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caption: In this March 5, 2019, photo Esmeralda Chapparro, a Starbucks barista, makes a Cloud Macchiato coffee drink as she works at a store in the company's headquarters building in Seattle's Sodo neighborhood. The new drink was introduced earlier in the month.
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In this March 5, 2019, photo Esmeralda Chapparro, a Starbucks barista, makes a Cloud Macchiato coffee drink as she works at a store in the company's headquarters building in Seattle's Sodo neighborhood. The new drink was introduced earlier in the month.
Credit: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Restrictions on gatherings hit Seattle where it lives: coffee shops

One of Seattle’s most celebrated pleasures - hanging out in coffee shops - is over for now. Governor Jay Inslee tightened restrictions on public gatherings to include all kinds of hangouts.

The announcement capped a period of turmoil in coffee shops. Those positioned near offices and schools suffered as workers and students were sent home. Other coffee shops were full as some displaced office workers preferred to use them as home offices.

That was what happened at Macrina Bakery & Cafe in Capitol Hill, where sales have been down but tables have been full for weeks. All that changed on Sunday night, when Macrina's president, Scott France, noticed a tweet from Inslee saying more restrictions on gatherings were coming and that hours counted.

In a scene being repeated by chains such as Starbucks as well as much smaller shops, Macrina responded by clearing away chairs and transforming into a coffee-to-go business.

Still, France observed, “We had some folks today, who were unhappy that they couldn’t sit but finally understood that it wasn’t their choice.”

For Macrina the changes mean cuts in workers' hours but no layoffs. Grocery stores are doing heavy business, however, and France talked about trying to free workers so they can find more income going to where the work is.

Seattle’s daily rhythms are changing. Inslee's latest order also means indoor fitness clubs are throwing in the towel. Yoga classes, once thinning, are disappearing or moving online. Seattle is losing - temporarily - some of its favorite things.