‘A mockery’: Edmonds streatery operators slam city council for endless debate

Streatery at Salish Sea Brewing.

Edmonds “is becoming a mockery” with the endless debate over the temporary outdoor dining structures known as streateries. That’s the blunt assessment of Salish Sea Brewing’s Jeff Barnett, after a special Edmonds City Council meeting Monday collapsed without any amendments to its downtown streatery plan.

If there is no reconsideration of the current plan, approved by the council Dec. 16, the city will charge each streatery $4,000 for a permit — with the money to be paid by Dec. 31 — and the locations will only be allowed through April. (Under the plan, all money will be designated for leasing additional parking to replace that taken by the streateries’ use of public parking spaces.) In addition, any streatery that closes must remove its structure by Jan. 15. The Monday meeting was scheduled to reconsider those rules — including a lower fee — but with two members absent, one virtually leaving the meeting and a fourth who felt uncomfortable taking a vote of just the remaining members, the meeting abruptly ended without any action.

Barnett, who operates a streatery outside his brew pub on Dayton Street, calls the fee “outrageous.” With a staff of 25 and facing higher prices for supplies and an increase in the state minimum wage to $14.49 an hour in January, he told My Edmonds News that instead, “I’m gonna pay my staff,” and will close his outdoor street space.

Chanterelle streatery

Chanterelle on Main Street is also giving up its streatery. Manager Tiffany Tran said that “the amount we would be paying wouldn’t be worth it to keep.” Tran and her father own four other restaurants in the Seattle area.

“Our priority is just to keep the business open and running for our customers. I would love to keep it financially, but it’s a lot more expensive than I originally thought it would be,” Tran said.

Feed Me Hospitality, which runs three streateries, will keep the one at Salt & Iron open, as well as the location at the MarKet. Co-owner Shubert Ho said it is likely that they will shut down the streatery at Fire and the Feast (the alley-way outdoor space there will remain open since it is on private property).

Salt & Iron’s streatery on Main Street.

“We’re trying to focus on positives to keep (streateries) open for a few more months,” Ho said. “If they (the Council)  decrease the fee, that would be great”.

At Santa Fe next to the downtown Edmonds fountain, the streatery will stay. “I’m a little discouraged but we probably will pay the fee – uncomfortably,” Manager Ricky Bobadilla said, He added they may look for “some creative way” to raise funds to keep it going. Bobadilla said that Santa Fe’s space has been very busy, and with the COVID omicron variant spreading, they need outside space for customers.

Santa Fe, located next ot the downtown fountain.

These restaurateurs all told us they are unhappy with the way the Edmonds City Council has handled the streatery plan; the collapsed Monday Council meeting was the last straw for Jeff Barnett. “If you’re going to walk out on your job, then let’s hire somebody else,” he said. “They chose to do this; they should be ashamed.”  Barnett added, “they need to remember we’re doing this (streateries) because of the pandemic, not to make more money.” It’s a sentiment that Bobadilla echoed: “‘It’s (council action) starting to sound petty, a lot of the bickering.” Ho agrees: “We’re tired of hearing all this back and forth with city council and it’s time to move for us.”

City Councilmember Will Chen, who proposed the original rules and had favored the Monday reconsideration, issued the following statement Tuesday night, stating he supports reconsidering the streateries issue at a special council meeting Tuesday, Dec. 28:

“Despite the unfortunate outcome of Monday night’s special meeting, I still believe that we can find a compromise that allows for these establishments to operate beyond the sunset date of December 31st, and I am fully committed to having this dialogue so long as it is done with full transparency and proper disclosure. I strongly support having another special council meeting on next Tuesday December 28th to come up with a win-win solution for all stakeholders.”

(You can read the full statement on Chen’s Facebook page.)

City Council President Susan Paine said that no meeting is currently scheduled, but added that “things could change.”

Ho suggested that though the council meetings have been “very contentious,” there’s a good lesson learned – the city is getting more public input for the first time in a long time,” adding that “everybody’s starting to pay attention and if you can’t govern with a level head, it affects your constituents and those in the public eye.”

While the council juggles the future of streateries, Feed Me Hospitality — the restaurant group owned by Ho and Andrew Leckie — is pushing to keep street dining front and center alive.

They have invited all streateries to join in creating a January street dining event. It is called “Apres Edmonds” — a throwback to the 1980s apres ski parties on the slopes. There is no specific date set yet, but the idea, they said, is to make street-side dining an adventure and show Edmonds what can be done with alternative dining options.

