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Community helps Burien restaurant after its outdoor dining tent was stolen

The Salmon Creek Café has been struggling during the pandemic and decided to get a tent to give outdoor dining a try, but it didn't last long.

BURIEN, Wash. — A restaurant in Burien is bouncing back with the help of the community after thieves thwarted their attempt to do outdoor dining amid the current COVID-19 restrictions. 

The Salmon Creek Café has been hit hard like so many other restaurants during the pandemic.

"We were struggling after Thanksgiving, not sure if we're going to stay open," said co-owner E.J. Kim.

The owners decided to try the outdoor dining trend that's helped many Seattle restaurants stay afloat. It took them weeks to get the proper permits and then purchase an outdoor tent for people to sit under during inclement weather.

"It was a good day to put them up, spike them to the pavement and then all that stuff. We show up the next day and they're gone. It's really disheartening," said co-owner Doug Gundlach.  

They were discouraged, but it didn't last long.

Regular customers started a Go Fund Me for the restaurant without even telling the owners and word spread quickly on social media. They even started getting more customers. 

"That's overwhelming, it's exceeded the expense of the tents. We've got to figure something else to do with that goodwill instead of beat our head against the wall and do the same thing," said Gundlach. 

The owners decided not to put up another tent because they've heard from other restaurants about similar thefts. Instead, they want to find a way to put the money back into the community that came to help them when they needed a boost. 

"It's definitely touch and go sometimes but the community will not let us go away," said Gundlach.