Bars celebrate newfound capacity, extended hours as COVID restrictions lift statewide

Bars new and old are celebrating as COVID restrictions lift across the state, allowing them to return to full capacity with extended hours.

Sports fans in Greenwood packed the local hockey-themed watering hole, The Angry Beaver, as they sat down to watch game two of the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday.

The masks were off, the bar was packed, and the crowd was going wild.

After a long 15-months of pandemic-related closures and restrictions, this sight was enough to bring a tear to even the toughest hockey fan’s eye.

“I saw people sitting at the bar, I told people, I cried almost like oh my god, it’s so peaceful,” Scott Smilanich chuckled.

Smilanich is a regular and former employee at The Angry Beaver — he stopped working there after COVID forced closures, but he never stopped supporting the owner, Tim Pipes.

Having started the business, you could say Pipes is the original “angry beaver.”

“We never thought this was going to end, so I’m over the moon to see what we’re seeing tonight,” Pipes said as he stood outside the crowded bar off Greenwood Avenue North.

He was able to stay afloat over the course of the pandemic, thanks to a fundraising page that was started for him by a friend. The money supported his employees and kept him in business.

“The GoFundMe page raised 45-thousand dollars, that’s how much people love this place,” Pipes said.

On Wednesday, they saw a full-capacity bar for the first time since March 2020. Pipes said it wasn’t quite like the old days, but he couldn’t help but get excited as he heard his patrons cheer throughout the game.

“The world is returning to normal again and I get to make all of these fans happy so, I’m over the moon about it, this is what I want… people screaming for hockey and cheering their team on!” He smiled.

The same restriction-related joy could be felt on Second Avenue and Blanchard — the location of a brand-new bar, Belltown Provisions.

“I’m so excited, it’s been much too long, I can’t wait,” co-owner Joey Joyce said with a grin. “Just for the interactions with the guests and that sense of community, I can’t wait.”

Joey and his business partner, Jon, have been working to open their doors since November. They strategically planned around when they thought the restrictions would be lifted.

“In some sense we had to just hope for the best and assume it was going to open at some point and just do what we could,” Joey shrugged.

“Were you guys waiting until the restrictions lifted on purpose?” asked KIRO-7 reporter Elle Thomas.

“Yeah, there definitely wasn’t a sense of urgency knowing it was going to be restricted when we fully opened,” said Joey.

Initially, they had a target date of July 1, to coincide with the end of the restrictions. With a few days’ worth of setbacks and delays, they are now hoping to open for restriction-free business by July 6.

“Just the interaction, the liveliness of a space, like this is what I miss — people okay with interacting with each other and socializing, it’s going to be great,” said Joyce.