Langley restaurants have customers covered

— Created September 23, 2020 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

Some Langley restaurants are celebrating a big boost to their businesses, thanks to the generosity of the Whidbey Island Association of Realtors and an innovative concept from the Langley Chamber of Commerce.

The “We’ve Got You Covered” campaign is literally just that – five Langley restaurants have had large outdoor tents erected outside, giving them the ability to keep their outdoor dining spaces open through  the cooler temperatures and rainy days.

“For the majority of the restaurants, which tend to have small interiors in Langley, it more than doubles their space, within the current COVID guidelines,” said Langley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Inge Morascini. “The tents are open on one full side, making them outdoor space. Tables will still be placed with social distancing and masks are worn by staff and patrons, while not eating.”

Morascini said tents have been placed by the Braeburn, Saltwater, Ultra House and South Whidbey Commons. A tent has also been placed over Prima Bistro’s rooftop deck.

The goal of the campaign is to prevent restaurants from having to close for the fall and winter months, or reduce their service to takeout options.

“The “We’ve Got You Covered” initiative came out of conversation with the restaurant owners and the Chamber of Commerce,” Morascini explained. “The restaurants were facing the prospect of having to close for the winter if they could not continue to utilize the outdoor dining areas that have gotten them through the summer. The cost of tenting these spaces was prohibitively expensive for them, given the number of weeks they had had to close or move to takeout only in March, April and May. The Chamber sought bids from several tent rental suppliers and brought the problem to the attention of the City Council. Without the restaurants, all of the businesses would see reduced customer traffic and we were at a crisis point.”

Fortunately, said Morascini, local realtor and business owner, Rachel Jeppeson, heard the call.

“She took the idea of sponsoring the rental of the restaurant tents to the Whidbey Island Association of Realtors and had the local real estate offices on board within 24 hours,” Morascini said.

“Whidbey Island Association of Realtors is thrilled to support our Langley Village restaurants because WIAR is about more than promoting the real estate industry and real estate ownership on Whidbey Island,” Jeppeson said. “It’s also about being an integral part of our community and supporting the people who live and work here. As the banner will say on the tents: ‘We’ve Got You Covered!'”

Once the tents went up, it didn’t take long before they were put to use.

“Braeburn was nearly full the other day and it made me so happy and emotional,” said Jeppeson. “The restaurants have been through so much these past few months and I truly hope we can unite as a community and do all we can to support them.”

Information on the rental cost of the tents was not provided to Whidbey Weekly.

Morascini said she hopes the tents’ addition will make a meaningful difference for these small businesses that have been hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Business during the pandemic has been difficult for all of the businesses in Langley, but especially the restaurants,” she said. “Between being closed for a period of time, and then being relegated to takeout only, most have suffered severe losses.”

Morascini said the Chamber and the owners and directors of Langley’s restaurants are grateful WIAR was able to lend a hand to make the “We’ve Got You Covered” campaign a reality.

“Sometimes it just takes the right person, in the right place, at the right time,” she said.