Years-long bridge closure hits West Seattle businesses with double whammy

Shops and restaurants are already struggling to survive because of the pandemic. Now, businesses in West Seattle are getting slammed with another major blow.

Infrastructure problems mean the West Seattle bridge will be closed until at least 2022 -- cutting off shops from many of their customers for years.

But shops are getting creative to figure out how to make it through this new crisis. Many have moved as much as possible to online sales and come up with new products. But the bridge closure means these pandemic tactics may be needed for years to come.

“Just going to have to cope with this, adapt, innovate,” said Matt Vaughan, the owner of Easy Street Records & Café in the West Seattle Junction.

He’s now also the delivery driver, bringing people food and music all over King County, and shipping albums worldwide.

“We’re hustling you know, I’m out in this van every day,” Vaughn said. A sign on the van says, “Rock ‘N’ Roll never quits.”

“We gotta rise up to the challenge. You can’t let the big dogs run over you,” Vaughn said.

A half-block down is West 5 restaurant. They’re doing takeout, but is also getting creative with what you can buy.

“We’ve come up with a Mai Tai survival kit. We thought people might need a little island flavor to get them through these trying times,” said Dave Montoure, owner of West 5. The Mai Tai kit comes with all the liquor and ingredients – including some secret ones – you need to make six servings of the restaurant’s well-known cocktail.

These business owners say there’s a lot of community support.

“Just an outpouring of neighbors coming out,” Montoure said.

But the pandemic has forced both Easy Street Records & Café and West 5 to lay off most or all of their staff.

Then the fiasco with the West Seattle bridge happened. Inspectors noticed spreading cracks and shut it down three weeks ago.

Now the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) says if repairs can happen, the bridge would still be closed until 2022. And that closure would be longer if the bridge needs to be replaced.

It’s a lifeline now gone for the 80,000 people in West Seattle.

“It’s shocking,” Montour said. “We’re very concerned about the impacts,” he said.

KIRO7 recorded the major detour route with a GoPro.