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Pierce, King County restaurants see stark differences in Phase 2 and 3 business

Pierce County restaurant owners said rolling back to Phase 2 sunk their sales and warn King County may face a similar fate.

PUYALLUP, Wash. — A restaurant owner in Pierce County said business has significantly dropped since the rollback to Phase 2 of the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan, and now King County could be next.

Teresa Suprak, co-owner of Charlie's Restaurant on East Main Avenue in Puyallup, said Phase 2 is sinking sales for her business. She said they are used to seeing older folks on the regular, but some of these customers are now too afraid to come in while the county is in Phase 2.

"These last two weekends where we've been in Phase 2 have been less than 30%. We are down in sales," said Suprak.

Meanwhile, on East Main Street in Auburn, Zola's Cafe is seeing an increase in sales. Owner Matthew Noesen said it is about time after a series of ups and downs for his business.

"We've probably increased 20% to what we were doing," said Noesen. "About four weeks ago, it just started picking up. Every day was a little bit better [and] a little bit better.”

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Both restaurant owners remember just how hard it was during Phase 1 of the state's reopening plan. Restaurants were doing takeout and curbside pickup to keep business afloat.

Noesen said there were days when no one would come into the cafe for hours at a time. Suprak, on the other hand, had to close her business for 10 weeks.

"This has been the most difficult time ever in our lifetime of trying to run a restaurant," said Suprak. "We are ready to be fully open, we're ready to be back to business as usual.”

Now, health officials predict King County could also be in danger of rolling back to Phase 2 as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise. This means restaurants would be back to 25% capacity compared to the 50% capacity in Phase 3.

"Hopefully, sometime this summer, it gets closer to being back to 100%," said Noesen. "I will continue my 90 hours a week and do whatever I have to do to keep the doors open."

Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to re-evaluate the state's Healthy Washington plan and make an announcement Monday.

Suprak hopes Pierce County won't roll back any further.

"Everybody in this building is really afraid of what's going to happen next," she said.

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