BOTHELL, Wash. - A lot of restaurants and businesses in the northwest continue to struggle during this pandemic, and many have closed up for good.
The city of Bothell is trying to keep that from happening downtown by shutting down Main Street to cars.
Concrete barricades have been up all summer, so the local restaurants on Main Street can offer outdoor seating. The initial plan was to open the street back up to car traffic in early September, but the city council has now pushed the deadline to the end of October.
“It has just made a world of difference,” said Jennifer Phillips, Bothell City Manager. “We hope it saved jobs, we hope it saved businesses, and we also hope it helps our community heal.”
Leigh Henderson, who has owned Alexa’s Café on Main Street for more than two decades, says she would be out of business if the council hadn’t taken action to shutting down the popular road and opening up outside seating.
“If that hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t be here,” said Henderson.
A lot of people still don’t feel comfortable eating inside a restaurant, but what they’ve found in Bothell, is that when you offer outdoor seating, folks will flock to the area.
“The energy on the street is amazing,” said Henderson. “The restaurants are full, bikes and scooters are going down the street, families with babies are walking and the dogs are sitting outside. People have found their hub. They’ve found their community.”
Henderson, and other restaurant owners, have started a petition to make the Main Street closure permanent. Phillips says there are still a lot of bus routes through the area, and when school is in session, students from several campuses nearby, including UW Bothell, drive through Main Street. It would take long-term and costly traffic studies to see if that a permanent shutdown is viable.
Henderson believes it’s worth the effort, and she’s already prepared for outdoor dining in colder temps, with heaters and tents surrounding her tables. She’s gone from closing her business for good, to expanding with the creation of outdoor dining outside her front door.
“We’ve been very successful since this came into our lives.