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Pandemic brings challenging times for restaurants even during Restaurant Week

The pandemic has brought challenging times for restaurants in the DMV, with the struggles continuing through Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week this year.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — With the pandemic continuing to impact restaurants all around the DMV, this year's Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week did not bring the usual popularity and customers for some eateries.

The two-week event, which offered special deals for three-course lunch and dinner meals at over 200 restaurants, concluded on Sunday night. 

However, at places like Karma Modern Indian near Mount Vernon Triangle, the last day brought a common sight during the pandemic: empty tables.

Owner Sachin Mahajan said the slow days seen in August followed months of the restaurant struggling to get by.

According to Mahajan, revenue has plummeted at least 70% compared to last year as a result of strict coronavirus guidelines and customers concerned about eating out.

"We had 35 employees before and now we operate with 10 to 12 employees typically," he said on Sunday. "Any business that can walk through the door is really helpful for us at this time.”

Mahajan said Restaurant Week saw a similar loss of revenue percentage this year.

While some restaurants may have seen better results, he said the location of the Indian eatery near Penn Quarter added on to the challenges.

"In the downtown area where we are, because all the office buildings are still closed there’s no events in the area," the owner said. 

In a normal year, Mahajan said Restaurant Week often brought reservations made weeks in advance and busy lunch hour crowds.

However, the continued struggles of the restaurant industry made no exception of the special event.

The food-focused week was founded after 9/11 to entice diners to eat out. Now during a pandemic, small businesses are once again adjusting to a new world. WASHINGTON D.C., DC - Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week is in full swing, but it's coming at a weird time for just about everyone.

In a statement sent to WUSA, the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington said organizers worked with restaurants to navigate through this year's issues.

"We designed this cycle of Restaurant Week to allow the fullest flexibility and options for diners and restaurants to be able to operate in a dial back or dial up fashion," the statement read. "The expanded format was adapted to provide new ways to support the talented hospitality professionals and irrepressibly strong, community-minded industry and to give diners, of every comfort level, a variety of options to plug in to."

With restaurants still experiencing challenges, Mahajan hoped Congress would pass more aid for struggling businesses.

"We are trying to take it day by day and see how long can we survive," he said. 

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