Struggling restaurants, businesses urge public to keep buying

SEATTLE — Small businesses in the Puget Sound region are seeing a hit in sales due to coronavirus. Some are closing while others are getting creative to keep their doors open.

According to software company Homebase, around 4 percent of Seattle restaurants have closed.

The famed Altura restaurant on Capitol Hill, which was named one of the region's best restaurants, and its sister restaurant, Carmello, are both shuttered due to a downturn in business.

Restaurateur Tom Douglas shut down 12 of his 13 restaurants, and places like El Gaucho have closed as well.

Another Seattle staple, Canlis, shut down their high-end dining room and got creative by opening a breakfast bagel shed, a burger drive-through for lunch, and a family meal dinner delivery service, in order to keep its workers employed.

The closures come as owners urge people to still buy to help keep staff paid.

Shota Nakajima just opened a new restaurant, Taku, on Capitol Hill. Though he’s worried about his businesses, he’s more concerned for his employees.

"Tip extra to the people who are working tonight. Give a little extra. They have bills to pay. I have to keep the lights on, so any kind of help would be super helpful,” said Nakajima.

Tamara Murphy, co-owner of Terra Plata, isn't hiring the nearly 30 seasonal employees she usually hires this time of year to staff her Capitol Hill restaurant. In fact, she's worried she may have to lay workers off because business is down drastically.

John Howie owns four restaurants on the Eastside, including one on the Microsoft campus that is currently closed because of coronavirus.

He's doing everything he can to keep the other three open.

“Our position that we want to take every safety measure possible to make our guests comfortable and meet what really is being mandated by the state and the governor and the King County health department so that we can help quell the spread of this disease,” said Howie.

So far, the state and the City of Seattle have launched loan and unemployment support programs for small businesses. And Seattle says it will give leeway on utility and tax payments.