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Seattle restaurant owner says shutdown is ‘a very, very scary moment’

A pedestrian wearing a face mask walks past art by a local street artist, featuring the Space Needle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The new COVID-19 restrictions and second shutdown in Washington state announced over the weekend will impact everyone, including an already hurting business community.

Mauro Golmarvi, owner of Assaggio Ristorante in downtown Seattle, joined KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show less than a year ago when there was a shooting and increasing violence in downtown, before anyone knew about the coronavirus pandemic.

“I can’t even believe this is the same city,” Golmarvi said Monday. “The last year or two years ago, before all this violence and everything, we had the most amazing city in the country. Seattle was the best place. You have ocean, you have the mountains, you have the best seafood, you have the best wine from Washington state. You’ve got all of them suddenly all shattered, and it’s gone.”

Assaggio was closed for seven months, Golmarvi said. They had recently reopened with limited hours and takeout, and now, he says, they have to close down again.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen to us,” Golmarvi said. “… I swear to you, Dori, I was just crying last night and thinking how is my crew going to handle it again.”

Dori points out that what’s especially challenging is the uncertainty as there’s no timetable, no way of knowing if this closure will have to be extended past a month.

“This time around is going to be worse than the first shutdown,” Golmarvi said. “It’s the second one. You think we should be ready for the second shutdown. We’re not. And we’re just having the hardest time this time.”

Assaggio has been open for 28 years, but Golmarvi is worried about how his restaurant will survive this shutdown, as takeout only operations are expensive and he hasn’t been able to make money since reopening. He explained that every supplier has a minimum that you have to reach, plus the delivery apps charge premiums, and these aren’t costs that can be passed to the customer.

Golmarvi says as an Italian restaurant, he cannot charge steakhouse prices, and wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he overcharged his customers. But at the same time, he has to pay his employees, his rent, and everything else.

“I’m shaking right now as I’m talking to you,” he said. “It’s a very, very scary moment. Very scary time for all of us.”

“I assure to you I cannot even see one minute in front of me,” he added. “I am so scared this time around. I don’t even know what’s going to happen to our state, to our city, to our people.”

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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