In the three weeks since the Trump administration moved into town, business at Bullfeathers, a Capitol Hill watering hole popular among Republican staffers, has climbed 55 percent. Old Ebbitt Grill, across from the White House, has reported an uptick in sales of fireball whiskey shots.
And at Luigi Parasmo Salon and Spa in Georgetown, a steady stream of recently relocated New Yorkers has been calling to schedule weekly blowouts and French manicures. The newcomers are “somewhat trendier” than the salon’s usual line-up of Washingtonians, owner Luigi Parasmo said. (He also has some ideas to jazz up the president’s hairdo, if called upon.)
“Lots of long hair!” he wrote in an email. “In general, big city people tend to be more attentive to their hair, nails and skin care.”
Throughout Washington, businessowners say it’s clear that the Trump administration has arrived. The new president and his staffers are settling in, and beginning to venture out to the region’s restaurants, bars, shops and salons.
It’s a tide that turns every four — or eight — years in Washington as one presidential administration gives way to the next, ushering in a new wave of people and preferences from across the country. Eight years ago, the Obama administration brought an influx of younger staffers who helped shore up the city’s drinking and dining scene. This time around, businessowners like John Tattersall are readying for their own renaissance.
“As soon as there’s a Republican president, I know business is going to pick up,” said Tattersall, owner of Grand Ole Potomac Fly Fishing Guides. “There’s lots of good activity on the books for the spring.”
But, he noted, his clients — most of whom are Republican — seem to be more pressed for time than usual this year. Instead of booking eight-hour fishing trips on the Potomac River, they’re opting for four-hour half days.
“Usually they have more time, especially when they’re not in power,” Tattersall, 54, said. “But now they’re getting really busy. They don’t have as much time for me.”
New faces have begun popping in to Ashok Bajaj’s restaurants around town, including Rasika, 701 and Bibiana. Press Secretary Sean Spicer recently dined at the Oval Room, while Ben Carson had lunch at the Bombay Club.
“They’re starting to get their footing, dining-wise,” Bajaj said. “As with any new administration, there is excitement about the new people coming in. And those who worked in Republican administrations before, they’re coming back and saying, ‘Hey, how are you? I’m back.’”
At East City Bookshop in Capitol Hill, owner Laurie Gillman has noticed a revival in book sales since the election. But, she said, it’s not necessarily Trump staffers who are stopping by, although a handful did pop in before the holidays. (The president, for his part, has said he does not have time to read.)
“We’re on Capitol Hill, so it’s a very liberal-leaning, progressive group of people,” Gillman said. “It’s a population that’s very attuned to what’s happening around us, so people are finding books that speak to their worries.”
A few blocks over, at Capitol Lounge, co-owner James Silk says bottled Bud Light and Tito’s Vodka have become popular in recent weeks. “A lot of new, young, eager faces” have helped drive sales since the inauguration, he said.
“It’s the same kind of turnover we see every two years with the change in Hill staffers,” Silk said. “It’s just a fact of doing business so close to the Capitol.”