After nearly five years in business, Leesburg’s Dog Money Restaurant and Brewery is closing its doors, a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dean Lake and Tim Regan were already seasoned pros when they decided to take over a space at 50 Catoctin Circle, launching in 2016 with a range of beers and a name referring back to the local currency issued by the Town of Leesburg before the Civil War. And since that time, it saw steady business, Lake said.
But with the pandemic cutting deep into the restaurant’s revenues, winter weather driving people back indoors, and Congressional gridlock that has lasted most of the 2020, Lake said the business “without further federal assistance, we can’t continue.”
“In order for us to continue at the reduced revenue rate, we were going to have to count on federal loans or grants. We were going to have to count on a landlord who had the flexibility to work with us on rent costs, we had to count on consumer patterns of behavior, and we had to count on good weather,” Lake said. Almost all of those things came together for the business: “We’ve been very fortunate in all of those respects over the summer, but obviously we knew winter was coming. We did not know that there would be a lack of a second round of help from the government.”
He said the business has been fortunate with good weather over the summer that let it stay open and keep employees on the payroll. That weather, he said, was the only reason the business made it this far. And, he said, “I think we had a good run.”
“I was sitting here this morning at home watching the Senate hearings, where Mnuchin is calling for not just loans, but grants specifically for restaurants,” Lake said. “And that’s what we’ve been hearing for months and months, and it hasn’t happened. And it’s now clear that if and when it happens, it will be too late for Dog Money.”
By contrast, he said, local government stepped up.
“Leesburg and Loudoun County both really stepped up,” Lake said. “They definitely were showing support for restaurants, an it was meaningful. It wasn’t enough for us, unfortunately, but I do appreciate the help that we got. It did make a difference.”
And don’t forget about the brews at Dog Money—Lake said he fully intends to stay in the brewery business.
“We still have a vital and thriving craft brewing industry in Loudoun County, and in Leesburg in particular,” Lake said. “And I hope to continue to be a part of that.”