Pierce Co business owners plead for loosened COVID restrictions as they struggle to stay afloat

We are one week away from the current end date for certain COVID restrictions imposed by Governor Inslee. Of course as we’ve already seen this month, the governor could extend them-but many businesses most affected, restaurants, gyms, movie theaters and more are hoping that won’t happen. We spoke with several pierce county business owners who say if restrictions don’t loosen soon-they may have to close their doors for good

Bryan Reynolds and his family have poured everything they have into their local business, Anthem Coffee.

"We're a 14 year old business, it started with my mom and dad and my wife Elizabeth and myself."Not long before the pandemic, they expanded and currently have 8 locations in Pierce County. But COVID changed everything.

"It’s not working, it’s just not enough, and we've adapted to the doordashes, we’ve tried to do curbside, even drive-thrus.". Reynolds says not being able to have people sit indoors has dramatically affected the business. "You might be at the end of your rope, but tie a knot and hold onto for dear life because this is gonna pass, but we're losing hope that this is going to pass."

Reynolds says he’s praying that soon the current restrictions are loosened to allow indoor dining again. "We know it’s time for us to raise our voices a little bit louder and just ask please-let us operate again-at 50%-even 25% capacity."

It’s a sentiment shared by many local business owners who are struggling to stay afloat.  "It’s devastated us not only economically as an owner, it devastated my staff," says Gloria Martin. Martin has owned southern kitchen for over 25 years. She’s worked hard to create the beloved Tacoma eatery. But even as popular as her restaurant is, revenue is down 70%, and more than half her staff has had to be laid off. "I'm worried that I’ll lose the restaurant absolutely." It’s an agonizing thought and it’s much more than just a financial burden. "Forget all the good memories of the restaurant, the sweat the hard work, but the fact that I won't be able to offer jobs to people in our community, and especially people of color in our community, is heartbreaking to me."

"No one can sustain being shut down and s till having to pay their bills, so if we're not careful here, we're gonna lose any and all character that our local communities have and in doing so completely alter what our communities and neighborhoods are," says Mike Runion, president and co-found of 7 Seas Brewing.

7 Seas Brewery is another treasured local spot dealing with the catastrophic financial consequences of COVID. Runion says if restrictions are loosened next week it will be great. But he says it won’t do nearly enough. We're having the right to create revenue and pay those bills taken away from us so it’s almost like forcing the death of your dreams and livelihood."

Runion says in order for businesses to really survive this, there needs to be what he calls proportional financial assistance to balance out the enormous losses in revenue. "The house I’m sitting in and the TV my children are watching to my right, is very much at risk right now and there’s only so long any business can hold on with the marathon we've been dealing with."