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Community Matters: Sloppy Mama's BBQ on Closing During COVID-19

Updated: May 25

This interview is one of a multi-part series exploring the difficult decision of DC area restaurants to close their doors during COVID-19. For more on the series, read here.


Sloppy Mama's BBQ, one of my favorite BBQ spots in the DMV, chose to shut down operations on March 16th, 2020. Sloppy Mama's was one of the first local restaurants to close its doors and has a powerful explanation for why they did so. They believe that "the safest thing we can do, to stop the spread of COVID-19, according to the information we had was to cease all operations... if safety is our number one concern for our staff, their families, delivery drivers, and customers, the only rational conclusion is to cease operations immediately and reopen when the CDC gives the all-clear. Even with limited contact, based on the information that we have, we can still spread the virus."


Joe Neuman, owner of Sloppy Mama's, clearly cares about public health and his community. His interview below highlights just how difficult it can be to make decisions with limited information and the unexpected costs of COVID-19 to businesses as coping with the virus demands more of their time and energy. Check out Joe's interview below.

Sloppy Mama's BBQ was one of the first DMV restaurants to close their doors. They did so explicitly out of a desire to protect their community and do what's best for public health. Listen to the story behind that decision here.



How has closing Sloppy Mama’s impacted its staff emotionally and financially?

It’s been a bit of a roller coaster emotionally. Financially we have zero income. We have been able to distribute food and a modest amount of cash to our staff every two weeks since we closed.

Beyond public safety, Joe explains how the current crisis places extra demands on small business owners to navigate complex assistance processes.

for themselves


and their employees


in more ways than one



What do you want your customers and community to know about the impact of COVID-19 on your business and on businesses in general?  

Without proper intervention from the federal government, the restaurant industry will cease to exist in any capacity by this time next year and that has a ripple effect on tax revenue and supply chains... Without long-term, low-interest working capital loans, a large number of small businesses will close their doors forever and unemployment will reach numbers never seen in the United States.

Want to support Sloppy Mama's BBQ employees? Donate to their fundraiser. Funds are split evenly among the staff every two weeks.


Thanks for checking out this Closed During COVID series! Other interviews in the series include Money Matters: Wicked Bloom and Hard Pivot: A Place To Walk To.

Any views expressed here do not represent those of people or organizations that the author may be professionally or personally associated with |

© Feed the Malik 2018