Seattle, one of the most impacted cities in the nation
The impact of COVID has shaken our hometown, Seattle, and it's been so hard to see downtown turned into a ghost town, many of our beloved restaurants shuttered, and the general unrest in the city as unemployment and cases continue to rise.
When news of COVID first came to light, it seemed like we were holding our breath waiting for the moment the virus would reach our shores. Then on January 21st, 2020, the first case was confirmed in the United States, in Seattle, Washington. About a month later, on February 29th, the first COVID death was confirmed, also in the Seattle area. In the following months, the devastating consequences of COVID began to unfold, hitting every sector of society and propelling Seattle into a state of emergency.
Unemployment & strict shutdowns
Not only was Seattle hit first, it was hit hard. As of March 2020, Seattle saw an 87% surge in unemployment year over year, with 519,139 new unemployment claims filed through October (King County Public Health). It is estimated that the Seattle area has suffered $9 billion in lost gross business revenue during the first half of 2020 compared with the same period the year before (Puget Sound Business Journal), with small businesses being hit hard. With swift and strict closures across the state, and companies issuing work from home orders, restaurants, hotels, and bars were hit hard. In fact, the National League of Cities complied fiscal data which placed Washington state on a list of top 10 states with the most impacted cities in terms of revenue loss.
Restaurants are struggling
Over 40 restaurants have closed in the Seattle area because of the strain the pandemic has put on business operations. Jules Mae Saloon, a historic bar, permanently closed after 132 years, along with El Diablo Coffee Co., Tilth, Bastille Café and Bar, Trattoria Cuoco, and many more. The latter was owned by notable Seattle Chef Tom Douglas, who stated that his business was down by as much as 90% (Seattle Times). With restrictions against large gatherings, most restaurants and bars have pivoted to offering alternatives for dining in from CSA boxes, drive-through events, to reheated meals. However, most restaurants are still struggling to stay afloat without the ability to operate at full capacity. For example, Bar Taglio and Café Hitchcock recently closed after months of giving takeout a try. Chef and owner Brendan McGill stated that his restaurants only rung up a few hundred dollars in sales per day over that time, “making the cost of keeping them open too prohibitive” (Eater Seattle).
Shutdowns have resumed
Earlier this week, Seattle reinstated strict dining restrictions with COVID cases doubling over the last few weeks. The new restrictions allude to the unpredictability of the coronavirus as it continues to sweep the nation. Small business and restaurants are doing the best they can to stay afloat, but without a clear path ahead, it’s become increasingly more important for us to look after ourselves and our communities.
With Seattle as our hometown, it’s been heart-wrenching to witness the ups and downs of this year, but one thing is for certain. Seattle is filled with spirit, pioneers, and perseverance, and we will continue to come together to lift each other up during these tough times. How can you help? It's more important than ever to shop small this holiday season and continue to support your local businesses. We created our TROVE Holiday Gift Box to pay homage to Seattle's rich culture and help lift up some of the amazing small businesses in this area.