In what may be the biggest dining shakeup yet during the novel coronavirus outbreak in Seattle, chef Tom Douglas revealed that he is closing the majority of his restaurants in the city temporarily. Sales have reportedly declined up to 90 percent across the board at the properties — which includes the iconic Dahlia Lounge and popular pizzeria Serious Pie — due to COVID-19’s impact. The only one of the restaurateur’s 13 properties that will remain open is Dahlia Bakery, which has a contract with nearby Hotel Andra. The rest will be shut down for approximately 8-12 weeks, effective after dinner service Sunday.
According to the Seattle Times, servers and cooks at Tom Douglas Seattle Kitchen — a company that employs approximately 800 people total — were told they would be laid off, then directed to file for unemployment. Douglas told the Times he couldn’t afford to pay out severance, but claimed he would rehire the workers when he reopens the restaurants, although the exact dates are still unclear. A spokesperson said that the company would assess conditions after the aforementioned period of time.
This decision comes in the wake of major COVID-19 related changes to Seattle life, including Amazon and other major companies advising their employees to stay home through at least March in order to limit the potential spread of the virus, and local authorities restricting events of more than 250 people. The latter will affect the Paramount Theater, SAM, the 5th Avenue Theater, Benaroya Hall, and the Moore Theater, along with just about every other event venue in Seattle. Many restaurants, such as Douglas’s Carlile Room, which is right across from the Paramount, depend on theater traffic for revenue. The majority of the chef’s other restaurants are also near major tourist and commerce hubs in Belltown, South Lake Union, Downtown, and Pike Place Market.
The temporary closings also come during uncertain times overall for the James Beard Award winning chef. Late last year, Douglas closed three of his properties inside the nearby Via6 apartment building — TanakaSan, Assembly Hall, and Home Remedy. He also scaled back service at Dahlia Lounge, eliminating brunch and lunch in mid-February. Two days ago, he posted a message on Instagram encouraging diners to come out to area restaurants, “whether it’s in person, ordering online or to-go,” and mentioned that all his restaurants had adjusted their hours of operations. But after reassessing things over the past couple of days, the decision was made to just shut most everything down, for now.