WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — The owners of Brine Oyster Bar & Seafood House, which had two locations, one on H Street NE, and the other on Dupont Circle, said in a statement on Facebook that they would be closing both locations permanently.
“The challenges of the restaurant industry since the pandemic, the current economic climate, and the spike in violent crime have made it increasingly difficult to operate and impossible for us to survive. We have explored all options, but regrettably, we have no choice but to close our doors,” the owners said.
According to the statement, the final dinner service was to take place on Saturday, Nov. 11.
DC News Now interviewed owner Aaron McGovern in June 2023 after a suspect was taken into custody following a string of burglaries along the H Street Corridor.
McGovern said his business had been burglarized just weeks prior to the arrest.
“The cash register was stolen, computer was thrown on the floor, beer taps were opened up so it flooded the whole bar here with beer. A bunch of champagne and wine were stolen,” he said.
A few months ago, an employee was assaulted.
“My employee was shot and stabbed over his wallet a few months back,” McGovern said.
McGovern said he and his employees did not feel safe in the area.
“It’ll definitely be missed. It’s been a nice little staple here for a while. The owner is amazing, and the food is great,” said Quest Skinner, who frequents the restaurant.
Skinner said it’s difficult to see the restaurant go.
“It definitely changes the atmosphere and aesthetics on H Street,” she said. “You understand the business that’s at stake for the owners, everyone that goes out of business here is a big loss.”
Brine isn’t alone — Buttercream Bake Shop announced it’ll close at the end of 2023, in part due to crime. Last winter, City Winery closed in Ivy City due to a concern over safety.
DC News Now reached out to the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. In a statement, President and CEO Shawn Towsend said the following:
We are saddened by the announcement of yet another restaurant closure. Public safety is an issue that transcends local and regional boundaries, mirroring a broader, national problem that necessitates concerted efforts.
Navigating the hospitality landscape poses a multifaceted challenge for the industry. Beyond the pressing concerns of rising crime rates, restaurants are grappling with fluctuating tipped wage issues, and the broader economic strain induced by inflation. These compounding factors contribute to a formidable environment, resulting in drops in revenue that significantly affect the viability of establishments. The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) is actively engaged in addressing these complex issues, advocating for solutions that safeguard the welfare of both businesses and the communities they serve.Statement from Shawn Towsend