Local restaurant works through heat as ‘service to community’ amid record heat, widespread closures

As Western Washington continues to smash heat-related records, restaurant owners are making the difficult decision to work through the heat or close down as communities finally reopen.

On Greenwood Avenue North, more businesses were closed than open Monday.

As patrons looked for places to find food and reprieve from the heat, every once in a while, they would come across a sign that read, “We will be closed Monday due to heat.”

“This is way too bad; I never want to see 110 again,” said Greenwood resident Jon Leland, who described the heat as “oppressive.”

He came to the downtown area to sit down, eat and escape the heat. Finding a place that was open, however, turned out to be a tall order.

That’s how Leland ended up at Hummus Café.

“It was open, and it was close to home,” he said.

He ate outside of the café in 100-degree weather.

Inside the restaurant, it was even hotter.

“It’s so hot!” said Naney Konswa as she stood next to her husband in front of the stove and a kebab that was rotating aside an open flame.

“In this area, I think it’s over 110 [degrees],” she said as she pointed to the space between her and her husband.

“Me and my husband, [we’re] brave people to open for hot weather,” she laughed.

Originally from Egypt, the Konswas are accustomed to the heat, so they chose to tough out the temps and keep their business open as a service to the community.

“It’s just [I] open for [my neighbors] to come. They support me all the time, so I tried to open for them also to support them on a day that’s so hot for them,” Konswa said.

Mondays are usually slow. But today, the phones rang off the hook. And while the orders changed, they never stopped coming in.

“They didn’t ask for soup. They didn’t ask for something hot,” Konswa said. “Most of the people — it’s gyro, falafel or salad.”

Limited options made for a busy day at Hummus Café, but Konswa said they didn’t stay open to do good business.

“It’s just that I’m thinking about [the community] because I know the people around us are closed,” she said.

Down the street at The Angry Beaver, sports fans tried to open the door at the hockey-themed watering hole, hoping to catch Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

“[I’m] kind of questioning why they would be closed if they’re a hockey bar,” a patron said after learning of the closure.

The big game could have brought big business. However, Tim Pipes, the owner of The Angry Beaver, said once he saw the forecast, keeping the doors closed wasn’t a question.

“We were going to be seeing temperatures over 130 degrees in the kitchen. It become a safety hazard at that point,” Pipes said.

“Mostly, it makes me sad for the fans that want to come out and watch because it is the go-to place to come and watch hockey,” said Pipes.

Pipes spoke via Zoom as he sat in his kitchen, trying to stay cool. He hopes his employees did the same.

“I appreciate my employees a lot, and I really have to take their well-being into consideration too,” he said. “It’s one thing to make money; it’s another thing to have somebody drop from heat exhaustion.”

Pipes announced the closure on the business’s Facebook page. He said the response from hockey fans was overwhelming.

“I’m blown away by the amount of support we’ve gotten out of the hockey fans. Most of the people saying great call, you know, keeping your employees safe,” he said.

Pipes said he is eager to get back to The Angry Beaver for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday.

Until then, Konswa is prepared to keep holding down the block.

“I hope everything [goes] good tomorrow and everything becomes better for all of the business to open again because I feel like I’m by myself,” she said.

The forecast calls for much cooler temperatures starting Tuesday. Still, if you hope to eat out, it is a good idea to call the restaurant first and make sure it is open.