‘It’s really not what it seems’: Restaurants say takeout sales aren’t helping their bottom lines

SPOKANE, Wash. — Your favorite local restaurants may be in danger of closing down permanently, if the state doesn’t reopen soon.

In Phase 2 of Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s plan, restaurants can open but only at 50% capacity. In Phase 3, that capacity goes up to 75-percent. By Phase 4, which may not be until mid-July, restaurants can finally open completely.

We’re in Phase 1 now, which is only takeout and delivery. But local restaurants told 4 News Now, even curbside sales aren’t saving restaurants from debt.

Wiley’s Downtown Bistro offers takeout to survive, not to profit.


“We’re definitely not looking at this and going, we’re making money. We’re probably $30,000 behind where we were when all of this started,” said Michael Wiley, owner of Wiley’s Downtown Bistro.

Wiley’s had to lay off all eleven of its employees during the shutdown. The restaurant has been serving takeout for lunch and dinner to help with overhead costs.

Takeout isn’t giving providing TTs Old Iron Brewery much to work with either. Chef and owner, Chad White, said not to let looks fool you on social media. While their posts online saying they’ve sold out of food looks like they’re thriving, but they’re just barely surviving.


“There is a facade of – oh wow. They must be doing so great because they are selling out a couple times a week. But the truth is, we are so far down in comparison from where we were before it’s really not what it seems,” said Chad White, owner and executive chef at TTs Old Iron Brewery.


Before the shutdown, White had 51 employees at his restaurants. Now, he’s down to five.

White also owns Zona Blanca, High Tide Lobster and High Tide Lobster 2.

“They’re my family and I spend more time with my employees and my management than I do at home with my own family. Rightfully, I think that they are my children and I am responsible for them. I’m heartbroken that many of them aren’t with us working,” White said.

Fewer employees, means less barbecue to sell.

“We’re down about 60% in our sales compared to where we were during the summer last year,” White said.

White also told 4 News Now, his orders for food supply have been limited recently. He said, similar to how we may notice less fresh option at the grocery stores for meat, the same goes for ordering food for his restaurant.

Only one of his restaurants open for business right now. White said he doesn’t think they’ll get back to their level of capacity they had before the shutdown until next year.

“We worked so hard last year to open up multiple restaurants. Now, three of the four restaurants that we have in Spokane are now closed until we can get them open. That’s a bit of a gut punch if you will,” White said.

To help your local restaurants, you can always buy gift cards to your favorite spots. If you don’t have the money right now, they understand. Restaurants said you can help by sharing posts on social media. It’s totally free to do it, and it’ll get the word out that they’re ready to serve.

Both TTs and Wiley’s said we’re all in this together. Our community needs everyone to succeed during this pandemic to keep our local restaurant industry strong.

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