Community pulls together for struggling restaurant amid coronavirus outbreak

SEATTLE -- The restaurant industry is in something of a free fall in the Seattle area with people avoiding public places in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. Some longtime establishments and big names have closed its doors for good and employees are getting laid off.

But some community members are pulling together to give their favorite restaurants business during this difficult time, including West Seattle's Peel And Press.

"It's a panic in the restaurant industry and retail industry right now," owner Dan Austin said.

Austin posted on the restaurant's Facebook page earlier this week that local businesses were struggling in the face of the outbreak, urging healthy customers to come on in and promising sanitary conditions. The response was overwhelming as neighbors crowded the restaurant the next day.

"It's stressful every night when I put my head down, are my employees going to continue to have a job, and to see these customers come out and care about this business and the employees, it just fills your heart, it's amazing to see," Austin said.

He said the crowded restaurant was the busiest he'd seen under this "new normal" of the new coronavirus outbreak. He also said they're working to accommodate customers who don't want to come in by providing a drive-up, carryout option. They already do carryout and say gift cards are also a good option to keep your favorite neighborhood establishment afloat during hard times.

"The restaurant industry is one of the biggest employers in Seattle, even though it's made up of all small, independent places," he said. "There's a lot of people who depend on folks coming out and ordering and having those jobs. Unemployment doesn't cover what they make and it's already a tough city to live in, so if you can please come out and support the people who provide you services. We need your help right now."