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Restaurant owners hope Seattle Restaurant Week brings in more customers

After a year of COVID-19 restrictions, restaurant owners hope the month-long event can save their businesses.

SEATTLE — Seattle's restaurant owners are hoping Seattle Restaurant Week will bring in more customers as the state struggles with one of the highest restaurant closure rates in the country.

The event, which will last the entire month of April, will have participating restaurants offering fixed menus. Venues will have takeout, delivery, meal box, and indoor and outdoor dining options.

Desirae Aylesworth, owner of Wild Mountain Cafe in Ballard, said she's excited to participate in the month-long event after a tough year struggling to stay in business.

"We even at one point printed fliers and we're walking up and down the street putting them in mailboxes and things. Just trying to think of every way to be like 'we are still here,'" Aylesworth said. "I'm on Instagram every day, like 'hi, we are open!'"

Wild Mountain Cafe has been around for nearly 20 years. After working at the restaurant for 13 years, Aylesworth decided to take over ownership in 2019. However, in 2020, she thought she was going to have to close down.

"I don't know the difference between us and other restaurants and how we made it. All I know is that I've spent many nights in tears and just it's overwhelming," she said. 

Washington state is ranked fifth in the entire country for the highest restaurant closure rate. 

The Washington Hospitality Association reports 2,369 restaurant closures across the state from March 2020 to Sept. 2020. During that time 1,023 restaurants in King County, 224 in Pierce County and 258 in Snohomish County closed. Seattle alone had 624 closures.

The association estimates 35% of Washington restaurants will close in the next year.

Aylesworth is surprised she was able to keep her business going after so many had to close shop.

"There's really no words to describe how we feel and how lucky we feel," she said. There's no amount of like, I'm sorries you can say to them." 

To her, restaurant week is another opportunity to share her comfort food and cozy establishment with the community.

"It's another way to get our name out there and have people come in and experience us for the first time or for the hundredth time," Aylesworth said. "However we can be a part of it and whatever support we can get, we are here for that."