Several people I know are a bit aghast that McDonald’s has been the beneficiary of the city’s money, citing concern for local businesses and for the general health and well-being of the drivers. It’s not quite that simple.
These storms were pretty catastrophic events, and the plow crews were working 12-hour shifts to keep the main arteries clear, it’s not like they were just crashing at McDonald’s because it was cheap and easy. For the large part of each three-day storm, it was the only option. This was a storm that brought the local stores to empty in 48hrs and many restaurants couldn’t get staff together to even open.
Now, let’s leave aside the question of open and closed, and look at some matters of geography. DC’s DDOT plow yard sits in Near Southeast, down near Nats Park. It was easy to get land there awhile ago, and that’s why the city has kept it. It’s also near to several large arteries that serve the District. Here’s the map:
View Snow Hotels Map in a larger map
The hotels the plow drivers used were all in close proximity to the DDOT plow yard in the 100 block of K Street SE. There’s the Courtyard right next door, the Capitol Skyline, at K & S Capitol, and the Channel Inn over on the Waterfront. All of them are right near the plow yard, but they’re in a part of town that is drastically underserved for restaurants of any kind. The last thing you want the plow drivers to do after a 12-hour shift is get in their car again. So, they went to McDonald’s or Subway, both of which are walking distance to their hotels. It’s not ideal, but I understand just why they did it, and it makes sense to me.
I’d rather they went to the grocery store, but that Safeway in Southwest is sketchier than a bad comic book, and I believe under renovation, so I understand that they chose not to. Sucks, yeah, but that’s an underserved part of town to begin with, and I understand the choices they made.