With indoor dining restricted under Governor Inslee’s Safe Start order and limited space to spread out, The Vashon Community Pub will shut its doors on Sept. 27.
Owners Baynody Méndez Jiménez and Cliff Goodman said they will invite islanders back for more in the spring, after working their nerves into overdrive to remain open this summer.
“It’s been like we were playing a game of Russian roulette. You know, worrying about people, are they wearing their masks? What about groups that come in? Are they from the same household or not?” Goodman said. “And knowing that our family, our staff, our guests could get sick and potentially die? It’s been really hard. And now that we’re looking at wintertime, it’s like, you know, this is time to take a break and see how things go.”
For now, a pop-up tent out back will welcome the last pub patrons of the year; Jiménez and Goodman said it would not be financially viable to keep the space open with propane heat once temperatures start to fall.
“There’s a lot of stuff that we have to be worried [about] without getting sick,” Jiménez said.
The community pub, the face of Goodman’s Vashon Brewing Company, first opened in the Vashon Village complex in May of 2018.
Business has been about as good as could be hoped for during a global pandemic, Jiménez said, even if the pub only saw 40% of as many customers last month as it did in August of last year. Island regulars stopped by to sample brews and gather in small clusters in one of the only settings outside where it was still permissible to do so for much of the spring. But also factoring into the decision to close, Jiménez said, is the harsh prospect of an especially slow winter, a challenging time for island businesses in the best of times.
Goodman added that there is no plan to fill the shelves of island grocery and liquor stores with new brews in the meantime, though they plan to keep brewing despite the pub being closed.
“What we have left is basically what we’ll sell,” he said
For now, the pub is staying put at its current location and there are no plans to move the business elsewhere. Goodman said they have been able to work with their landlord and defer some rent payments on the storefront, “which helps.”
He added that he believes the virus isn’t the only thing to blame.
“The only way we’re going to get past it and get our economy back on its feet is if we have an administration that actually takes it seriously and does something about it.”
Bars and restaurants have been some of the hardest-hit businesses in the pandemic — restaurants are expected to lose some $240 billion in revenue by year’s end according to The National Restaurant Association.
One small, bright spot for the island’s small business community is the recent opening of The Vashon Wine Shop, just steps away from the community pub. New business owner Julie Burke is offering a variety of wines from the Pacific Northwest to France, Italy and Spain for islanders to experience, hosting daily tastings she said are meant to help take the pressure off.
“I really have an appreciation for everything in here. So it’s hard to pick one that I like the most. And everybody has a different palette. So one person is completely in love with a Chardonnay and another person hates it,” she said. “I try to have a good balance of something for everybody.”
Burke added that most of her wines are a mix of affordability and value, but that an open mind helps when trying to pick out a bottle to take home.
“The two I [tried] today, I was just in that mood, that I wanted to find a wine that surprised and delighted me, because I felt like this day needed surprise and delight,” she said.
The Vashon Wine Shop is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 11:30 a.m to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Order online at wineshopvashon.com for free delivery or pickup.
The Vashon Community Pub is open from 2 to 8 p.m. Thursday and 12 p.m to 8 p.m. Friday to Sunday.