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Downtown DC businesses prepare for 'Unite the Right 2'

WASHINGTON -- D.C. businesses around Lafayette Park are preparing for "Unite the Right 2."

The restaurant, Equinox, is located less than a block away from where white supremacists are expected to gather for a rally on Sunday.

Co-owner and executive chef Todd Gray said the business will turn away any people who make their staff or customers feel uncomfortable.

“We have a very diverse staff,” he said. “Their beliefs are very progressive, from all parts of the world, so the last thing that we would want is to endanger their safety and, obviously, our clientele’s safety.”

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Co-owner Ellen Kassoff agreed. She said she wanted to make sure her business remained a safe dining establishment.

“It’s not really different than refusing service to someone who is overly intoxicated either,” she said. “We’re not trying to do some reverse discrimination here. It’s about comfort level.”

Equinox is only open for brunch on Sundays.

Another restaurant, just blocks away from the White House, named, Lincoln, will also go about business differently on Sunday.

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Lincoln General Manager Robert Hall told WUSA9 his restaurant will close early.

The restaurant placed a sign on its door earlier in the week which read, “hatred has no welcome solace here”.

Hall said the business had some real concerns about operating on a full Sunday schedule.

“We didn’t want our employees to be in the position of having to say to guests, ‘You are not welcome here’,” he said. “We said it’s a lot more important that we make a very clear and bold statement about who we are.”

Hall added there will be other challenges that face Lincoln on Sunday too.

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“Our business is anticipated to be down probably 30 to 40 percent this weekend,” he said. “As well as the convenience of our employees with traffic, Metro and parking.”

The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington also took time to give its members’ information as to how they can operate their businesses safely during the Unite the Right 2 rally.

RAMW sent an email to restaurants with advice from MPD on how to prepare restaurant staff for a potentially “escalated or aggressive situation”. The email also included information from RAMW’s general counsel on the legal aspects of refusing service to some customers.

“According to The Veritas Law Firm, our General Counsel, the law generally permits a restaurant or tavern to refuse service to an individual or group of individuals,” said Julie Sproesser, managing director of RAMW.

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She added restaurants are not able to refuse service, based on discriminatory reasons against protected classes like race, sex or political affiliation.

“However, a choice not to host a fringe ideological group likely would not violate the DC Human Rights Act’s prohibition on discrimination,” Sproesser said.

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