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Owner of Seattle’s Kona Kitchen on struggles after losing parents to COVID-19

Kona Kitchen. (Facebook)

Restaurants across Washington have struggled to stay afloat during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. For Seattle’s Kona Kitchen, the pandemic hit home when both owner Elizabeth Mar and her husband Robert passed away in March after contracting the virus.

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Kona Kitchen is now in the hands of Elizabeth and Robert’s daughter, Angela Okumoto, who has watched the local community rally around the popular restaurant.

“I was completely overwhelmed by the support from the community,” she told KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show. “It definitely helped initially, just getting through the time and knowing that so many people cared for us in the business and my parents — it’s been amazing.”

Okumoto hopes that if people take one thing from her family’s tragic experience, it’s that “it will hit home,” and that “maybe they will all take (the virus) seriously.”

“When it actually hits home and it’s someone as close as a family member, it becomes real,” she said.

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In the meantime, she’s working to ensure that both of Kona Kitchen’s locations — one in Seattle, and one in Lynnwood — are able to keep their customers and employees as safe as possible. That includes updated floor plans to encourage physical distancing, minimizing the amount of customers inside at any given moment, and adhering to a statewide mask mandate for all customers and workers.

“We’re not just going to rush into it and risk something tragic happening to somebody else,” she vowed.

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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