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How Detroit Restaurants Are Supporting Government Workers During the Shutdown

Workers with government IDs can get free macaroni and cheese, Ethiopian meals, and happy hour pricing

Bobcat Bonnie’s Ferndale.
Michelle and Chris Gerard
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

Close to a million furloughed government employees missed out on their first paychecks of 2019 as a result of the U.S.’s longest ever partial government shutdown and there appears to be no end in sight to the standoff between congress and President Donald Trump over funding for a highly controversial border wall. Federal workers are now guaranteed back pay after the shutdown concludes, but in the meantime many families are feeling financial strain from mounting bills and mortgage payments.

With that in mind, local food banks are working to get free food boxes to families in need. Many restaurants throughout the metro Detroit region including more than 50 area restaurants on Friday, January 25, are also showing support for furloughed workers by offering specials and free meals with a federal ID.

This list will be regularly updated. Know of furlough food, drink, or restaurant deals in Detroit not listed here? Send those tips to Eater Detroit via the tipline.

Union Joints: Metro Detroit restaurant group Union Joints (Fenton Fire Hall, Honcho, Union Woodshop, Vinsetta Garage, and more) is offering free plates of macaroni and cheese on Mondays throughout the duration of the shutdown to workers with a federal ID.

Downtown Louie’s: This Capitol Park area restaurant has pledge free meals for employees Monday through Thursday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. with a federal ID.

Bobcat Bonnie’s: Mini chain Bobcat Bonnie’s is guaranteeing $5 happy hour prices for everything on the menu with a federal ID.

Blue Nile: This Ferndale Ethiopian restaurant is offering furloughed customers a free meal by reservation (limit to 14 meals per day total) throughout the duration of the shutdown.

Valentine Distilling Co. Cocktail Lounge: Ferndale-based distillery Valentine is offering half-off cocktails to federal workers every day through the government shutdown to customers who present their federal ID.

Frita Batidos: Ann Arbor’s Cuban burger destination is offering free lunch to federal employees with an ID during the week of January 21.

Kola Restaurant & Ultra Lounge: This African eatery in Farmington Hills is offering free meals to federal workers going without pay during the shutdown. Customers can send an email with a federal ID and proof that they’re impacted to

River Bistro: Federal government employees can receive a complimentary meal of Caribbean curry chicken over rice from noon to 8 p.m. at chef Maxcel Hardy’s Grandmont-Rosedale area eatery from Wednesday, January 23 through Friday, January 25. Bring a federal ID.

Dozens of Metro Detroit Restaurants Will Feed Families of Federal Workers Today [ED]
José Andrés and His Nonprofit Pledge to Feed Thousands of Furloughed Employees [EDC]
The Longest Government Shutdown in History, Explained [Vox]