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Ivar’s closes full-service Seattle restaurants until spring due to COVID

People walk near Ivar's Fish Bar on the waterfront as smoke from wildfires fills the air on Sept. 12, 2020 in Seattle, Washington.(Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)

Ivar’s Acres of Clams on the Seattle waterfront and the Salmon House on Lake Union are closing for now because of COVID-19.

“We announced that we’re putting the Acres of Clams full-service restaurant and the Salmon House into hibernation on Sunday night to get through the corona issues, and hope to open up next spring if we have a vaccine, if the Huskies are back, if the cruise ships are back in town, if people are working downtown,” Ivar’s President Bob Donegan told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show. “So, yeah, it’s a sad day here at Ivar’s.”

Ivar’s, Donegan says, was lucky to have had a good summer. They were able to seat people on the patios at both full-service restaurants.

“In a normal year, we get many call-in orders and online orders,” Donegan said. “This summer, about 70% of those orders at the Salmon House came from people on boats. Now that the weather is changing, … those outside seating areas are not usable, and we’re not going to get the orders from boats.”

“So we feared that we would not have enough customers to cover our operating costs and decided rather than threaten the safety of the whole company, that we would seek help from our landlords at the pier and at the Salmon House, and they graciously agreed to help us,” he added. “So we’re going to put them in hibernation until the spring.”

The landlords were able to help Ivar’s with reductions in rent and operating costs, agreed to give them time to develop strategies for reopening in 2021, and were very accommodating in helping the company reduce costs to make it through the winter, Donegan explained.

While Ivar’s tentatively plans to open up next spring, Donegan admits there’s no way to know for sure.

“The only thing that’s 100% certain is that your shows are going to be entertaining,” he said to Dori. “… We’ve not been able to predict anything that’s going to happen in 2020. So I don’t know what’s going to happen six months from now.”

Donegan hopes that conventions and cruise ships return next year, and that the employees who work in downtown Seattle — who were lunch customers — return to their offices once again.

“We hope by the spring that there’s a vaccine, and people are back, and we return to a more normal state, and if that’s the case, we will happily reopen,” Donegan said.

Ivar’s president expects ‘new trends’ to stick at restaurants post-COVID

Thankfully, no one has to go without their fish and chips or chowder. Ivar’s 19 Seafood Bars located throughout the Puget Sound region, including the ones on the sidewalk at the Salmon House and at the pier, will remain open, as will the full-service restaurant and fish bar at the Mukilteo ferry terminal.

“And those stores have been up in customer counts and sales this year compared to a year ago,” Donegan said. “So there are still places where you can get good seafood in Seattle, and we look forward to seeing you there.”

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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