The conversation wafting through the Crystal City Sports Pub around lunchtime Tuesday was peppered with nervous laughter, as federal employees tried to stay positive in light of the government shutdown.
"My wife works at the EPA… So, we're both out of work today."
"Mom, it's OK. We're not moving in with you!"
"Half-priced lap dances for two. Just present your government ID!"
"What can you do for some out-of-work federal employees who are down on their luck," one man asked a passing waiter.
He replied: "Happy Hour, that's your answer."
John Finlay, the owner and manager of the popular neighborhood bar and restaurant, said thanks to federal employees being required to work four hours Tuesday, business for the day might have seen a small bump: Work a half day, grab a beer before heading home.
But Finlay expects to begin feeling the pain of the shutdown, if it lasts, by the end of this week or early next week.
"It's a topic of conversation at every table," Finlay told Patch. "It's going to affect us dramatically. The longer it goes on, the more damage will be done."
The sports pub has been in Crystal City for nearly two decades, so it's weathered the shutdowns of the 1990s, not to mention 9/11 and, earlier this year, sequestration.
"We value our guests," Finlay said. "People still need to go out, still need to feel that sense of community."
Next door, at Cesar's Diner, one large-screen TV was tuned to CNN, which was 12 hours in to its real-time government shutdown clock.
"People are going to stop spending, because they don't have any money," owner Jose Serrano said. "It's already bad, so it's going to get worse."
The damage won't be limited to restaurants.
Across 23rd Street, Alber Housep, the owner of Alber's Cleaners and Shoe Repair, estimates 90 percent of his business comes from federal employees or people otherwise connected to the federal government.
If people aren't going to work, they aren't dropping off their dry cleaning or shoes.
Housep was up late Monday watching the drama unfold across the Potomac and hoping for a resolution.
"I hope it's soon, because if 800,000 people get unemployed, look how many businesses will be affected," he said. "All their finances, that all goes down. It's all connected, like a chain."
More:Government Shutdown 2013: What's Open, What's Closed