‘It’s terrifying’: Businesses flee blue city in droves as crime crushes profits

Lillian Tweten
Daily Caller News Foundation

Several restaurants and businesses throughout Washington, D.C., have been forced to flee the city because of rising crime and costs in the area, Fox5 DC reported.

Brine Oyster & Seafood House, a popular restaurant that opened its first location in the city 2020, will close both its H Street and DuPont circle locations in D.C. because of the violent crime that has “made it impossible … to survive,” the restaurant owners wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. The restaurant locations will be the 47th and 48th to close in the city this year, according to Fox5.

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“We’ve both been burglarized numerous times, both of my restaurants. Numerous times,” Aaron McGovern, the co-owner of Brine Oyster & Seafood House, told Fox5. “So has everyone on the block, numerous times. We started to see violence. Not just ‘Oh, there’s a gunshot a mile away.’ We could hear the bullets. It’s…the restaurant I’m looking at right now had four shootings there four weeks ago.”

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Restaurants and businesses throughout the city have begun to express concerns over rising costs, decreasing foot traffic and increasing crime, Fox5 reported. One business owner chose to shut down her business in October after reporting that her shop has been hit by retail theft almost daily, according to WUSA9 CBS.

Businesses along the H Street corridor in D.C. have reported a massive increase in crime in 2023, with one restaurant, The Pursuit Wine Bar and Kitchen, getting robbed five times in eight months, Fox5 reported. Another business owner, who owns five properties on H Street, said that he has lost customers because of the violent crime that has begun to swallow the area, according to WTOP News, a local outlet.

“We are exhausted. I think every business is,” Adam Kelinsky, the owner of The Pursuit Wine Bar and Kitchen, told FOX 5 in August. “Everyday, I’m waking up to an announcement on our community WhatsApp post where someone has broken into one of our sister businesses, friends along the street or someone supporting a business has been attacked. It’s terrifying.”

Property crime throughout the city has increased 25% since 2022, while robberies have risen by 68%, according to police data. Crime has increased so much that even once-trendy neighborhoods have begun to be swallowed by violence and theft.

Democratic D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has attempted to shift the area’s response to crime in recent weeks as residents have begun to push back against the city’s police reforms and lenient punishments for most crimes. But McGovern claimed that he had to shutter his restaurants in part because these efforts had done little to curb crime so far and urged the local politicians to focus more on safety in D.C., Fox5 reported.

“I think our leadership in government, local government should really take a look at the businesses,” McGovern told Fox5. “The safety of the citizens. The well-being of its taxpaying base and see that it’s important because people will leave. They stop going out. They’ll move out of the city, and you need to protect your citizens.”

The D.C. Police Department and the mayor’s office did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.

This story originally was published by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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