Tatiana Eremciuc demonstrates how to shred your ex at Capitol City Brewing Co. in 2015. (Courtesy of Al Chadsey)

An earlier version of this post linked Al Chadsey with the wrong Capitol City Brewing Co. location. The version below has been corrected.

Stuck on someone and not sure how you’re going to weather Feb. 14? Try shredding a photo of your ex.

At select bars, kickboxing studios and Hooters restaurants, the lovelorn can bring in photos of a former flame and drink, kick or eat away at the pain.

Al Chadsey, general manager of Capitol City Brewing Co.’s Shirlington location, says he hosted his first Shred Your Ex event in the 1990s when he owned Lulu nightclub in downtown Washington. (Lulu is no longer around, but Chadsey still runs his Shred Your Ex promotion at Capitol City, Friday to Sunday of Valentine’s weekend.)

“It started as a joke,” Chadsey says. Bar patrons bring in a photo, pop it in the paper shredder and then trade the remains for a free beer. In the photo above, Chadsey submitted himself to the shredder.

“These restaurants all discriminate against singles on Valentine’s Day,” he says, noting that Cap City will offer a prix fixe dinner for couples, “but we’re also gonna do things for people who didn’t quite make the grade.” Shred Your Ex will be happening at the Shirlington Cap City, but not the D.C. location.

“This is a way to put a smile on their face,” he says, “and have a lot of fun.”

Chadsey thinks he’s the first to host a Shred Your Ex event; he contributed the concept, he says, to a bar revitalization seminar, and the idea was then published in booklet to help bars and restaurant owners with promo ideas.

More recently and unconnected to Chadsey, Shred Your Ex has popped up on social media. Last February, a #ShredYourEx Twitter feed prompted people to share their shredded photos via Twitter or Instagram.

In the Washington area, a Germantown franchise of ILoveKickboxing.com is hosting its own Shred Your Ex event — only instead of shredding, kickboxers can tape a photo of an ex to a punching bag and then take out their anger with kicks, punches and grunts. It doesn’t have to be an ex, says Brian Mower of the Germantown studio. “Last year people brought in their boss’s picture, Metro tickets,” Mower offered as examples, “just something that aggravates them.” (There are Shred Your Ex classes available at 8:45 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Mower says.)

Hooters is also getting in on the game: At D.C.’s Chinatown location, for example, if you bring in an ex photo and submit it to the shredder, your second set of 10 chicken wings is on the house.

Instagram fiends, take note: All of these events require a tangible photo. That’s one thing print has over digital: Destruction is much more cathartic than hitting “delete” on a digital file.


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