SEATTLE — A West Seattle coffee shop owner says road construction has caused a significant drop-off in business.
Angela Cough, owner of Shack Coffeehouse on SW Avalon Way, said when roadwork began out front, they saw a 30% drop in business the first day.
“And beyond that, it’s dropped 50% of what our typical volume is,” she said.
She said for the rebuilding shop, already operating on thin margins, it’s a disastrous turn. She believes it’s just too tough for customers to get there – navigating a maze of cones and torn-up concrete.
SDOT is working on the street in phases to re-pave, add protected bike lanes, and improve transit flow, while removing some parking spots and the center turn lane.
The agency said it is working to minimize impacts through ongoing outreach to businesses and residents, and by connecting them with the Office of Economic Development. SDOT also said it stationed a crew member to direct traffic and deliveries through the congestion, a spokesperson said.
Cough said they have seen a groundswell of support, resulting in a few busy periods – but it’s not enough to make up for the lost traffic.
“It’s not sustainable,” she said.
She modified the shop’s hours during construction. They were also forced to close early Monday after crews struck a water line, interrupting service.
These impacts have her hoping city officials could find a way to support businesses impacted, not just on Avalon, but in other developing parts of Seattle.
“We can set aside 1% for art, for public works projects,” she said. “Why is it we can’t get a priority, especially considering the major projects we’re working on over the next 15 years? To also set aside 1% for revenue offsets of businesses that have no choice.”
SDOT said there “no plans to subsidize businesses” during the Avalon project.
“As general support to small businesses, especially those impacted by construction, Office of Economic Development (OED) provides access to capital through a range of community lending partners as well as free consulting services to eligible businesses that can help with their marketing or financial/accounting systems,” a spokesperson wrote.
They said OED reached out to Shack, but had not heard back.
Seattle Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who represents the area, reached out to the director of OED regarding the issue last week.
“In 2016, OED & SDOT worked together to make available CDBG funds for a business stabilization fund to address business losses from the 23rd Ave. S. transportation project,” Herbold wrote in a business stabilization fund. “OED and SDOT were able to do this on a one time basis because of the CDBG fund availability – funds without restrictions that we do not always have in excess. The number of businesses in Luna Park are so small, and the need would likely be significantly smaller in their instance than experienced by the much larger number of businesses helped on 23rd S.”
“Is there anything we can do?” Herbold continued. “I visited the Luna Park business district this weekend. I appreciate the parking made available for the Luna Park Café under Spokane. But for the Shack – people are grabbing and going. They are not going to park that far away to pick up a coffee.”