Young and Hungry

Johnny’s Half Shell Figured Out How to Deal with Inaugural Traffic: Never Go Home

Whether on foot or in the car, traveling was a pain in the ass during Inauguration Weekend. John Fulchino, co-owner of Johnny's Half Shell, knew it would be, which is why he and five other managers didn't leave the Capitol Hill restaurant for several days.

From Saturday through Tuesday night, Fulchino and company made work their home. When the hungry masses finally left each night—by Fulchino's best estimate, Johnny's served up more than 2,100 meals during the four-day period—the managers simply pulled out their air mattresses and "French Foreign Legion" cots and went to sleep. The rest of the staff crashed at the homes of other workers who lived nearby. Chef Ann Cashion, who lives in Mount Pleasant, opted to take the Metro home.

So why didn't Fulchino, who lives in Adams Morgan, decide to go home, too? Mostly to squeeze a little extra sleep in, he says. Since he was working until 2:30 or 3:30 a.m. every night during that period—and had to be back at work by 5 or 6 a.m. for the breakfast shift, "there was no reason for me to leave," Fulchino says.

Well, maybe there was a reason after all: The heating system was programmed to shut down automatically at midnight every night. Fulchino and his managers couldn't feel the lack of heat while there were still warm bodies in the restaurant, but once they hit the hay, they suddenly realized it was freezing inside the Half Shell. Couldn't you have just turned it back on, John?

"I could have, but I was too tired to get out of the cot," Fulchino says.

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