US firms offer freebies to workers hit by shutdown

Photo courtesy of @banz110

In the wake of a congressional impasse that shut down the US government and temporarily forced hundreds of thousands out of state jobs, Washington, D.C., businesses have responded with generous offers to feed and entertain the furloughed workers.


From free cups of coffee and booze, to complementary museum and movie tickets, Washington, D.C.-area federal employees who have been ordered to stay at home without pay have several reasons to keep getting up in the morning.

In the wake of a government shutdown that has left around 800,000 federal workers temporarily jobless, many businesses have began offering the workers “furlough freebies”.

While some of the promos appear to mask blatant opportunism – such as the myriad bars offering people who can flash government IDs discounted happy-hour prices throughout the day – there was also real generosity on display.

Washington, D.C.-based, celebrity chef José Andrés, announced via Twitter that three of his metro-area restaurants (Jaleo, Zaytinya and Oyamel) would be giving affected state employees one free sandwich per day for the duration of the shutdown.

“FEDS! Looks like you need a drink folks,” joked Mockingbird Hill, a downtown wine bar specializing in sherry and cured ham, on its Twitter account. It was offering a free glass of the bar's spirit of predilection to cheer them up.

Some eateries were offering workers free food, and also taking the opportunity to rage against lawmakers that failed to agree on a budget deal that could ultimately have serious economic consequences for the US capital and the country.

The Pork Barrel BBQ restaurant in the D.C. suburb of Alexandria was giving away one free pulled pork sandwich per day to anyone with a government ID –except members of Congress.

But there were more than food and drink on the freebies menu. The Beltway Plaza Mall in northwest Washington upped the anti by providing a free lunch, as a well as complimentary movie pass, as part of a “Beat the Furlough” promotion until October 31.

While the staff of the federally-funded Smithsonian museums was shut out of working, the nearby National Geographic Museum was offering them and all other furloughed workers a free pass to enjoy their exhibitions until the shutdown ended.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts was also providing no-cost admission to federal employees, as well as 10% off in their museum shop.

For federal workers looking for a new hobby, the yarn store Fibre Space in Alexandria was offering free “intro to knitting” classes – a $75 value – on every workday that the federal government remains closed.

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