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Local restaurants doing their best to survive the stay at home order

The sign at Wild Mountain Cafe, a local restaurant in the Crown Hill neighborhood known for Eggs Benedict and homemade cinnamon rolls. (Photo courtesy of Wild Mountain Cafe)

Many local restaurants are having an especially hard time during Washington state’s stay at home order, required to close entirely or modify their business model to serve only takeout and delivery.

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Wild Mountain Cafe in the Crown Hill neighborhood of Seattle is one small business doing its best to survive.

“We have just seen a drastic decline,” said Desirae Aylesworth, general manager and owner of the cafe. “You know, thankfully, we have our core set of regular customers that have remained loyal to us throughout this process, but definitely at least a quarter of our typical sales.”

Aylesworth had to temporarily lay off her small staff of eight until the cafe can fully reopen. She said her staff was aware of the situation, and she had been in conversation with everyone leading up to the decision, as the visible declines started in early March.

Luckily, a lot of her staff have other jobs that they’ve been able to rely on for income.

“[But it] breaks my heart because they are the reason I’m here, 100 percent. … It’s just detrimental, to not only us, but other businesses in the neighborhood,” she said. “I’m seeing places close their doors, and we’re thankful to still be here.”

Right now, the cafe is being run by Aylesworth, her husband, and the chef, and the couple brings their two daughters with them every day while schools are closed.

“We are just doing our best to make ends meet so we don’t actually have to close the doors for good,” she said. “But it is a day by day case at this point.”

Wild Mountain Cafe has cut their dinner service, now only serving breakfast and lunch through curbside takeout or no-contact delivery. Aylesworth said they’re doing everything they can to get the word out, advertising on social media, reaching out, emailing people, asking for help, encouraging people to buy gift cards, “basically anything to get our name out there right now.”

Aylesworth has not had been able to receive any grants or help from the city or state due to various restrictions and limitations.

The fund from Mayor Jenny Durkan is for “eligible small businesses,” which Aylesworth said is limited to those with five or fewer employees, so she doesn’t qualify. She also won’t receive any of Amazon’s grant as it is only for businesses in South Lake Union.

“I feel like we just keep falling short of help,” she said.

She can apply for loans, but then would have to pay that money back in the future. Aylesworth is appreciative of the resources and understanding from local officials, but acknowledged that while they want to help, there’s really no way for them to do so at this point.

“It may just [take] us breaking down those doors and calling over and over to get through to the right person.”

She and her husband are trying to stay strong for their two daughters, the oldest of whom is in kindergarten.

“It’s a fine balance of homeschooling, parenting, that sort of teamwork we have to maintain, and trying to keep a business afloat at the same time,” she said. “[My] mom was a small business owner growing up, too, and I always saw her work hard and you just never give up. So that’s definitely instilled in me, and we’re just trying to teach the same thing [to our kids].”

Aylesworth does expect Wild Mountain Cafe will be able to survive, though every day is different.

“I cannot thank our loyal customers enough for choosing us with all of the other businesses open and struggling to stay open at this time,” she said.

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If you want to support Wild Mountain Cafe, you can order ahead for curbside pick-up, or have it delivered to your door if you’re in the area. The cafe is offering 30 percent off for health care workers, and kids eat free with the purchase of an adult meal while schools are closed.

Aylesworth recommends the eggs benedicts, or their homemade cinnamon rolls only available on the weekend. Visit the cafe’s website here for a menu and phone number.

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