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'Lifeblood of our community': Metro Washington Restaurant Week kicks off Monday

WJLA – Washington D.C. logo WJLA – Washington D.C. 1/25/2021 Elliot Henney (ABC7)
'Lifeblood of our community': Metro Washington Restaurant Week kicks off Monday
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Between COVID-19 and unprecedented lockdowns on the nation's capital during the inauguration, area restaurateurs are hoping to get a boost when Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week kicks off Monday.  

As if the pandemic wasn't bad enough, the security procedures that went into place following the pro-Trump riot on January 6 meant restaurants were dealt another blow, losing the steady stream of customers that is typical during an inauguration.  

"We would've been very busy," says Barry Gutin, Principle and Co-owner of Cuba Libre in Downtown DC.  "Wednesday and the whole week would have been like Saturday night except for COVID and the riots and the amazing security that was put into place."  

And as the region enters the depths of the winter months, it's even more important for the community to help support their local eateries.  

Restaurants in DC reopened at 25% capacity Friday after an almost month-like closure that started in December, ordered by Mayor Muriel Bowser to help curb the spread of COVID-19.  

Across the river in Northern Virginia, restaurants have been allowed to remain open for indoor dining, but with tight restrictions implemented by Governor Northam, things are tough for restaurant owners.  

a store front at night © Provided by WJLA – Washington D.C.

"The Governor pushed back closing to 10 p.m. which is very hard for us," says Freddie Lutz, owner of Freddie's Beach Bar & Restaurant in Arlington. "Our main moneymaker is between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m." 

Establishments like Freddie's and others in the Pentagon City and Crystal City area have received a much-needed boost from the National Landing Business Improvement District.  The BID has paid for all costs associated with participating in Metro Washington Restaurant Week.  

This means that establishments that would have otherwise opted not to participate, or are too cash-starved to participate, have been given a much-needed boost.  

We think this is a small step in helping to ensure our restaurants can survive, thrive, get back on their feet, and really hopefully leverage the community to get out to support and eat local," said Tracy Gabriel, President of the National Landing BID.

You can see Elliot Henney's full interview with Tracy Gabriel about how the National Landing BID is helping local restaurants below.  

Caption: Elliot Henney speaks with National Landing BID President Tracy Gabriel.{{ }}{{ }}

For consumers, this means more options and an opportunity to sample more cuisines that would have otherwise not been available.  

The is the first time Freddie's Beach Bar in Crystal City has participated in Restaurant Week.  The restaurant is unlike any other in the area.  Lutz calls it a "straight-friendly gay establishment" and sits along the bustling 23rd Street area, home to an array of popular bars and restaurants.  Their restaurant week menu can be viewed here.  

Stepping into Freddies is like stepping straight into South Beach, Miami.  The colorful, fun atmosphere is popular with Arlington residents and high-profile politicians alike.  

a man standing in front of Tim Kaine et al. posing for the camera © Provided by WJLA – Washington D.C.

Back across the river in D.C., restaurants like Cuba Libre are eager to welcome patrons back inside the restaurant but continues to offer unique outdoor dining options. Back in December, the restaurant debuted their cozy campfire cabin dining pods offering patrons a cozy, warm environment surrounded by the city lights.  They also have 12 other tables on the sidewalk complete with windbreakers and heaters. 

Gutin says that restaurant week is a great opportunity to try various Cuban cuisine at a reduced cost.  Gutin says that diners can enjoy 3-course dining for just $35 and sample plates that would usually cost well over $50.  He says their team is preparing all weekend to reopen next week.  Their menu can be viewed here.  

"it will be really, really special," Gutin says.  "We'll be cooking all weekend so come and join us Monday."  

a group of people sitting at a table in a restaurant © Provided by WJLA – Washington D.C.

Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week starts January 25 and lasts through February 7.  Restaurants in Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. are all participating.  For more information, click here.  

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