighth Street SE, said he was already coping with missed opportunities and events that would have happened before the Capitol-area shutdown. They included pre-inauguration parties, catering events and other parties that would happen for the whole week.

“We already came up with solutions to keep the business afloat when the COVID-19 pandemic hit,” said Roundtree. “With losing business and money to now dealing with the shutdown, it forces us to close the restaurant this entire week, losing around $70,000 to $80,000.”

He is among the District merchants who are missing what should have been a bonanza for Inauguration Day. Instead of the $30 million in additional revenue that typically flows to local businesses with the change of power and $3 million in tax revenues for the city, D.C. is locked down, its streets controlled by an armed force, its monuments ringed by fences and razor wire.

According to tourists and local patron’s reviews, they praised <a href=”https://www.opentable.com/r/district-soul-food-and-lounge-washington” target=”blank”>District Soul specialties</a> such as crab fries, sweet potato hush puppies and fried catfish.

D.C. native Tammy Richards, who lives 10-minute walking distance from the Capitol, said her life was interrupted by the domestic terror attack and shutdown chaos that transpired in Washington. Richards said she sent her teenage son to live with some close friends to ensure his safety during the tumultuous time in Washington.

Richards was traumatized too. “When I’m in the house, it is where I feel most secure,” said Richards. “I don’t hang around outside of where I live anymore.”

Her daughter, Alex Richards who lives with her parents and works in D.C., called her experiences “heightened awareness” and that she has become accustomed to do her normal daily activities, from going to the grocery store to going to the gym.

“Not only do I fear for what is to come tomorrow,” she said, “but I fear what the future holds after tomorrow.”

The not knowing what the outcome will be after the inauguration amplifies fear across the city, from business owners to the locals that live in the District.

The writer is a student at the Morgan State University School of Global Journalism and Communication.

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