On Labor Day, longtime greasy spoon Beth’s Cafe in Green Lake was bustling, with diners gathering to say a fond farewell — at least for the time being.
Last week, word spread via Reddit that the restaurant — which has been around since the 50s — was possibly closing permanently. Ownership attempted to put that rumor to rest, posting a Facebook message September 3 that said the post-Labor Day closure would only be temporary, a move made to ensure more sustainability in the long-term as it deals with economic hardships and other issues exacerbated by the pandemic. But it’s still unclear when (or where) a comeback might happen.
The Aurora Avenue diner has been an enduring classic, with its old school vibes and walls adorned with crayon drawings from customers. Over the decades it’s built a reputation for serving reliable comfort food 24/7, including a massive 12-egg omelette that garnered fame from TV shows like the Travel Channel’s “Man vs. Food.” In 2002, Port Angeles native and former tech worker Chris Dalton bought the place and “nudged it into steadier service without losing its more appealing quirks,” per one Seattle Times report.
But the future of the restaurant has been hazy for a while, with factors extending beyond the pandemic. In April 2020, Dalton died after a battle with pancreatic cancer about a year after he put the place up for sale, leaving his widow, Hazel, to take up the mantle. Beth’s Cafe carried for a few months when the pandemic first impacted the region in early 2020, then shut down last October, prompting initial rumors of a permanent closure.
The diner celebrated its reopening this July with modified hours, but according to a recent statement from Beth’s Cafe, “the rise in cases due to the Delta variant along with the resulting complications with food supply, increased food costs, modified hours and staff shortages” made staying open difficult. “Our plan now is to be back in 3-6 months — or whenever Covid is more under control.”
Even with that possibility, there seemed to be mixed messages (or, at the very least, miscommunication) over the past week between Beth’s Cafe ownership and staff. A Reddit post from a user purporting to be an employee said Hazel Dalton had sold the property and planned to shut down for good, giving workers only a few days’ notice. General manager Janelle Norviel confirmed to MyNorthwest that the property was, indeed, sold, and that — if the restaurant ever did reopen — it would need to be at a different location.
Over the past year and a half there have been Seattle institutions that have closed and been later revived, including Jules Maes Saloon in Georgetown, and most recently, the College Inn Pub in the U District — so it’s hard to count Beth’s completely out. Ownership said to keep an eye on the official Facebook page for updates. “A temporary pause in business operations is being made in an effort to ensure Beth’s long term viability,” read a statement. “This is a good sign — not a bad one.”
Eater Seattle reached out to both Beth’s Cafe and Norviel for more info, including clarification about the property sale, and will update this piece as more info comes in.