On Thursday morning, former FBI director James Comey will testify in front of the Senate intelligence committee about his dealings with Donald Trump before the president fired him last month. There's enormous buzz around the hearing all over the country, but especially in the nation's capital--and in an inspired bit of local marketing, Washington, D.C., watering hole Shaw's Tavern is taking full advantage.
Shaw's general manager, Rob Heim, has created a public Facebook event for Thursday called "The Comey Hearing Covfefe," for which the tavern will open at 9:30 a.m. and offer a themed menu: $5 Russian vodka drinks, FBI sandwiches (fried chicken breast, bacon, and iceberg lettuce), and FBI breakfasts (French toast, bacon, and ice cream).
"Come on," the Facebook page reads. "You know you want to watch the drama unfold this Thursday."
In the days since it was posted on the social network, the event has taken off and even appears to have inspired copycats. More than 600 people have indicated they are going to the event--far more than the 120-seat tavern can hold--and thousands have marked that they are "interested." At least four other D.C. bars are planning on opening early to broadcast the hearing--and at least one is giving away free drinks every time Trump tweets about the hearing:
Heim says the idea struck him last weekend while he was on vacation in Florida. A friend texted him asking if he wanted to have a couple of drinks while watching the hearing. "I can't. I have to work," Heim responded, before realizing he could do both at once.
"I Googled it real quickly just to see if anyone else was showing it, and when they weren't, I was like, 'Oh, maybe this will be a bust,'" he says. "But it turned out the opposite."
Heim says he emailed the restaurant's owner to get his blessing, and then created the Facebook event just before getting on a plane back to D.C. When he landed, he was surprised to find the event already gaining steam.
The spike in attention from social media users and media outlets worldwide has been remarkable for Shaw's Tavern, which is less than two miles from the U.S. Capitol building, where the hearing will be held. But the local response has been enthusiastic as well. Emails, texts, and calls have come in from regulars and new customers alike. Interest doesn't appear to be restricted to one side of the political aisle or the other; Heim says that people so far "just have expressed interest in watching--not a particular leaning."
Normally, the tavern opens at 11 a.m. on Thursdays--and doesn't really heat up until post-work happy hour. "A lot patrons seem to be wondering if we have Wi-Fi because they're planning on working from the bar with their laptops," Heim notes. (They do.)
This is the tavern's first congressional hearing, though it has previously found success hosting watch parties for presidential debates and election nights. "We've had more turnout for debate nights than the Super Bowl, but it's basically the same thing," says Heim. "A lot of people on both sides of the aisle rooting for their teams."