— By Bob Throndsen

  1. Is there a reason that the council members who skipped the meeting, the two who left and the three who stayed aren’t mentioned by name? That’s pretty important to this story.

    1. The council members that could not attend a last minute meeting on an off night the week before Christmas should not be bad mouthed. Nor should the one who could not in good conscience remain in said meeting. The meeting should not have been called at that time. The members were available for the regular Tuesday time, despite the fact that this issue has been beaten to death. How strange that it absolutely had to be last minute Monday.

  2. Embarrassing and a mockery of public service are good descriptions of the Council’s actions, regardless of where one stands on the issue. The Council needs some grownups who know how – and have the desire – to collaborate and compromise. I support Barnett and Ho and restaurateurs 100%. I like the extra security of dining outside. I have never had trouble finding parking. I do worry a bit about disabled folks who perhaps have trouble walking the two or three blocks, but seems relatively easy to solve.

      1. The streeteries have had a free and unconstitutional use of public property for many months knowing it was all scheduled to end Dec. 31st. They lobbied their bud’s on the Council and got an extension to the end of April for a reasonable fee of about $34.00 a day for two parking spots. Now they complain and whine it’s too much for them to bear. Fine. Don’t pay it and tear down those mostly empty eyesores as was the original plan.
        No more last minute special Council meetings. If the new City Council wants to change things in January let them debate it in a full and open public meeting where the public can attend and comment.

  3. Ya can’t have outdoor seating bc of a pandemic and also cram people inside shoulder to shoulder. Salt and Iron was at more than full capacity this week. No social distancing at all. Pick a side of the argument.
    Quit using the pandemic to increase capacity. Jeff at Salish staged fake news, showing his streatery at full capacity when cameras were on for Q13. Enough of the crying. They feel entitled at this point. More than year, rent free real-estate. Pay your share. Patrick Doherty said of businesses who don’t want to pay the BID dues, “[Edmonds is nice place. If they can’t pay the dues the business could move to Lynnwood.]” I’m walking to work right now Wenesday at 5:30pm, walking past Salish. There’s about 30 people inside, zero people outside.

  4. The fee should have been Zero with a total shutdown on December 31st. The solution has become the problem.

    1. Yep. Give an inch and they’ll take a mile. How much is enough? More! The streatery operators are responsible for the endless debate. Won’t give back public property as agreed.

    2. Exactly. The whole thing would have probably been resolved to the better benefit of the restaurants if the Council President hadn’t been playing politics with scheduling again and the full council had been present to amend to what the R.s had proposed or something closer to it. I sincerely believe that’s what Mr. Chen desired to happen but the Councl President messed it up, hoping to get a sure vote and not have to listen to all views being presented. Not the first time she has done that. She and Nelson need to go ASAP. Mr. Nelson and Ms.Paine, please resign and go work for the Democratic Party, because that’s where you belong. Not Edmonds City Government. You work very well as a team. Just, please go somewhere appropriate to do it.

  5. Listen, you can’t have some businesses favored over others as retailers haven taken a hard hit as well. We are in essence discriminating against retail businesses with favoritism over restaurants. This makes no sense and most people do not want to sit outside freezing their hands and feet off. How can you have a cold drink at a restaurant and be outside in frigid weather. You can’t. The restaurants were given money from the govt to stay a float. Their still afloat. Can we please, please stop the charade! Lastly, even if most of us are not math geniuses, it’s not rocket science that 33 bucks a day to cover your streaterie for 4 months isn’t enough to gripe about. If any business doesn’t want to pay that amount upfront, that’s your choice and in my opinion what you are “really” saying is you know it’s not getting used enough to justify the price. Yup. That’s the whole point! If they are sitting there largely empty then let seniors have city parking back. Restaurants with streateries, where is your sense of altruism or are you simply from the “me” generation and you don’t give a care.

    1. Salish streatarie was invitation of city code for 18 months and has out door seating in front of the Brewery. You also opened up another location.

    2. You say 33 bucks a day, but they have to pay four months worth up front. How is that fair? Why can’t that be paid monthly like most bills businesses?

