PHOTO ESSAY: First weekend of ‘Reopening’ in South Seattle

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by Susan Fried


The weekend of July 4th was also the first official weekend King County dropped all COVID-19 restrictions, and many people in South Seattle looked forward to finally going to their favorite places to meet friends and family and take off their masks (as long as they were vaccinated).

Individual companies could ask customers to wear masks, but many allowed those vaccinated to walk mask-free and trusted them to be honest about whether they were vaccinated or not. Some companies have chosen to encourage customers to continue wearing masks, while others have chosen not to open them fully.

For many South End residents, things almost felt like they had returned to pre-pandemic normalcy.

Pat B., who has lived in Skyway for 50 years and has been coming to Beachcomber Sports Bar and Grill for more than 20 years, was delighted to be back at her favorite neighborhood spot on July 2nd.

Pat B., a Beachcomber regular, laughs with friends on Friday, July 2, 2021, the first weekend most of the COVID-19 restrictions in Washington were lifted. Pat, who has been coming to Beachcomber for over 20 years, was happy to be back at her favorite bar with her friends. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Two people sit at a high table and enjoy food.
Pat B. (left) and Mel Robbins (right), long-time regulars at Beachcomber, enjoy drinks and food on the first weekend the restaurant is open without restriction. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Beachcomber Sports Bar and Grill regular Pat B. and the owner Judy step out onto the outdoor terrace
Beachcomber Sports Bar and Grill regular Pat B. (left) and owner Judy (right) step out onto the outdoor deck on the Friday of the first weekend most of the Covid-19 restrictions in Washington state are lifted. (Photo: Susan Fried)

She wasn’t the only one at the Beachcomber who’d missed being there. Friends Bernard and Mel said it was the best bar in Seattle and anyone could come and feel safe and welcome. They were happy to be back inside at the bar and watch ESPN on TV.

Photo of the interior of the Beachcomber Bar with two people laughing and enjoying a beer at the bar.
Friends Bernard and Mel, regulars at Beachcomber, say they probably spend too much time there but are very happy that they can now sit at the bar and watch games and hang out together like they did before the pandemic. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Beachcomber Bar and Grill bartender Jason De La Rosa pours himself a drink.
Beachcomber Bar and Grill bartender Jason De La Rosa pours himself a drink. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Photo by a
Beachcomber Sports Bar and Grill trusts that its customers are honest about their vaccination status. (Photo: Susan Fried)

Island Soul in Columbia City was busy on July 3rd with people eating outside and others choosing to eat inside. Down the street, Molly Moon’s Ice Cream wasn’t fully open, but people could order ice cream through a window in the door. Next door, Chrysanthemum – a children’s clothing store – was open but still needed masks because many of the people in the store were too young to be vaccinated. Ark Lodge Cinemas was open and showing films but required guests to wear masks.

Columbia City was starting to feel alive again.

An Island Soul Server goes back to the restaurant.
An Island Soul server returns to the restaurant after taking an order from a customer on the outside patio on Saturday, July 3, 2021. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Island Soul Restaurant bartender Geoff pours a drink for a customer.
The bartender Geoff at Island Soul Restaurant will pour a drink for a customer on July 3, 2021, the first Saturday without COVID-19 restrictions. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Photo of the interior of the Island Soul restaurant full of guests.
Island Soul Restaurant was full on July 3, 2021, the first official Saturday without COVID-19 restrictions. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Photo of the exterior of Molly Moons Ice Cream in Columbia City with its window covered with brightly colored pastel signs that read "NOW OPEN!" and "ORDER HERE!"
Molly Moon’s hasn’t opened the store to customers yet, but people can order ice cream through an opening in the door. (Photo: Susan Fried)
A customer puts on her mask before ordering an ice cream from Molly Moon
A customer puts on her mask before ordering an ice cream from Molly Moon on Saturday, July 3, 2021. (Photo: Susan Fried)
People stand in front of the order window outside Molly Moons to order ice cream
On Saturday, July 3, 2021, people will be standing in front of the order window in front of Molly Moon’s to order ice cream. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Split photo that shows a sign on the outside of the chrysanthemum store above that says: "Masks are still required in the store as 2/2 of the clientele cannot get a vaccine." The lower photo shows the goods in the chrysanthemum.
Chrysanthemum was open but still required masks as many of the people in the store were too young to be vaccinated. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Photo of the interior of the Ark Lodge Theater concession booth.  A person fetches a drink from the vending machine while the food stall seller makes popcorn.
Ark Lodge Cinemas was open for operations on Saturday, July 3, 2021 but encouraged guests to wear their masks when moving around the theater. Visitors were able to take off their masks when they were in their seats. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Justin Pritchett, managing director of Ark Lodge Cinemas, sells popcorn to a customer.
Justin Pritchett, Managing Director of Ark Lodge Cinemas, is selling popcorn to a customer on Saturday, July 3, 2021. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Photo of behind two people previewing a movie screen and sharing popcorn.
Joyce Hartnett and Randy Rowland will preview the screening of “Summer of Soul” at the Ark Lodge Cinema on Saturday, July 3, 2021. (Photo: Susan Fried)

