Fears of state shutdown rekindled amid rising COVID-19 cases

Dan Austin is the owner of Peel and Press in West Seattle that has been doing takeout since the onset of the pandemic. His second restaurant in Burien, Flight Path, has been closed since the stay-at-home order kicked in back in March.

“I just started to try and reopen this place,” said Austin who is remodeling the interior and building outdoor patio seating to accommodate social distancing regulation.

It’s been nearly impossible for business owners to stay ahead of the coronavirus. For every week our economy was shutdown, there was another long list of businesses that closed permanently.

“Right now we’re rewriting our business plan every couple of days or weeks. We started making some monetary investments to build out some outdoor seating to do some interior remodel and refresh in here” said Austin. “My staff is my family. It’s heartbreaking because to us because those people allow me to have a business.”

Not one staff member or customer has been inside the restaurant for nearly four months, and now Austin fears the spike in cases could dial back the economy and his plans of reopening.

“[The governor] is running out of tools to throttle back the rise, and the next tool he has, I believe is shutting places back down and pulling back the capacity for businesses,” said Austin. “We’re going to really be figuring out what’s going to happen here in the next 10 to 15 days, and by that point it’s too late to dial back, wear masks and say we’re going to be getting through it.”

Austin is a firm believer of giving back to the community in which he does business. In March, Peel and Press provided free meals to first responders and people in need. Sadly, the West Seattle restaurant was burglarized during that tough stretch. He personally saw the community pull together and support each other, and he said that needs to happen again immediately.

“Starting now people have to step up and do the right thing to help out the community,” said Austin. “Do not argue with the staff that is just trying to learn how to redo their jobs in a completely new environment. There’s got to be patience with retail folks and shops reopening. This is new for everybody. If you truly support businesses and reopening the economy, put on a mask.”

Austin said, like him, business owners are just surviving right now. He’s not sure if his two restaurants can endure the ongoing economic crisis, especially not knowing how long it will last.