Opinion

Bridge closure has kept customers away

Wally’s World

Let’s face it, driving around the Kummer Bridge – whether via the Green River Gorge or the Whitney Bridge – has gotten to be a first-class pain in the butt and wallet, particularly if you have to drive it everyday, and the chuckholes on the detour routes surely don’t improve one’s disposition. Therefore, I’m happy to report that, barring some unforeseen emergency or problems, the bridge should be repaired and open to holiday traffic on or around July 4.

And that’s not a moment to soon for Karen Hatch, owner of the Krain Restaurant. Unless you’re living in a cave, you’ve probably seen the KING TV news report or read various newspaper stories (including a couple by this esteemed columnist) concerning the steep drop in business she’s experienced. She sometimes wonders if the restaurant can survive until the bridge re-opens.

But the Krain isn’t the only local business hurt by the closure. For instance, there’s the Hornet’s Nest. Co-owner Javier Ruiz used to cook at the Black Diamond Restaurant and, when he moved to Enumclaw to start his own dining room, many of his customers from the former eatery followed him to his new enterprise. Now they’ve stopped coming over here. The drive is just too big a hassle.

According to the owner of Trina’s espresso stand in the Masonic Hall parking lot, the bridge closure has had an enormous, “big time” effect on her business. Morning commuters used to buy their latte and then settle back for the drive into Renton and beyond. Now much of the detoured traffic no longer passes her stand and commuters often get their coffee on the other side of the river.

However, enterprises in Black Diamond seem to be even more seriously impacted than those in Enumclaw. Take for example, another espresso stand – the one in the parking lot outside the old Boondocks Tavern. In fact, the “In and Out Espresso” is the first business you encounter when driving cross the bridge toward Black Diamond. According to Marium and her numero uno employee, Tina, business has fallen 70 percent since the closure. Indeed! Someone please buy a cup of coffee from these folks.

Businesses in the town’s historical district, including the Black Diamond Restaurant and Bakery, the espresso stand, and the Black Diamond Deli and Pizza have also been hit hard. In the Morgansville area, Mama Passarelli’s dining room has noticed a drop in customers despite the fact that the detour route goes in front of the place.

“Come on over and buy a sandwich,” Ginger told me. “I need all the help I can get!”

In fact, all the operations I’ve mentioned – and many that I haven’t – will surely appreciate any nickels you throw their way. With a little luck, they hope to survive another month, until things return to normal.

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