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Mercer Island Restaurants Operating in a "Ghost Town" [UPATED]

Many restaurants are taking a hit from the city's water boil advisory.


Facing lost revenue and demoralized staff, Mercer Island restaurants are taking a hit after being temporarily closed due to the city's E. coli contaminated water. Last week, Public Health - Seattle & King County ordered that 62 restaurants close after the island's water tested positive for E.coli. About half of those restaurants have since reopened and are serving limited menus.

Thirty-year-old Roberto's was shuttered for four days last week. Owner Kris Robbins tells Eater that the pizza shop reopened after a King Co. Public Health employee examined the entire space. Any food that must be washed before use, including raw meat and produce, cannot be served until the water boil advisory is lifted. Even with precautions, Robbins says business has been slow and she's lost "quite a bit" of revenue. "It's like a ghost town," Robbins says. "It's like, ‘why even bother being here?' But we want to support the community."

Bennett's, the restaurant owned by Kurt Beecher Dammeier (Beecher's, Liams, Pasta and Co.) was also closed for several days last week. It reopened Saturday night with a limited menu, "but nobody came in," manager Ryan Shimabukuro tells Eater. When asked about staff morale, Shimabukuro says, "It's terrible. They're not making any money." Like Robbins, Shimabukuro says Mercer Island is like a ghost town: "Over the weekend there wasn't anybody out. Everybody is obviously leaving the island."

UPDATE 10/8: Mercer Island lifted its water boil advisory today; per a notice: "Restaurants may reopen after speaking directly with a Health Inspector from Public Health - Seattle & King County and following completion of step-by-step procedures."