Comet Ping Pong officially reopened Tuesday evening, welcoming droves of loyal customers. The restaurant has been closed since Sunday, when, police say, 28-year-old Edgar Welch walked inside with a long rifle and a hand gun, firing at least one shot. Welch is still in jail, and will stay there until his hearing Thursday morning. Meanwhile, customers flocked to their beloved pizza shop.
The cure for rainy days like Tuesday: Stay inside and stock up on comfort food. But supporters of Comet Ping Pong weren’t going to let a little bad weather keep them away. “I love Comet and I was eager to be one of the first to come in,” says Jackie Greenbaum, one of the first customers at the door.
Tuesday’s opening wasn’t about the food, although that’s certainly a draw here: “I want some pizza,” says Greenbaum.
Tuesday evening is all about solidarity. “I used to work for James back when Comet first opened,” says Trevor Young, another customer. “He’s probably the most incredible boss I’ve ever had.”
Comet Ping Pong owner, James Alefantis was thrilled with the response at the opening. “I am completely overwhelmed and incredibly, incredibly touched by the support of our community here in Washington and around the world,” he says.
The ‘soft opening’ of sorts came on the heels of a very hard weekend, when an armed gunman came into the restaurant, reportedly to rescue children he thought were being held there as sex slaves in the basement. The conspiracy theories have been circulating online for weeks now. On Sunday it all came to a head. The restaurant was closed for a day to give employees much-needed time off, employees who acted heroically to help customers get to safety. “They inspire me every day,” says Alefantis.
Extra security is on hand at Comet Ping Pong Tuesday at the opening, as well as at neighboring spots to help with lingering nerves. Businesses on Connecticut Avenue nearby have continued to receive death threats. “We are all completely freaked out and appalled and disgusted, really,” says Greenbaum.
Tuesday, that much-needed comfort, came in the form of friends. “I love James, I love Comet,” says Young.
A “Stand with Comet” event will be held Friday at the restaurant from open to close. Already, more than 1,000 people have said they will attend.