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Seattle breweries struggle amid changing weather, COVID restrictions

With indoor seating limited due to COVID rules and colder, wetter weather approaching, breweries hope that customers brave the elements to help them stay afloat.

SEATTLE — Windy weather sent some canopies flying at a Seattle brewery over the weekend.

It's another blow for an industry heavily relying on outdoor seating to survive. 

"We set up our canopies Thursday night in anticipation for the weekend," said Jason Shrum, co-owner of Bad Jimmy's Brewing Co. 

As soon as the canopies went up, the wind brought them back down. 

"Unfortunately funds are tight because we're earning about 50-60% less than what normally we'd be this time of year and losing those canopies was pretty detrimental," Shrum said. 

Bad Jimmy's Brewing Company is just one of the many breweries relying heavily on outdoor seating to bring in some customers.

"First it's COVID and then it's fire and smoke and then it's a wind storm, the hits just keep coming," Shrum said. 

Gov. Jay Inslee's restrictions on breweries prevent any indoor seating unless food is prepared onsite.

"I think realistically, you know, we're not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel," said Grace Robbings, co-founder of Reubens Brews. 

Less than a mile away from Bad Jimmy's, Reuben's Brews is facing similar struggles. 

"So, in the summer we saw a waitlist people waiting to get into the very limited number of tables we had available indoors. And now with the weather changing, I think we're going to see probably a lot of empty tables," Robbings said.

On top of owning Reuben's, Grace Robbings is part of the Ballard Brewed coalition, a group focused on keeping the local industry alive.

"We're all hoping that Seattleites will, you know, brave the weather, bundle up and still head out to support their local breweries."

Employees at Bad Jimmy's are crossing their fingers that someone can donate some industrial-grade canopies to help them weather any future storms. The brewery is also accepting contributions to purchase new canopies.

"We basically have this week and then the weather is going to go the other way," Shrum said.

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