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Working Together to Stay in Business

When Mayor Bowser shut down non-essential businesses on March 25, Labyrinth Puzzles & Games (645 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, www.labyrinthgameshop.com) owner Kathleen Donahue was looking for a way to keep the heartbeat of her business alive. She approached Mary Quillian Helms, owner of Mr. Henry’s Restaurant (601 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, mr.henrysdc.com). The restaurant is closed for dine-in, but had arranged a window for customer pick-up, and Donahue wondered if customers could collect the puzzles and games they ordered online or over the phone together with hamburgers and adult beverages.

“I immediately said ‘yes’ without hesitation,” said Quillian Helms. “This is a win-win for all of us.”

Thinking it a brilliant idea, Quillian Helms approached East City Bookshop (645 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, eastcitybookshop.com) and later, Hill’s Kitchen (713 D St. SE, www.hillskitchen.com) to extend the same offer, giving ‘non-essential’ businesses a hand and promoting all four together.

“If the customer calls and orders food and drink for delivery [within zip codes 20002 and 20003] from Mr. Henry’s and we have their retail items from the other stores, we’ll deliver those items with the Henry’s order,” the Mr. Henry’s owner added. “Why not?  It just makes sense.”

The businesses may have been deemed ‘non-essential’ by the order, but their services are clearly in demand.

“Anyone with kids at home knows books and games are vitally important right now,” laughed Mr. Henry’s General Manager Cathy Nagy. She said she did not anticipate the volume of books, games and kitchen supplies that are now going out through their patio window.

Labyrinth’s Donahue said the fact that Mr. Henry’s was willing to become a pick-up and delivery point for neighboring businesses was “just super, super wonderful. I just think it’s really great how the community is coming out to support different people through this.”

Realtors Jason Martin Group have also united the community, organizing a weekly online trivia night that has already raised thousands of dollars in donations for local businesses, including Labyrinth but also Trusty’s, Maketto, Emilie’s and Bookstore Movers. Online donations from players are donated to the businesses, and players are encouraged to order food in to enhance the atmosphere of pub games. You can play every Tuesday night by registering at www.fortheloveoftrivia.com

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