With fall approaching, restaurant owners in Langley who took advantage of the city’s outdoor expansion proclamation during the summer were faced with the challenge of the coming rainy season.
However, lunch —and dinner — can go on since funding has been secured for tents that will cover the outdoor seating areas.
During a Langley City Council meeting last week, retail business owners Fred Lundahl and Holly Price spoke about the importance of keeping open restaurants, which help attract visitors to other businesses.
Restaurant owners also spoke during the meeting. Jenn Jurriaans of Prima Bistro and Saltwater Fish House & Oyster Bar agreed it is scary going into the fall.
Lisa Carvey, of The Braeburn, called outdoor seating “a lifesaver.”
Langley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Inge Morascini said during the meeting that there was a plan in development to install tents above the outdoor eating spaces for restaurant owners who want them.
The only barrier was funding.
Langley Mayor Tim Callison said that the city has already exhausted its CARES funds.
Rachel Jeppesen, a real estate broker and co-owner of the retail store Wish by the Sea, offered a solution. As a board member of the Whidbey Island Association of Realtors, she asked if that organization would sponsor Langley’s tent initiative.
Within 24 hours, a commitment was made by the association.
“It’s a true indication of the caliber of the people that live here, that they can come together and immediately solve a problem,” Morascini said.
Mayor Callison said he agrees.
“I think it’s remarkable, the generosity of the group of realtors that are involved,” he said. “It’s just tremendous.”
Morascini said the tents will vary in size, depending on the space, and will have heaters. They will be up for a 60-day period.
Jeppesen said the preliminary costs for the tents totals about $15,000.
The Braeburn, The Commons Cafe, Prima Bistro, Saltwater Fish House & Oyster Bar and Ultra House each indicated an interest in getting tents, some of which were installed this week.
“This makes the difference for them between closing for the winter and being able to remain open,” Morascini said.
Jeppesen added that the Whidbey Island Association of Realtors is considering the possibility of extending sponsorship to other parts of Whidbey.