Day 21: Local businesses offer deals amid partial government shutdown

Day 21: Local businesses offer deals amid partial government shutdown. (Source: WEAR-TV)

A local restaurant group is offering some relief in the form of food to those affected by the partial government shutdown.

Dozens of federal workers made their way here to Ruby Slipper Cafe Friday afternoon for a free hot meal.

It's a gesture making the frustration of the job easier to digest for 23-year-old Red Slipper waitress Olivia Perry.

"That could easily be us in this position," Perry said.

It was supposed to be payday for federal employees.

But paychecks are on hold for some 800,000 federal employees across the country forced to go on unpaid leave or work without pay since last month.

"These people are still having to go to work, pay for bills, and work without that compensation of getting paid," explained Perry.

Now, with no paycheck coming in, many are wondering how they will make ends meet.

Stephanie Friedman knows what it is like to miss a paycheck.

"This is something I've learned over the years to prepare for, it tends to happen quite often," Friedman said.

Friedman is a microbiologist for the Environmental Protection Agency. She and her colleagues are hoping the government shutdown ends soon.

"My hope is that the government will reopen. We do, even though a lot of people don't know our agency is there and provide many services like your water quality and the conditions of your gulf and local waters here," said Friedman.

The Ruby Slipper Cafe's Senior General Manager, Edwin Vega says they have served nearly one hundred federal workers and their families hot meals here over the last 48 hours.

Vega says they have also assisted families displaced by Hurricane Michael last fall.

"To be without pay people are feeling slightly embarrassed and ashamed that they don't have money so for us to offer them a free meal, let them come in and enjoy the hospitality has been great and overall it has been positive," explained Vega.

Vega says all you need is a government ID to get a free meal.

A Pensacola cocktail lounge is offering a free drink for furloughed workers this weekend.

The Azalea Cocktail Lounge is proud to offer a free drink on the house to furloughed federal workers this Saturday, January 12 and Sunday, January 13.

“For more than 70 years, the Azalea has been a part of this community,” said Azalea owner Larry B. Johnson.

Johnson said, "We’ve tried to be there for our neighbors in good times and bad. We’re proud to support local a lot of local nonprofits throughout the year. And we stand with and support our local federal employees who are going without pay because of the dysfunction in Washington.”

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