Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s bombshell announcement Sunday and Monday to close all restaurants, bars, barbershops, gyms, theaters, and clubs has some Plateau businesses wondering if they’ll be able to re-open by the time the coronavirus storm passes by.
Currently, businesses affected by Inslee’s executive action are set to re-open March 31, though it’s unknown if Inslee will extend his order to a later date. It’s also unclear if Inslee will broaden his order and shut other “nonessential” business like retail and other services.
But so long as businesses have a way to stay open, the Enumclaw Chamber of Commerce is encouraging residents to support them in any way they can.
“Based on the current information we have, which changes by the moment, we are doing the best we can to support commerce in our community. We are also seeing our community members coming out in force to support their friends and neighbors who own businesses locally,” the Chamber’s Director of Public Relations and Events Kerry Solmonsen wrote in an email. “As things change, we will do our best to update you on all things Enumclaw and the surrounding areas.
“Stay calm. Take care of yourself and your family. Get your information from credible sources, like the CDC — not social media. Follow the guidelines that are being set forth to protect you and the rest of the country. If you can, get some take-out from one of our restaurants or coffee shops, or buy an online gift card from one of our retailers,” she continued. “Our businesses are doing the best they can to serve our community and continue to pay their employees, they also are doing everything they can to minimize risk… We will get through this together, and your Chamber will do everything in its power to support commerce and community.”
SOME RESTAURANTS CONSIDERING NEW SERVICES
Flexibility appears to be key for various venues surviving the next few weeks, but nothing is certain anymore.
As of Monday, March 16, The Local was still open for business, but only for walk-in and take-out — no sitting to enjoy that morning cup of joe.
Even so, owner Amy Lundeen is optimistic that her business will be able to weather these temporary changes.
“This will be tough, even when things get back to normal. It’s going to take a long time for us to recover,” she said. “But we’ll figure a way.”
A lot of her optimism appears to be banking on the fact that most — if not all — of Enumclaw’s businesses financially support countless activities and events around the Plateau, and that its residents will reciprocate during these coming weeks.
“We donate to just about everything we can possibly donate to, so I’m really hoping… that [people] will give us support,” Lundeen continued.
Staying open to serve coffee to-go isn’t much of a change for The Local, but it’s a big shift for local restaurants, which are weighing the benefits and risks of doing takeout and curbside service.
The Mint’s Olivia Megargle said she’s still contemplating how she wants to move forward.
“We’re going to have to take every single day as it comes and be diligent about making the best choices so we can have the resources to re-open,” she said, adding that she hasn’t come to a decision yet about what services she may still want to offer local residents. “It’s risky, even to do that. With profit margins being so thin in the restaurant industry anyway, we may gear up for that, buy product for that, get staff for that, and have nobody take advantage of it, because everybody is freaking out and staying home.”
Down the street, Kelly Bauer of Kelly’s Restaurant and Lounge has already made her decision, going so far as to even start delivering.
“We started a delivery service — lunch, dinner, [and] we have our off-premise license, so we can deliver bottled wine and bottled beer,” Bauer said. “People have asked if that is a temporary or permanent solution, and we’ll just see. We’ll see what the market does.”
Delivering food also means that Bauer can keep on more employees than she might have had to lay off otherwise, since they can be taken off their regular serving and hosting duties to drive.
Unfortunately, these options other businesses have don’t apply to local watering holes, and Cole Street Brewery owner Sean McDonald knows he’s in a real tight spot, and re-opening at the end of March is a slim possibility.
“All my stuff doesn’t stop. All my insurance payments, my rent payments. Right now, if I still have to have all the money that’s going out, I can’t,” he said, adding that he hopes Washington will follow Italy’s example and put off mortgage payments. “If that happens, I guess. I feel like I’ll still make it, but it’s going to be extremely hard, and put me personally in a huge issue.”