Up on Beacon Hill, The Station cafe was packed outside, but on a fine 70-degree day, not many people chose to be inside even though it was fully open. The station’s co-owner, Leona Moore-Rodriguez, was sitting outside at a table with her friend Zina Atwood, glad that things were almost back to normal.

Zina Atwood and Leona Moore-Rodriguez, co-owners of The Station Coffee Shop, are enjoying a lovely Saturday afternoon in July with their husband Luis on the first weekend with no COVID-19 restrictions.
Zina Atwood and Leona Moore-Rodriguez, co-owners of The Station Coffee Shop, are enjoying a lovely Saturday afternoon in July with their husband Luis on the first weekend with no COVID-19 restrictions. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Michael Alcantara and Manuel Rodriguez work behind the counter at The Station Coffee Shop.
Michael Alcantara and Manuel Rodriguez work behind the counter at The Station Coffee Shop. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Photo of the empty interior of The Station Coffee Shop.
Although people could sit in the station on Saturday, July 3, 2021, the first weekend most of the COVID-19 restrictions in Washington state were lifted, most customers chose to sit outside. (Photo: Susan Fried)

In Rainier Beach, Northwest Tap Connection’s Youth Tap Ensemble Dancers were back in their studio rehearsing for the upcoming Seattle Theater Group’s DANCE This, a virtual performance that will premiere on August 13th. Until most of the COVID-19 restrictions were recently lifted, most of the NW Tap Connections courses were online. Students enrolling in summer courses can attend in person as long as they follow health and safety protocols.

The Northwest Tap Connection Youth Tap Ensemble is rehearsing in the studio
The Northwest Tap Connection Youth Tap Ensemble will rehearse in the studio on Saturday, July 3, 2021. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Cipher Goings, a member of the Northwest Tap Connection Youth Tap Ensemble, rehearses with the group in the studio
Cipher Goings, member of the Youth Tap Ensemble of the Northwest Tap Connection, will rehearse with the group in the studio on Saturday, July 3, 2021. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Kaylee Rogers, 16, a member of the Northwest Tap Connection's Youth Tap Ensemble, rehearses with friends in the studio
Kaylee Rogers, 16, member of the Northwest Tap Connection Youth Tap Ensemble, is rehearsing with her friends in the studio on Saturday, July 3, 2021. (Photo: Susan Fried)

We’ll probably have to bring face masks for a while longer, but the lifting of most COVID-19 restrictions makes summer 2021 seem like a return to another – and possibly better – normalcy.


Susan Fried is a 40 year old veteran photographer. In addition to weddings, portraits, and commercial work that she did early in her career, she has been the Seattle photographer for Skanner Newspaper for nearly 25 years. Her images have appeared in a variety of publications including the University of Washington Daily, the Seattle Globalist, Crosscut, and others. She was a emerald Contributor since 2015. Follow her on Instagram @ fried.susan.

📸 Featured Image: Friends Bernard and Mel, regulars at Beachcomber, say they probably spend too much time there but are very happy that they can now sit at the bar and watch games and hang out together like they did before the pandemic have done. (Photo: Susan Fried)

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