Are Washington Restaurants Closed

Daniel Brown
• Friday, 15 January, 2021
• 8 min read

The governor recently extended COVID-19 restrictions, including the indoor dining ban, through Monday, Jan. 11. “We need to get those product orders in,” said Josh Wade, owner of Bark, a Rescue Pub.

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(Source: www.travelerstoday.com)


While waiting for updates from the state, their employees are dealing with the stress of constantly being on standby. If Governor Inslee announces that indoor dining is allowed to return, it would be a relief for places like Bark.

He and his wife Trudy discussed new concerns about the pandemic in a public address Thursday, urging all Washingtonians to cancel holiday gatherings through the end of the year. In King County alone, there has been an average of more than 400 cases a day and hospitalizations have increased dramatically over the past week.

Nine months into a pandemic, restaurants and bars in Washington have been in this spot before, but no doubt the rollbacks will have a significant impact. Inslee addressed the economic toll COVID-19 measures have taken, and committed an additional $50 million to help businesses and workers with a combination of grants and loans, although details weren’t revealed yet.

All K-12/higher education, health care, and childcare are exempt from the new restrictions and will follow current guidance. Retail stores, including farmers markets, allowed up to 25% indoor capacity.

Table size for outdoor dining is limited to a maximum of six (6) people and two (2) households. Indoor receptions, wakes or similar gatherings remain prohibited.

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(Source: austin.eater.com)

Indoor recreation and fitness for low-risk sports (dance, no-contact martial arts, gymnastics, climbing) are permitted for practice and training in groups of no more than five (5) athletes. Appointment-based fitness/training is allowed for 45-minute maximum session with no more than one (1) customer/athlete per room or, for large facilities, per 500 soft.

Indoor entertainment establishments such as aquariums, theaters, arenas, concert halls, gardens, museums, bowling alleys, trampoline facilities, wardrooms and event spaces are open for private rentals/tours of individual households up to six (6) people. Outdoor entertainment establishments such as zoos, gardens, aquariums, theaters, stadiums, event spaces, arenas, concert venues and rodeos can be open for ticketed events with groups of up to ten (10) people from two (2) households.

Jay Inslee on Sunday announced new restrictions on businesses and social gatherings for the next four weeks as the state continues to combat a rising number of coronavirus cases. Starting at 11:59 p.m. Monday, a host of businesses must close their indoor services, including fitness facilities and gyms, bowling centers, movie theaters, museums, zoos and aquariums.

While weddings and funerals can still occur, starting Tuesday, ceremonies are limited to no more than 30 people and receptions are prohibited. Under the new rules, only outdoor visits will be allowed at long-term care facilities and religious services will be capped at either 25% indoor occupancy or 200 people, whichever is fewer.

All of Washington’s 39 counties have been paused in either the second or third phase of a four-stage reopening plan that began in early May to lift restrictions on businesses and other activities. Wilcox said the Legislature should be involved in help for small businesses, and Senate Republican leader Mark Schooler issued a written statement calling for a special session.

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(Source: www.latintimes.com)

In recent days, Inslee and health officials had warned that new restrictions were likely in order to slow the trajectory of new cases and to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. On Thursday night, Inslee and his wife, Trudy, made a statewide televised plea to the public to forego gatherings and holiday travel plans.

And on Friday, Inslee joined the governors of California and Oregon in issuing travel advisories urging people entering or returning to their states to self-quarantine to slow the spread of the virus. Anthony Anton, president and CEO of the Washington Hospitality Association, warned that the restrictions put at risk the jobs of more than 100,000 employees, right before the holidays.

“At every step, our industry has partnered with the governor’s office and public health agencies, and the data shows our efforts are working,” he said in a written statement Sunday, noting that less than 1% of coronavirus cases have been traced to restaurants. Washington Governor Jay Inslee introduced a series of new COVID-19 restrictions over the weekend to crackdown on his state’s spiraling Coronavirus surge; placing new rules on restaurants, bars, retail stores, churches, and food markets.

“Inslee announces new coronavirus restrictions, including the closure of indoor dining, putting a limit on retail occupancy (including grocery stores) and limiting occupancy of churches, weddings and funerals,” reports Seattle’s King 5 news. Nearly 7,000 residents in North Carolina were told via text message last week that they tested positive for the Coronavirus despite not actually having contracted the disease.

But the results were incorrect due to a technical error by Health Space, the company they use for contact tracing, according to a statement on the county’s website,” reports Fox News. “An error during routine maintenance last Friday resulted in a county data vendor sending erroneous texts and email messages to people saying they were positive for COVID-19,” the statement on the county website said.

washington restaurants onlyinyourstate
(Source: www.onlyinyourstate.com)

“Very quickly we began to work with the vendor to understand the issue and make sure that it did not continue. Once corrected we were told that 6,727 text messages and 541 emails were sent to individuals who were already in their system.