A number of his loyal regulars have been suggesting ways McDonald can stay open by offering other services, including taking over the parking lot and serving people in their cars — an idea McDonald shot down immediately, for a number of obvious reasons.
At the moment, Cole Street Brewery and Fill’s Growlers are offering to continue offering gift cards and filling growlers to-go, though they ask you contact then at least 10 minutes in advance; Cole Street can be called or texted at 253-951-6656, and Fill’s at 253-457-3859.
RETAIL SCENE UP IN THE AIR
The specter of more business closures is likely heavy on retailer’s minds, but until Inslee takes further steps, many said they’ll squeak by.
Before restaurants were ordered closed, Melissa Oglesbee — owner of Enumclaw’s Nothing Fancy and a councilwoman in Black Diamond — said she understands why people are hesitant to come out and shop.
“Who’s out shopping? If they’re not making money, why would they be spending it?” she said. “But I hope. I hope and pray.”
Olgesbee’s broken down how many sales she needs to make per day in order to stay open by the end of the month.
“If I can make it within that $100 to $200 range a day, I can maintain my bills, my power, and make sure I have rent,” she said. “We’re skating the line… every purchase counts.”
Oglesbee added that she has been passing the time by deep-cleaning the store, using products from Natures Inventory.
Finally, she’s continuing her new trend of marking 25 percent off various products on Mondays to try and entice people to shop, or at the very least, visit and break up the monotony.
Down the street, Jill Snover at Oh Baby is also feeling the lack of shoppers in her clothing store, since March tends to be a busy month for her.
“People have the tax money, and that usually helps us come tax time in April, so that’s going to have a huge impact on everybody,” she said. “I’m OK for now. I see it being OK, but it’s not going to be good.”
In order to encourage people to support multiple local businesses, Snover added, she’s been giving discounts to her customers if they can show a receipt from a purchase they made elsewhere in town.
CANCELED, POSTPONED EVENTS AND PROGRAMS
First, the Enumclaw Expo Center appears to be doing its best to keep its events going. Last weekend was both the Bridal Showcase open house and the Enumclaw Gun Show, and the Expo Center kept track of how many people were entering and leaving both events, so no more than 250 people, visitors and vendors included, were ever gathered at one time.
Unfortunately, the 253 Corn-hole Tournament, scheduled for March 27 – 29, has been canceled.
The only other major event that appears to have continued without a hitch was last Saturday’s Leprechauns Night Out pub crawl.
The Enumclaw Chamber of Commerce’s St. Paddy’s 5K was called off last Saturday, and the March 28 Beer Walk has also been postponed until June 13. The Chamber’s monthly meeting was canceled too, and the March Chamber Social is being rescheduled to a later date. Even the visitor center will be shut down to visitors.
The third annual Samsarafest, which was to host the festival of healing at a new location in town for the first time, has been moved from March 20 – 22 to sometime in August.
Even smaller community meetings and events have been put on hold; the March 18 community meeting about affordable housing and the Danish Sisterhood’s March 28 aebleskiver breakfast have all been postponed.
Both the King County and Pierce County library systems have announced they are closing all buildings; King County said their plan is to re-open on April 13, whereas Pierce County has not release a potential re-opening date.
Some April events are still hoping to go through as planned, since Inslee’s ban on public gatherings lifts at the end of March, although he also said it’s very likely the ban could continue into next month.
Even Crystal Mountain Resort is closed until further notice, with no current re-open date; visit www.crystalmountainresort.com for updates and more information.
The upcoming Sasquatch Rendevous event is canceling its in-person programs, organizers will still host the event by live-streaming presenters on April 4 and 5. A spokeswoman added all presenters are still on board for the event. To get access to the live stream, tickets must be bought at www.sasquatchrendezvous.com/.
Finally, it’s been reported the annual Daffodil Parade is still tentatively planning on heading through Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner, and Orting on April 4, but that’s all dependent on whether Inslee decides to extend his ban on public gatherings.