Restaurants reopen under Modified Phase 1, hoping customers are ready to eat out

SEATTLE -- Duke's Seafood is iconic in Western Washington. A symbol of the Pacific Northwest like the fresh seafood they serve. Still, they've never been forced to navigate uncharted waters of a three-month shutdown caused by a pandemic.

"With all this anxiety, not knowing when we’re going to open, but now we’re open," said co-owner Duke Moscrip.

Over the last two days, Duke's reopened their seven area locations.

For Duke and his son, co-owner John Moscrip, it's been like a long-awaited reunion welcoming back their workers.

Duke's Seafood owners John Moscrip (far left) and Duke Moscrip (far right) collaborate with Executive Chef Bill Ranniger before reopening the location in South Lake Union. It follows a three-month closure due to the economic shutdown caused by COVID-

“Ecstatic," said John Moscrip. "It’s so great! We’ve been waiting for this a long time and we’re ready to go.”

King County’s modified Phase One in the state's reopening plan allows restaurants like Duke's to accept 25% of their typical customer capacity indoors and 50% in outdoor dining areas.

Doing takeout during the shutdown didn’t make financial sense for Duke's, so for the first time in the restaurant's 43-year history, it temporarily laid off all of their staff.

Today, they brought back more than 70% of those workers and hope to be back to full-staff soon.

“We felt like we knew we were going to come back," said Duke's Executive Chef Bill Ranniger. "And one great thing about Duke’s is we’ve been around for 40 years.”

John Moscrip shared about their workers forced to file for unemployment benefits.

“It’s just nice to know they trusted us," Moscrip said. "That we were going to get back open because there are some restaurants, bars, and establishments that aren’t going to come back and that’s super unfortunate.”

For now, many restaurants will look a bit different.

At Duke's, there is no bar seating. All tables must be at least six feet apart. There is plexiglass dividers between the booths. All workers wear masks and gloves.

Duke's Co-owner John Moscrip shows off the changes at this restaurant to create six feet between tables.

“We’ve done everything you can possibly do to make people comfortable about their health,” said Duke Moscrip.

NFL Hall of Famer Warren Moon was one of the committed customers who showed up for the Duke's reopening.

“They’ve lost a lot," said Moon. "They’ve lost revenue. They’ve lost employees. This is a way to help start the process to get back to normal."

Customer Paul Mendez of Edmonds felt an obligation to support Duke's and other local businesses.

“For me, it’s the people behind the bar, it’s the staff, it’s these people that need help," Mendez said.  "And for me, if I can come out here and help, I want to do that.”

Duke's one of many local restaurants ready to serve, hoping people will be ready and willing to go out to eat.