Gateway restaurant’s owner fears possible government shutdown will be bad for business

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Democrats and Republicans continue to play the blame game in Washington. Many here in the Tennessee Valley are concerned about the possibility of a government shutdown.

WJP Restaurant group chose to open up shop near Gate 9 on the Redstone Arsenal for a reason. The Gateway restaurants have an average of 3,000 customers a week. Eighty percent of those customers are government employees or defense contractors.

"It would just be futile. I would imagine that it would be very much like what we saw during this cold spell. Total absence of business between the closures of school and the closure of the Arsenal," said Michael Northern, Vice President WJP Restaurant Group.

Northern recognizes this isn't the first time people in north Alabama have been concerned about the possibility of a government shutdown. Northern can't help but think that special interests are more important to those in Washington. His biggest concern is if the government doesn't stay afloat, it will freeze operations at the four Gateway restaurants.

"People don't realize this but in the restaurant business, you don't make your money on the first 275 customers of the day. You make it on the last seven. So every customer is precious," said Northern.

Northern says his 60 employees would be out of work if Congress doesn't reach a resolution by midnight on Friday.

"This is around the time where bills are coming up... so then your rent isn't getting paid. So you are late on your rent, you're late on your water. Things start getting shut off and eventually I might become evicted and it's kind of cold," said employee Briana Simmons.

Simmons never imagined she would be facing the same issue her mother, who is a government employee, did in 2013.

"She was out of a job for about a week until the next budget was agreed upon. So, seeing her get stressed out made me realize how much this can affect others besides herself," explained Simmons.

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