Business closures and changes in MLT after governor issues stay-at-home order

The closure sign for Mountlake Terrace restaurant Bahn Mi Bites includes some humor: “No money or toilet paper inside.”

Many Mountlake Terrace businesses are working to adjust their operations in light of Gov. Jay Inslee’s March 23 stay-at-home order aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Even after the governor issued his stay-at-home proclamation closing all businesses not considered essential for at least two weeks, restaurants were still allowed to continue takeout and delivery services. Additionally, people are still allowed to go outside, to grocery stores and to conduct essential business. 

Some businesses are participating in various community service activities in response to the outbreak. Getaway Tavern has offered free sack lunches to community members on a first-come, first-served basis until 1 p.m. for several days to assist families dealing with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Seaun Richards, owner of 44th Street Sliders, has initiated a campaign to provide meals to senior citizens who have been impacted by local senior center closures. For every meal purchased at the restaurant between March 20 and at least March 31, 44th Street Sliders will donate a hot meal to a senior. The current goal is to serve 1,500 meals, Richards said.

“I work with seniors and I used to be the president of Mountlake Terrace Senior Center. I know it’s hard for them to get around with everything being shut down,” Richards said. “We’re setting up to serve the first round of meals on Thursday and Friday at drive-through locations at the senior centers, where they can pick up the meals and take them home to eat.”

The 44th Avenue Barber Shop is also shut down under the governor’s emergency order closing non-essential businesses.

Many local businesses were forced to close down for the duration of time specified by the governor to comply with proper social distancing procedures. Affected MLT businesses include gyms, such as Fitness 19, and barbers, hair salons and nail salons like 44th Avenue Barber Shop. They are not able to offer in-person services until the state restrictions put in place for at least two weeks are lifted. 

Other businesses, such as restaurant Banh Mi Bites, have voluntarily decided to suspend all operations for the next several weeks in response to the viral outbreak. Bao Dinh, the owner of Banh Mi Bites, chose to remain closed until further notice.

“We could stay open for takeout and delivery, but we felt closing is a better option for the community to hopefully slow down the spread of the coronavirus,” Dinh said.

Food and drink service businesses that have closed their doors in response to COVID-19 concerns in the community include Diamond Knot Brewpub and O’Houlie’s Pub. Chez Grand Pere Bakery has decided to close its doors until at least April 1. 

Multiple restaurants, however, believe that they can safely continue operations for the foreseeable future due to the health protocols that they have implemented. That includes Monty Slimp, who along with his brother Gabe co-own barbecue restaurant Gabriel’s Fire.

“We’ve been taking precautions even before this outbreak because we follow the health code,” Slimp said. “Our restaurant is probably one of the safest places to get food from because of the health precautions that restaurants like ours always take.” 

Seaun Richards said that 44th Street Sliders is also taking precautions to ensure employee and customer safety. 

“We only have one employee at a time in the building and we try to ensure that they can remain 6 feet away from the customers,” Richards said. “We offer a curbside pickup option that allows customers to call in their orders ahead of time or have a menu brought out to them when they arrive.”

Several coffee shops are continuing to serve food and drinks. Still, they do not allow customers to consume products inside of their businesses so that contact among customers and employees can be minimized. Urban City Coffee is maintaining normal operations with its drive-through service remaining open for regular business hours. 

Snohomish Pie Company is offering takeout, but no sit-down dining.

Snohomish Pie Company is still selling its pies and other sweet treats, but it has closed its dining area. Double DD Meats is open during its regular business hours from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is continuing to keep meat in stock. 

“Everybody’s coming here to stock up, so we’re doing really well,” employee Justin Nygard said. 

You can see the MLTnews directory of Mountlake Terrace area restaurants offering take-out and delivery services here.

Justin Elsner, president of the Mountlake Terrace Business Association and owner of the Elsner Law Firm, has been in contact with many local businesses who have been affected by the pandemic.

“Most people that I speak with are trying to make adjustments as best as possible, including marketing towards take-out if they are a restaurant and working from home for other business types,” Elsner said. “Luckily, some of the small businesses have been able to make people feel that they are safer places since fewer people are coming and going from their establishments.”

Justin Elsner (File photo)

Elsner believes that the strong sense of community in Mountlake Terrace will help local businesses recover from the economic fallout.

“We are a very close, self-supporting community,” Elsner said. “I am confident that when we re-emerge from this pandemic that the business community will be there to support the community get back to a normal life and I am confident that the community will strive to patronize local businesses.”

The Mountlake Terrace Business Association has pledged to create new events for local business owners and to reschedule previously planned events that were postponed due to the outbreak Additionally, the City of Mountlake Terrace has posted on its website several links on disaster loan assistance for business owners. 

The State Employment Security Department has adopted multiple emergency rules to assist individuals and employers. Their goal, as stated on the department’s website, is to “relieve the burden of temporary layoffs, isolation and quarantine for workers and businesses.”

Examples of some of the emergency rules adopted by the department include:

  • Workers may receive unemployment benefits and employers may get relief from benefit charges if an employer needs to shut down operations temporarily because a worker becomes sick and other workers need to be isolated or quarantined.
  • Standby will be available for part-time and full-time workers.
  • Workers who are asked to isolate or quarantine by a medical professional or public health official may receive unemployment benefits, and work search requirements could be waived, so long as they have a return date with their employer. The return to work date can be the date the isolation or quarantine is lifted.
  • If a worker falls seriously ill and is forced to quit, they cannot collect unemployment benefits at the same time that they are seriously sick but may be eligible once they recover and are able and available for work.

More detailed information about these new rules and regulations is available here. 

The U.S. Small Business Administration is also offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses across Washington state. All companies suffering substantial economic harm from the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible to receive these loans if they apply for them.  

Business may remain challenging for several weeks as the world attempts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. However, business owners such as Slimp of Gabriel’s Fire feel confident that a supportive community will be able to help businesses get through these troubled times safely. 

“We have a strong following on Facebook, and they’ve been able to help us stay afloat for right now,” Slimp said. 

— Story and photos by Nolan DeGarlais


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