Restaurants, DIA, others offer fed employees deals during shutdown

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News
Bobcat Bonnie's will offer a deal for furloughed government workers at all three of their area locations.

Restaurants and attractions are stepping up to offer deals to federal workers who are affected by the partial government shutdown. 

Last week Union Joints restaurant group announced it would dish out free macaroni and cheese to federal employees, and more businesses have followed suit. 

All three Bobcat Bonnie's locations (Corktown, Ferndale and Wyandotte) will extend the $5 happy hour pricing to all food menu items plus appetizers, signature cocktails and wines by the glass to federal employees with ID. 

"We can't imagine how stressed out you may be," the restaurant group posted on social media Wednesday. "Stop in, grab some food and drink and let us take care of you. We love our friends and neighbors, so let us treat you."

Downtown Louie's Lounge at 30 Clifford in Detroit is boasting a "free meal" to any federal employee with proper identification during the shutdown. Tuesday the restaurant's Facebook page posted a photo of President Donald Trump with the stack of fast food he served to the Clemson University football team Monday. 

"Big Mac? Forget that!! How about a fresh, warm, delicious meal?" the post read, adding that any federal employees affected by the shutdown can come to the restaurant 2-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday for a meal on the house.

The Blue Nile's Ferndale location posted to Facebook weeks ago telling any customers affected by the shutdown to send them a message on Facebook and they will discreetly arrange a free meal for them at the restaurant. The popular Ethiopian restaurant will offer up to 14 free meals per day.  

Even distinguished cultural institutions are getting in on the act. The Detroit Institute of Arts announced Thursday that all federal employees, never mind where they live, will be admitted free with their government ID. Ordinarily, general admission is waived just for residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. 

DIA Director Salvador Salort-Pons said this would enable furloughed workers “to connect with the world’s history and culture during a time of stress in their lives. We hope,” he added, “they are able to take time to recharge and be inspired by the power of human creativity.” The museum’s offer will last until the shutdown ends. 

Beyond restaurants and museums, the Harlem Globetrotters on Wednesday announced that free tickets for their 2019 tour would be given to any government employees currently on furlough.  

This includes the team's March 2 appearance at Little Caesars Arena. Show a valid government ID at the Little Caesars Arena box office and get two complimentary tickets for the 2 p.m. game. Offer is valid only during the shutdown and quantities are limited. 

“As the Ambassadors of Goodwill, we want to show our support to all those government workers whose paychecks, and by extension their families, are directly impacted,” said Globetrotter President Howard Smith in a press release.

Twitter: @melodybaetens

Michael Hodges contributed