After an optimistic reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic this past June, Seattle seafood institution Ivar’s is abandoning indoor dining until — hopefully — next spring. Both Acres of Clams on the waterfront and the Salmon House on Lake Union will close Sept. 28.
The two spacious restaurants — the Salmon House seats 692 — seemed better suited than many to turn a profit during COVID-19 indoor dining capacity restrictions, first at 25%, now at 50% under the governor’s Safe Start Phase 2. But even after reducing expenses, menu changes and more delivery, the company says the two full-service places haven’t approached break-even sales.
“We all feel terrible…” company president Bob Donegan says. “There were many tears as we met with our teams and told them. We look forward to being back together in the spring if there are solutions in place.”
A statement from the company echoes the dire conundrum faced by many in the restaurant industry this fall. “Without cruise passengers, conventions, tourists, banquets, Sounders, Seahawks, and Mariner fans, and workers in the downtown offices, there are few people eating in our full-service restaurants,” it reads. “We fear when the weather changes and the rains return, we lose outside dining and we won’t have any customers.” Ivar’s notes that their landlords “kindly stepped up” to modify leases on the two restaurants.
Fans of Ivar’s fish and chips as well as local seagulls who live off their largesse are still set, however, as the walk-up windows at both locations remain open, along with 17 more scattered around Puget Sound. Full-service dining is still available at the Ivar’s in Mukilteo, where the chowder plant will also “continue to produce soups around the clock,” the company notes.