As the rise of COVID-19 cases continues to alarm officials in Washington, one West Seattle restaurant is voluntarily taking a step back. Arthur’s — an all-day cafe that serves burgers, sandwiches, and quinoa bowls, and now various meal kits for takeout — recently announced that it would close its dining room just a couple of weeks after reopening it, out of overall concern over the coronavirus. The restaurant will keep limited outdoor seating available, as well as takeout services.
During phase two of Washington’s reopening plan, dining rooms in Seattle are allowed to have 50 percent capacity inside (and the same capacity outside) — and Arthur’s had reopened June 13 for limited dine-in service.
“We took the week to heavily deep clean every part of the restaurant, as well as to install plexiglass partitions between each of our booths,” owner Rebecca Rice tells Eater Seattle. “We measured and organized all seating to maximize the safety of our guests, we organized signs and traffic flow so that people would avoid crossing paths with a circular walking plan (think Ikea!), installed hand sanitizer stations all over the restaurant, put plant barriers between tables that did not have plexiglass, etc. It was an exhaustive effort that our very limited staff really stepped up to achieve.”
But even after all that meticulous preparation, and the majority of customers gracious with the new rules regarding mandatory face masks, Rice says she still didn’t feel comfortable keeping indoor dining going, particularly given recent instances of COVID-19 cases at West Seattle businesses. Duke’s Seafood recently had two employees test positive, as did the local Trader Joe’s. And so now Arthur’s will roll things back, sticking with some seating on the patio and takeout.
“We’re committed to the closure of our dining room until things get better,” Rice says. “This could honestly last through until we have a vaccination, though I hope we can stabilize by adhering to safer standards before that day.”
While there are plenty of restaurants in Seattle that have stuck with takeout and delivery (rather than open for limited dine-in options), Arthur’s is one of the rare instances of a restaurant closing for dine-in after already reopening, without having a confirmed COVID-19 case emerge. (Earlier this month, an employee at Fremont Brewing tested positive for the disease, and the brewery closed down for several days before reopening.)
But the move from Arthur’s reflects a growing unease that loosened restrictions may have to be tightened up again. On Tuesday, Snohomish County executive Dave Somers said that the area was in danger of reversing its reopening course in the midst of a recent spike in cases of the novel coronavirus, if things didn’t improve soon. King County’s COVID-19 metrics have not looked any more promising recently. Meanwhile, several states and cities around the country are closing down restaurants again as cases spike.
“I’m really hoping that exposure of these types of voluntary choices can help others understand how this virus is still taking over,” says Rice. “I would hope other restaurants follow suit here in Seattle.”
- Arthur’s [Official]
- West Seattle Restaurants: Arthur’s Decides to ‘Revert’ [West Seattle Blog]
- Where Restaurants and Bars Are Closing Again Across the U.S. [Eater]