SEATTLE - November 23rd marks the start of week two since Governor Jay Inslee announced new Covid-19 restrictions in Washington state.
About $70 million in grants are available to businesses, but a hospitality industry expert said it’ll only cover a mere two days of a four-week shutdown.
Restaurants, alone, are expected to lose $800 million during this difficult four-week stretch, according to the President and CEO Anthony Anton of the Washington Hospitality Association during a news conference on Monday.
He was joined by four state legislators who are advocating for financial support to industries that are hurting this next legislative session.
“We’re going to have people’s holidays ruined, their dreams ruined and they’re going to lose their jobs and because they’ve already used up their unemployment, they’re going to have a real problem accessing benefits,” said Sen. Karen Keiser (D) WA District 33.
“I think on day one of the 2021 session, one of the highest priorities I know for our budget team, because we’re already working on it, is what can we do at the state level to provide some modicum of financial support for industry sectors and especially the hospitality industry,” said Rep. Larry Springer (D) WA District 45.
The owner of a third-generation restaurant in Seattle has been adapting at every turn of this pandemic.
“My father back in the 70s started the restaurant,” said Theo Martin of Island Soul Rum Bar and Soul Shack. “My parents taught me that when you complain, unfortunately, it slows you down.”
Instead, Martin has been thinking creatively. He installed outdoor tables and heaters to serve diners food hot and fresh out of the kitchen.
The front doors have a VIP feel for customers who are walking up to pick up their to-go-order. Cocktails and beverages are ready for pickup in a sealed bottle.
Martin also remodeled the interior of his restaurant to be more Covid-friendly.
“This used to be one bench that went all the way down the wall, now we’ve put in booths,” said Martin as he showed Q13 News the tall benches that act as barriers between tables.
However, the timing was only on his side for two weeks before Inslee announced indoor dining was being closed again until at least mid-December.
“My job is to find out what can I do to keep the doors open, keep employees employed and to keep customers happy and that’s just every day,” said Martin. “People need to feed their soul, and one thing to entertain and make us feel good is to put food in our mouths, and for me it’s to watch people smile and enjoy what we do.”
Martin said he employs about a dozen staff members, and he is absolutely trying his best to avoid reducing staff through the tough days of the pandemic.