Seattle Beer Company owner fears for future of city tourism
When longtime brewing enthusiast Dustin Boast opened the Seattle Beer Company a little over three years ago near Pike Place Market, he immediately saw that there would be sanitation and safety issues.
“We’ve noticed it from the start,” he said.
The entire time he has been open, people have been sleeping in front of the business’s lower level entrance at night. Boast cleans up needles and trash on a daily basis.
“I have to step over someone to get into my business, I have to open my door, and hopefully this person doesn’t run in and assault my bartender, or they don’t come in and steal items,” he described to KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson.
Over the past three years, he estimates that he has called the police 200 times.
“It’s just frustrating that we have to spend all our time and energy [cleaning up], it’s a safety concern for my employees as well as myself,” he said. “It’s just kind of frustrating that no one is there to help us, being a small business owner — we only have about 10 employees.”
He has a good relationship with the police officers who have answered his cries for help, but they have told Boast that their “hands are tied.” One officer told him that he once arrested a person, only to find that the suspect was out of jail before that officer had ended his shift.
Boast does not just work downtown, but also lives in the neighborhood. This means he constantly has a front-row view of Seattle’s drug and crime problems.
“On my side, I don’t know what I could do — I pay my taxes, and we don’t get any help,” Boast said.
Concerns over the coming years
The business owner worries that this will have a dreadful effect on future business, since travelers he has spoken with have expressed shock and disgust at the crimes they have witnessed in front of Seattle’s best-known landmarks. Seattle Beer Company relies on summer tourism to prosper.
“We’re in a highly touristy area, and so we get people from all over the country as well as the world, they’re coming to Seattle to check off that bucket list,” he said. “And they’re disappointed … it’s only going to only continue to trickle down, and get a bad reputation, hurt tourism.”
He witnessed one woman down the street who went over to comfort a man who appeared to be in crisis. The man responded by tearing off her shirt and tackling her to the ground.
The more that visitors experience this kind of random violence, the more that word will spread that downtown Seattle is a place to avoid, Boast fears.
“Downtown is going to become less and less of a destination and more of an inconvenience, instead of a premiere destination to celebrate the city and everything else we have to offer,” he said.
Boast had originally planned to open a second location in Seattle, but has since decided against it.
“I don’t want to do business in Seattle again,” he said. “So I’m going to consider opening another location in another state.”
Running a business of his own is a dream that Boast has held since childhood. But now that the dream is finally a reality, it is being crushed.
“I invested, as a small company, my blood, sweat, and tears in this place,” he said. “But it’s kind of frustrating that I can’t live out my dream or run this business and really, fully spread my wings and grow.”