    3. I appreciate the issues you presented and agree with your opinions. Let’s list and consider all parties’ issues and see if a solution appears. We who live in Edmonds want all of the restaurants, personal services, and retail goods businesses to flourish so they will produce a healthy business community with a variety of options — those are OUR issues. We want to avoid favoring some subset of our businesses, providing well-rounded business type options. To help restaurants we need to make street spaces semi-permanently available for seating so customers are offered the perceived reduction in Covid transmission they demand. The remaining businesses seem to be best helped when the same street spaces are available instead, for their customer’s parking — for which alternatives barely exist. The shared, limited parking space commodity, benefits a business type only when the spaces are used for their own purposes, and loses when they are used by the other types’. Because I do not see any reason why the city can claim a cost that gives it the right to tax a streaterie, and do not believe that it deserves what must be around $2000/day it collects from restaurants, I think it should use those proceeds to fund a magic carpet zone throughout downtown — from Sunset to 7th and Caspers to Pine, that would involve a couple of street cars, like those sometimes used around Christmas. Shoppers could park in convenient parking areas surrounding downtown and wait on the nearest corner for a lift to the businesses on 5th or Main — to retailers and offices as well as restaurants. That would reduce the damaging effects from eliminating parking spaces on 5th and Main streets and provide safe and comfortable store access to shoppers while providing revenue for Edmonds’ businesses.

      1. I think the Streateries should go or at least pay the existing rent. They helped restaurants initially in the pandemic to stay open. Now they are just free extra tables on the street taking up parking spaces. We have lost parking for at least 34 spots, plus restaurants who’ve posted signs that limit parking for pick up only. Plus our city parking has been signed over to Joe Diamond as well as the Seattle First parking. Parking in Edmonds has always been a problem and now we have to deal with streateries and Joe Diamond. Give us a break and at least give us back those 34 parking spots.

  6. I’m really surprised at the attitudes expressed here. I think it’s frankly terrible the way this whole thing has been handled and further the vitriol here. I will choose to support the eateries in other ways but I do not support the City at all. Don’t worry, I’ll say it for those of you who are thinking it….I will move.

  7. Let’s do the math……$34 per day…….. Salish Sea Brewing would have to sell one extra serving of Pub Nachos and two extra Hoppy Hazy Ales. Salt and Iron would have to sell one extra Hamachi Crudo ( whatever that is ) and a extra “craft cocktail” or two to cover their rent. No wonder they’re complaining.

    1. The main issue is having to pay $4K by the end of next week. That’s four times what your math suggests. And that is the crux of the issue. Why force the restaurants to pay that in advance? Why not let them pay at the beginning of each month to help with their payroll and operating costs? The city council’s actions are irresponsible and clownish, and each member who allowed this to happen should be ashamed for caving in to the screamers and whiners in the community.

      It is very easy for people to throw stones at the restaurants — especially those who have no idea what thin margins they run on. They are key employers in our city and attract visitors to the downtown area. Without the community’s support, they will die.

      Then there will be boatloads of parking for the ghost cars that don’t bother coming to Edmonds anymore.

      Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

  8. I feel like the people who hate the “streateries” most also really admire Cliven Bundy and his buffoon platoon. Change my mind.

  9. I don’t feel the least bit sorry for the owners of streataries. They act like they are the only business in Edmonds effected by the pandemic when in fact they have made business even worse for many of the downtown retailers.

    Not only are the temporary shacks taking up parking spots, but they also have 15 minute parking spots for take out orders. In addition, several of the complaining streatary owners also have sidewalk dining across from their shacks making it feel like an obstacle course just to walk down the street through the maze of wait staff, customers, wooden shacks, and sidewalk dining.

    The retail businesses have also felt a loss due to the pandemic and made worse because of the streataries, During the day, many of these shacks sit empty while the businesses who are open do not have spots for their customers to park and have lost visual street exposure.

    The restaurants have had months of full capacity inside and out along with government pandemic assistance. It is now time for the streataries to go, to give support for all our businesses equally, and make the downtown core a friendly place for all to shop, eat, and stroll,

    1. The streets of Edmonds will once again be deserted, like they were 20 years ago.

      If that’s the Edmonds you want, that’s the Edmonds you will get. And it’s an Edmonds I won’t bother with anymore.

      1. For good or bad Edmonds has become an entertainment destination and that won’t change with or without Streateries. I was here 20 years ago and it was less crowded and more pleasant from my viewpoint. Fear not though, my friend, I suspect Streateries and Walkable Main are here to stay because people just love a carnival.

      2. I have no idea what you are even talking about I had a business in Edmonds 20 years a go and and knew most of the other business owners in town. We were all doing very well thank you very much. The one thing the business lacked was parking. I have lived here 48 years and never seen the streets of Edmonds empty.

