New outdoor dining tents stolen before Burien cafe could use them

KING COUNTY, Wash. — The owners of Salmon Creek Cafe said that before they could use their new outdoor dining tents to serve customers during the ongoing pandemic, the shelters were ripped from the ground and stolen earlier this week.

The theft occurred in the cafe parking lot located beside Ambaum Blvd SW.

“We came in Tuesday morning at 6:30 a.m. and the tents were gone,” said E.J. Kim, who owns the cafe with her husband, Douglas Gundlach. “Just, gone,” she said. The theft was not captured on surveillance video.

Kim said they applied and received a permit from the city of Burien to install the tents, a financial lifeline for the restaurant during the state’s current temporary ban on indoor dinning.

“With the tents, we were hoping to get back to like that 70-to-80%,” said a frustrated Douglas. “Just down. Down about it all.”

The restaurant remains open for to-go orders and deliveries. The owners said the tents would have allowed them to serve more than a dozen customers in their parking lot. The shelters were anchored to the ground with spikes.

Last month, the couple said they were close to shutting down amid a slump in sales.

“We let two employees go,” Kim said. “Really thinking, ‘Can we continue to stay open?’”

Salmon Creek Cafe then received a lifeline from social media and a new stream of customers eager to help keep the doors open without indoor dining. Loyal regulars also pitched in.

“We can lend you the patio heaters if you need heaters,” Kim said, describing the support they received from customers. “So it was a lot of the community wanting to keep the cafe going.”

Kim and Douglas are banking on continued community support to see them through this latest setback. The couple said there are no plans to replace the stolen tents.

“We can’t afford to set it up again,” Kim said. “That’s impossible.”

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