- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 15, 2001

The government's tight grip on security in downtown Washington has put the squeeze on businesses, forcing some to close as customers virtually disappeared from the streets.
Metropolitan police had closed 11 streets by yesterday afternoon. At the Secret Service's request, the police also shut streets surrounding the White House, an area bounded by I Street NW to the north, 14th Street NW to the east, Constitution Avenue NW to the south, and 18th Street NW to the west.
It is not clear when the streets will reopen, a police spokesman said.
The closings — part of a security clampdown following Tuesday's terrorist attacks at the Pentagon and the World Trade Center — all but stripped parts of downtown Washington of the commuters and pedestrians who usually fill its streets.
"It's hurting. Our businesses are losing a ton of money," said Richard A. Monteilh, president of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce.
Some businesses closed yesterday after police tightened security around the White House Thursday afternoon. Those that stayed open reported a trickle of customers.
Smaller shops may be unable to survive the slowdown the closings created, Mr. Monteilh said. "A lot of these businesses don't do all that well to begin with. This is going to put some people out of business," he said.
Old Ebbitt Grill, a tony restaurant at 675 15th St. NW, closed Thursday night and remained shuttered yesterday. "The street became very desolate. It didn't make sense for us to stay open," said David Moran, who manages the eatery.
Old Ebbitt, which did $14.7 million in business last year, usually serves about 2,000 customers a day. Mr. Moran estimates the restaurant has lost "thousands of dollars" since 15th Street closed.
Another fashionable restaurant, the Occidental Grill at 1475 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, stayed open yesterday but saw a huge dropoff in business.
general manager, said it served about 50 lunches, down from the 200 to 250 lunches it usually serves on weekdays in September.
The waiters at the Occidental typically count on business to pick up in September, after a summer slowdown.
"This is the point in time when our servers start making money again. For them, business hasn't just been slow for a few days, it's been slow for 35 days," Ms. Kain said.
The Willard Inter-continental Washington, a hotel near the Occidental, stayed open, although a spokeswoman said business was slow.
Riggs National Corp., the parent company of Riggs Bank, also reported slow business at its branches near the White House. By yesterday afternoon, it closed its branch near the Old Executive Office Building and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, although some its corporate offices at that location remained open.
The Smithsonian-operated Renwick Gallery a Pennsylvania Avenue and 17th Street NW closed at the Secret Service's request Thursday night, about 90 minutes before a catered art showing was set to begin.
Some businesses said they stayed open because they did not want the terrorist attacks to disrupt their day-to-day activities.
Wall Street Deli Inc., an Alabama company that operates 16 delicatessen-style restaurants in Washington, said business was slow at its downtown locations, but it stayed open anyway.
"It's not always about profit. Our people wanted to come to work, and we're very proud of them," said Jeffrey V. Kaufman, the company's president and chief executive.


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