We then worked with the vendor to send a corrected text/email to all that received the erroneous one,” the email stated in part. The United States Navy Hospital Ship Comfort arrived in New York Harbor Monday morning to help the nation’s largest city cope with the ongoing Coronavirus crisis.

“This great ship behind me is a 70,000-ton message of hope and solidarity to the incredible people of New York, a place I know very well, a place I love,” said President Trump as the ship left Virginia. Andrew Cuomo announced that public schools in the city and in several other counties would be closed in order to slow the disease’s spread.

Jay Supple is the CEO of Supple Restaurant Group; he owns four restaurants in the Fox Valley and had to close his fifth establishment, that he was the franchise owner of, due to the pandemic. Restaurant owners are saying it’s on the government to help them through this pandemic because they are the ones setting guidelines that hurt their business.

Social distancing guidelines and slower consumer spending could cut top-line revenues in half, restaurant owners told Bi snow, and in an industry with already slim margins, that will not be enough for many businesses to survive. Brokers expect the wave of closings will increase the retail vacancy rate and shift market dynamics in the tenants’ favor.

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(Source: www.facebook.com)

This could bring down rents in the long run as landlords look to fill empty spaces, creating new opportunities for well-positioned restaurateurs to expand. Restaurant owners will have to restock kitchens, buy personal protection equipment and sanitation materials and re-train staff with new social distancing procedures that will likely be required to open.

Street sense Managing Director Jay Children, whose firm released a “Relaunch Toolkit” for restaurant owners Monday, estimated reopening would cost between $15K and $30K, depending on the size of the operation. Street sense has been working with restaurants to redesign spaces to create 6 feet of distance between customers, and he said it will likely lead to a 50% to 60% drop in capacity.

A pair of restaurant layouts showing the lost seating capacity from social distancing measures. “You’re opening just to break even at best until things normalize,” said Eastman principal Philippe Lanier, whose firm owns a large D.C. retail portfolio and who also invests in several restaurant businesses.

“There’s not a lot of reason to stay open other than your sheer love for the industry, because you want to try to preserve and recover maybe by the end of next year.” Big Chief, a bar Dawson co-owned in Ivy City, had already been struggling and was forced to close permanently because of the crisis, he said.

Fade Irish Pub, a popular haunt in Chinatown, announced this week it won't reopen. To prevent more closures, Dawson hopes landlords will reach agreements with restaurant operators to offer flexibility on rent even after the businesses reopen.

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(Source: www.seattlepi.com)

He said landlords could change restaurants rent payments to a percentage of monthly revenues, allowing them to start off with lower expenses and ramp back up as business returns to normal. “As we come back, that could work because that will give us a chance to grow with whatever business returns, and we’ll be able to sustain it,” Dawson said.

“If the landlord says ‘OK get out, I’ll re-lease the space,’ that's going to be time and money, and who knows how many people are going to stand in line to open restaurants ?” The District had 2,457 eating and drinking establishments as of 2018, according to the National Restaurant Association, and the industry employed over 65,000 people as of last year.

Monday, exactly six weeks after Mayor Muriel Bowser halted in-house restaurant service, she announced the launch of the Reopen DC Advisory Group. The restaurant committee, including celebrity chef José Andrés, Busboys and Poets owner Andy Shall, Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington CEO Kathy Bollinger and several other community members, will recommend strategies for safely opening food-service businesses.

The depth of the city’s restaurant closures remains to be seen, but brokers agree it will significantly increase the vacancy rate and change the dynamics of the retail real estate market. Rents in the restaurant industry are driven by a combination of the market’s vacancy rate and the amount of sales a business can expect to bring in, CARE Executive Vice President Michael Zachariah said.

Some restaurant owners in recent years have attributed their closures to D.C. landlords seeking higher rents than they could afford. But brokers say developers of new projects were offering generous deals to bring in restaurants as anchor tenants that could help the lease-up of their buildings.

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(Source: www.pinterest.com)

Whether in the form of lower rents or tenant improvement allowances, these deals represented a softening of the market, and retail brokers expect that trend to accelerate. Across the retail industry, a shift toward online ordering has led to a drop in demand for brick-and-mortar spaces that was already causing rents to come down, Lanier said.

Children said he expects to see well-capitalized restaurateurs with large portfolios begin to expand next year by opening in locations where less fortunate business owners had to close. Neighborhood Retail Group CEO Bethany Kaaba said she is representing an operator who owns several D.C.-area restaurants and is looking to expand in an Alexandria space where the current tenant is unlikely to renew its lease.

Dawson said he hopes landlords will see this market shift coming and offer more flexibility to keep their existing tenants from closing down. “Say all the landlords kick us out, we have back rent we can’t pay, we leave and then go prey on empty spaces that are available where we can get a better deal,” he said.

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