Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurateur Tom Douglas has announced that his two Seattle spots that are located in the heart of Amazon’s now-quiet headquarters will not be making a comeback. Closed since March, neither the casual burgers-and-beers Bravehorse Tavern nor the upscale pasta place Trattoria Cuoco will reopen. With both restaurants reaching the end of their 10-year leases, Douglas says, “At the end of the day, there is a new reality in the … real estate market. This could go on for years.”
Company spokesperson Madeline Dow Pennington elaborates that it was “too difficult to renew, not knowing what next week’s going to look like — or next month, or next year.” In addition to the leases ending during COVID-19, Pennington notes there’s “obviously the unknown factor of the workforce down there,” citing uncertainty about when — or if — employees of Amazon and other South Lake Union tech firms will return to on-site work.
Douglas chose to preemptively close all but one of the 13 restaurants in his group even before Gov. Jay Inslee instituted a dining-in shutdown in March, and has kept them shuttered through the move to Phase 2. “Time will tell which of our places will be financially viable to reopen,” Douglas says. Pennington says news is coming soon about some of the company’s downtown locations reopening, and that meanwhile, Serious TakeOut in Ballard continues operations.
While the two Tom Douglas spots were popular with the lunch and after-work crowd, other established restaurateurs struggled to stay afloat in Amazonland even before the coronavirus. As other places in the neighborhood closed down in 2017, Douglas told The Seattle Times, “You have to adjust the model to take advantage of when people are there.”