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Two eateries and winery leave Georgetown

Cafe with coffee and cocktails to replace Flying Squirrel


Photos by Steve Lannen

Photo 1: Brown butcher block paper covers the windows at the former Flying Squirrel Pizza Co., 5701 Airport Way. It closed March 1. Photo 2: Burb's Burgers closed in February.


By Steve Lannen


The Covid-19 pandemic is in the rearview mirror for most, but it remains a painful reality for some businesses.


After 10 years in Georgetown, Flying Squirrel Pizza, 5701 Airport Way S, closed March 1. It followed the closure of two other locations in Seward Park (2020) and Maple Leaf (2022).

 

Changed dining habits and soaring food costs due to the pandemic hurt business. Revenue and sales were about 50 percent less compared to before March 2020, co-owner Mike Coury said. 


“We kept hoping it would go back to some semblance of what it was before, but it never did,” he said.


Coury cited big, $700 lunchtime pizza orders for nearby offices prior to the pandemic. With more people working remotely, those orders largely stopped, he said. Higher wages for servers and food costs made dining out more expensive all over the city. Coury thinks some people cut casual dining from their budgets or got used to ordering different food from delivery dining apps.


“We had our regulars and good, loyal customers, but you go in on a Thursday and only three tables are filled. You can’t make it with that,” he said. 


The space will be taken over by the owners of Capitol Hill’s Post Pike Bar & Cafe. Serving coffee, cocktails and sandwiches, they expect to open later this spring. 

 

A couple blocks away, the popular Burb’s Burgers inside the blue box at 5825 Airport Way shut down in February along with four other Seattle and Bellevue locations. In an Instagram video and interviews, owner Josh Henderson said a rapid expansion followed by Covid-related debt drove him to search for a buyer and put the business into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. 


A challenge to draw people to Georgetown


However, the pandemic isn’t the issue for one departing Georgetown business. Cascade Cliffs Vineyard & Winery Tasting Room, 6006 12th Ave S, will close in April after opening in 2019. The tasting room will join other wine-related businesses in a mixed-use development in Woodinville expected to open at the end of the year.


Cascade’s tasting room manager, Kristen Deiner, said she and staff will miss the neighborhood, but she also pointed out challenges to operating in Georgetown. City regulations caused the tasting room to lose its sidewalk patio, rent on the 4,200 square-foot space is expensive, break-ins and graffiti persist, and it is hard to convince people from elsewhere to visit the neighborhood, she said. And the shop’s computer was stolen during a recent break-in.


“Georgetown has a great charm, but that charm doesn’t attract people from outside. They’re used to something shinier and brighter,” Deiner said. “There’s a great, internal support network here, but people from outside don’t see that.”


Instead, visitors see the nearby homeless encampments and ask her if the area is safe or if their car will be broken into, she said. 


Georgetown’s residential population remains small. Most businesses can’t rely on local patrons alone. Georgetown could benefit from more external marketing to draw people from outside the neighborhood to visit and spend money, Deinert believes. 


“Other business districts advertise,” she said. “When was the last time you saw a Georgetown advertisement outside of Georgetown?”


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