Restaurants set up outdoor tents, offer takeout as second shutdown begins

THURSTON COUNTY, Wash. — Restaurant owners are taking extreme measures to stay open following Gov. Jay Inslee’s latest lockdown.

Workers at the Oyster House in Olympia have done everything they can think of to make guests eating out feel safe.

“We just have to listen and adapt and overcome. That’s the only way we’re going to survive these times,” said Brandon Lawin, Oyster House regional manager.

Employees put up a new tent Tuesday, complete with propane heaters, just in time to comply with the governor’s new restrictions.

“It’s been quite a scramble because obviously, we’re on a very limited staff now as well,” said Lawin.

Restaurants in Pierce County are in the same boat, including the Spar.

Many restaurants rely on takeout because indoor dining is no longer allowed, which is why Pierce County Council has given them an extra boost.

“We’re fortunate in Pierce County. We had our Restaurant Rally program underway. We were able to pivot it to provide even more support for our restaurants in light of the shutdown,” said Bruce Dammeier, Pierce County executive.

They’re reimbursing the nearly 300 restaurants participating in Restaurant Rally 100% of their gross sales now through Thursday. Restaurants participating in the program initially were reimbursed 50%. Guests who buy takeout from Pierce County restaurants receive a 30% discount.

“We are encouraging folks to still go out to place those orders, to support their local restaurants, and to buy gift cards for their restaurants,” said Dave Morell, Pierce County council member. “Small business, we’re family, and to have this happen right around the holidays is devastating to a lot of individuals.”

Also, the City of Tacoma is putting a cap of 15% on the amount third-party delivery services, like Door Dash, can charge restaurants for their services.

“The little bit we can get we need right now,” said Skylar Hernandez, The Spar kitchen supervisor.

With a lot riding on the line, restaurant workers hope their hard work helps keep the lights on until the shutdown lifts.

“Any delusions of grandeur of making a profit right now at a restaurant, that’s just not going to happen, but if we could break even, that would be really awesome,” said Lawin.