Boats aren’t the only thing moving in and out of the Port of Port Townsend. Good food, coffee, beer and banter with servers are also coming to customers at almost all the eateries and drinkeries based at the port.
Although staffing has been reduced and the challenges are many, most are open for takeout orders. All have installed or are installing new protective measures to keep staff and customers healthy.
The Blue Moose Café in the heart of Boat Haven sprinted back into service May 14 after a 50-day closure. Owner Tana Kettle and her daughter Jasmine have brought back the full breakfast menu and are trying out different parts of the lunch menu, all on a takeout basis.
“We’re seeing what happens each day,” said Jasmine.
One thing they’ve already seen is an “incredible, amazing” response from regular customers, she said.
“The customers have been happy to have us back and to make sure we hung in there,” she said. Several contacted her in past weeks to offer help to ensure reopening, she said.
They have, but with minimal staffing.
“We’ve weathered some storms before, but this one has been a monsoon,” said Jasmine about the 16 years her family has run the café. “We just take it day by day and make sure our employees and customers are safe.” As business grows, they hope to hire back everyone.
The Marina Café, which faces Boat Haven Marina, will open in early June. Owner Jennifer Takaki expects her one-person operation to start turning out breakfast scones and lunch sandwiches as soon as renovations are completed for takeout service.
“I’m doing modifications on the café and installing a new pass-through window,” said Takaki. She’s also keen on installing a new intercom system to allow her and her customers to banter back and forth – from a distance – in the spirit of what once happened in her small dining room. “My café is social,” she said. “That’s who we are.”
Despite her good spirits, Takaki acknowledged the long-term toll of the coronavirus on her business and others. She closed March 16 and took time off to mentally regroup. Her only co-worker, her dad Wally, will stay at home to reduce risks to him, she said.
“It’s going to be a big change for old-school restaurants,” she said. The Marina Café has served as a break room for three nearby businesses. Now those folks have to eat outside, she said, a prospect only made easier by summer weather.
Port Townsend Brewing is still brewing and serving beer, but in ways that adapt to the new times, said co-owner Kim Sands. She and Guy Sands are now the only two employees of what was formerly a 10-person operation.
“I’ve been working more than ever,” she said. “It’s back to Ma and Pa Kettle running the show.”
But the local beer Guy Sands brews is still coming out. PT Brewing is not filling growlers, but turning out bottled beer for local pickup and delivery to many grocery stores that carry it here or in northern counties. And they fill occasional keg orders.
Customers can pay for curbside kegs via the “Cash Keg” — a beer keg turned into a payment box. Curbside beer pickup times are Tuesdays and Fridays, noon to 4 p.m., and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Kim Sands put the hard times into perspective. Her sister came close to dying in a Louisiana hospital’s ICU from COVID-19, but has recovered and is back home. “So it’s all good,” said Sands.