Restaurants in Federal Spaces Forced to Close Doors Amid Government Shutdown

2 min read

Government employees aren't the only ones out of work due to the shutdown. Independently-owned restaurants on national parks and in federal buildings are facing difficult decisions on what to do in the face of empty dining rooms and little recourse.

As the shutdown stretches on, the financial consequences of forced closures are becoming increasingly dire. City Tavern, a Philadelphia restaurant inside Independence National Historical Park, estimates a long-term closure could cost "hundreds of thousands of dollars." 

National Park rangers have reportedly been ordered in some areas to keep customers out of businesses that have attempted to stay open. According to The Washington Times, concessions operations are being forced to close, while leases, such as hotels, can remain open. Owners have found the discrepancy confusing, as select hotels, roads and concessionaires in national parks and on federal property have continued their services, while others have been forced to shut down. However, even private businesses that have remained open have suffered due to lack of customers.

Related: With Shutdown and Shootout, Washington D.C. Businesses Report Significant Losses

While most government employees have the promise of back pay after the shutdown ends, restaurant employees lack such assistance. Some chains, such as McDonald's, have promised to pay employees for the hours they were scheduled to work. However, others, such as Subway, have not at this point reported plans to compensate workers for their forced leave of absence. (Subway did not immediately respond to's inquiries.)

Other restaurants are simply refusing to close. Carrot Tree Kitchens, located in the Cole Digges House in Yorktown, Va., which is owned and operated by the National Park Service, posted on the restaurant's Facebook page on Monday, "OCCUPY NPS." The restaurant opened for lunch on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. ET, despite government orders to close up shop. Meanwhile, another shutdown holdout, San Francisco's Cliff House, was forced to close for the duration of the shutdown today after a two day fight to reopen the restaurant.

What should restaurateurs do in this tricky situation? Stay open despite government orders, shut down but pay employees or go on an unpaid vacation?

Related: Starbucks' Free Coffee Promotion Isn't Actually About Ending the Government Shutdown

More from Entrepreneur

Grow Your Business at Entrepreneur LIVE! Join us on Nov. 16 in Brooklyn, NY, to learn from legends like Danica Patrick and Maria Sharapova, pitch our editors, meet with investors, and potentially walk away with funding!
Register here

One-on-one online sessions with our experts can help you start a business, grow your business, build your brand, fundraise and more.
Book Your Session

Whether you are launching or growing a business, we have all the business tools you need to take your business to the next level, in one place.
Enroll Now

Latest on Entrepreneur

My Queue

There are no Videos in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any video to save to your queue.

There are no Articles in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any article to save to your queue.

There are no Podcasts in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any podcast episode to save to your queue.

You're not following any authors.

Click the Follow button on any author page to keep up with the latest content from your favorite authors.