      3. Is that a promise Mike? Residents of Edmonds express concern that the city is becoming another Kirkland. Well it appears that is the case, and the streateries will serve to hasten that inevitably.

  10. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Time for them to go and then each restaurant will have their curbside pick up spots back instead of using everyone else’s spots that don’t have the streaties.

    I find the three that don’t want to participate in this important meeting childish.

    1. I don’t like Streateries and disagree that they were ever a good idea or even legal in the first place. But, I also believe in democracy and the right of everyone to be heard and the necessity of rules to go by ( laws, codes, ordinances,etc.) Something like Streateries should be discussed and resolved in regularly scheduled meetings with all decision makers present and all stakeholders given their right to be heard and not limited to 3 minutes to sing. They should all be allowed full presentations, just like the Staff Directors.

  11. The problem with the City Council is not with the two who had prior commitments on that Monday, or the two who left because of the real question of the legality of the meeting, but with Councilperson Paine who scheduled the meeting. It is time to quit blaming the Council as a whole for this fiasco.

  12. Omicron. The solution that would make the restaurants the most mad would be if they were allowed to keep their streateries (because of Omicron), but also had to socially distance their bars and tables inside their main establishment (because of Omicron). This point makes it patently obvious that Jeff and Shubert are gaming a pandemic because of greed.

  13. Has anyone noticed there is NO ONE in the eateries. Drive by in the morning, afternoon no one is in them. It is winter. They are taking up precious parking for all the retail businesses. There has been a lack of parking in Edmonds for 40 years. Folks drive down to Edmonds and all you will see is empty shanties. I have eaten in downtown Edmonds 3 or 4 times the last two weeks and every restaurant is full inside, no social distancing and the table are close together.
    Tear them down NOW.

  14. The only “Mockery” happening in Edmonds is the contemptuous behavior by these ungrateful overbearing restaurant owners! I applaud Will Chen, Vivian Olson, Diane Buckshnis and Kristiana Johnson for not allowing the other council members to bully them into a decision that they knew was not in the best interest of Edmonds, or lawful for our community.
    The restaurants are only thinking about themselves, refusing to acknowledge that there are many other store owners and the residents of Edmonds that are impacted by their actions and entitlement attitude.
    It’s a slippery slope, before you know it Edmonds will be one big street party full of shacks! The Mayor already has closed our downtown streets on the weekends in the summer months, taking away ALL PARKING! Is the goal to close our downtown year round with no parking?? The demographics in Edmonds cannot shoulder you taking away convenient parking for them to frequent shops and restaurants.
    Cheryl Parrot, well said!!! It’s time for the streateries to go and give us our publicly owned streets and sidewalks back, by the end of December as was agreed! The restaurants have shown that the compromise that was generously offered to them to extend for 4 more months was not appreciated! Seems they won’t be happy until they get permanent use of our streets and sidewalks…a short term gift has turned into an expectation, time to take back our city before it’s too late.

  15. I hardly believe that two councilpersons who announced prior commitments, and two councilpersons who questioned the legality of the meeting was a mockery. The Tuesady meeting, ND every other meeting last week, was canceled due to proximity to the holiday.

    I don’t like to use words “apparent”, but it does seem a bit odd the the meeting was scheduled for Monday.

    None the less, I understand and have sympathy for what the restraunteurs are saying. I also have sympathy and respect for the other business owners throughout Edmonds. The pandemic, for good reason, gave a test case on the walkable Hamlet. The Dayton traffic issues followed, the contentious Street dining debate followed, and the process by which it was done was hidden under the guise of the greater good. I would like to believe that initially. Now, the vision is transparent. Change downtown to an entertainment district with limited to no vehicles. It doesn’t really bother me either way, but at least admit it. Then, approach all of the stakeholders, most importantly, the residents.

    On another note, if the restaurant owners have been affected by COVID, doesn’t the City have a program they could leverage and/or extend? The City of Edmonds is offering up to $10,000 grants to those businesses most impacted by the COVID-19 economic crisis and that have received the least financial assistance to date. Click here for more information and/or to apply by 11/22/21. (From the City website).

    If the restaurants have been adversely affected, and the use of free public property doesn’t equate to financial assistance, can’t they apply like every business in Edmonds for thos grant (if extended).

    Neither for or against the these ADU’S (accessory dining units), just the process leveraged to get us where we are.

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