Restaurants shift to takeout again as in-person traffic plummets
Just as local restaurants were starting to welcome more customers into their dining rooms across Sammamish, they took another COVID-19 hit due to the omicron variant. The newest mutation of the virus spreads even more rapidly than the delta variant, sending cases in King County to fresh records.
As diners stayed away, these businesses have shifted back to fulfilling takeout orders and adapting to a new wave of staff shortages.
Pine Lake Ale House, one of the few bars in Sammamish, has experienced an increase in takeout orders compared to dine-in over the last month.
“I would say that there was an increase in to-go vs. dine in and I think it’s also tied in with January traditionally being one of our slower months so it’s hard to say that there was a huge impact but there was a little one,” said owner Kevin Gattke.
A staffing shortage has also affected Pine Lake Ale House’s hours, forcing it to close on Mondays.
Gattke admitted that the restaurant has lost some money that cannot be recouped. But he is optimistic about the future, especially since mask mandates have been ending across the country, even in states run by Democratic governors.
“So I think once the rules get more relaxed more people will keep coming in but it’s hard to know for sure,” Gattke said.
Lebanese restaurant Tanoor has also faced a slowdown for in-person dining.
“People are a little more afraid to go out,” said Tanoor’s owner Wassim Fayed.
The restaurant experienced a big shift to takeout through third-party delivery services such as Uber Eats and Doordash, as well as customers calling in orders. From a staffing standpoint, they shifted some workers from the dining room towards packaging takeout orders.
For customers who are dining in, the Tanoor staff offers handouts with safety tips that they hope customers will follow.
“Asking them to please wear their masks anytime they are talking to their server, wear it when you go to the bathroom, and when you come and go entering the restaurant,” Fayed said.
Next door, Papaya Viet, a Vietnamese eatery, has also seen a sizable shift to takeout orders recently. The first few weeks of January have been tough.
“We cut almost everything out [from the menu] and went with just the core dishes like you can’t not have it and it is still okay for takeout,” owner Jacqueline Nguyen said.
Nguyen remains positive and hopeful that business will turn around.
“We appreciate all the support and we ask to continue to support us and the goal is that we are all gonna be here for each other,” she said.