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What Will Seattle Restaurants Need in 2021 to Help Recovery Efforts?

Local experts weigh in on what the next year may bring as restaurants continue to struggle during the pandemic

An outdoor restaurant patio overlooking the Puget Sound on a sunny day, with closed red umbrellas
Many Seattle restaurants have been hanging on by a thread for most of 2020.

Eater usually ends December by surveying local food writers on various restaurant-related topics that sum up the previous 12 months. But 2020 wasn’t like any other year. Since the pandemic caused so much upheaval in the dining scene, it seemed appropriate to include health care professionals and a science writer on the panel this time around to get their perspectives on COVID-19 impacts.

Previous entries include the standout takeout meals of 2020, adjustments that may have staying power, and closures that hit the hardest. Here, the various experts weigh in on this question: What will restaurants need in 2021 to help recovery efforts?

The Senate needs to get their shit together and pass the House’s RESTAURANTS Act, which will grant aid to independently-owned restaurants that helps cover the difference between their 2019 and 2020 revenue. Separately, restoring the expired $600 extra unemployment insurance benefits would help. A society needs to care for itself in emergency times, and this is one 10-months-long-and-counting natural disaster. The pressure so many of us feel to keep our favorites going via takeout and gift cards is intense, yet our efforts aren’t enough. Jill Lightner, food writer and editor

Those who can afford to need to order takeout as much as possible to help those restaurants they love survive. We’ve been ordering in twice a week at least, and then eating cheaper at home than usual (no fancy ingredients, lots of beans and rice, soups, roasted vegetables, etc.). Restaurants (small, independent ones) and workers need federal assistance. — Ellen Kuwana, freelance science writer and editor, founder of WeGotThisSeattle, an initiative that feeds frontline workers by partnering with local restaurants

Federal assistance obviously. That restaurants were so overlooked and unsupported by the federal government was exasperating and maddening. But still keep supporting restaurants! Buy deep and freeze leftovers! Tip as much as you can! — Frank Guanco, food and wine writer, Seattle Refined

As diners, we need to continue to order takeout from local (non-chain) restaurants and tip well. As a society we need to support small businesses and pay our essential workers, including restaurant workers. Our servers need to get priority access to vaccinations. We also need to fix our broken health care system to make sure that everyone has access to healthcare and universal health insurance. — Andrew Wright MD, general surgeon

Sufficient government funds …eight months ago. — Allecia Vermillion, editor-in-chief, Seattle Met