Friends Bernard and Mel sitting at the bar at the Beachcomber, laughing and smiling

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

by Susan Fried


The Fourth of July weekend was also the first official weekend that King County dropped all COVID-19 restrictions, and many people in South Seattle were excited to finally go to their favorite places, sit down across from friends and family, and take their masks off (as long as they’d been vaccinated). 

Individual businesses could ask customers to wear masks, but many allowed those who had been vaccinated to go mask free, trusting them to be honest about whether they’d been vaccinated or not. Some businesses chose to ask patrons to continue wearing masks while others opted to not fully open.

For many South End residents, things almost felt like they were back to a pre-pandemic normal.  

Pat B., who’s been living in Skyway for 50 years and coming to the Beachcomber Sports Bar and Grill for more than 20 years, was happy to be back in her favorite neighborhood establishment on July 2. 

Pat B., a Beachcomber regular, laughs with friends on Friday, July 2, 2021, the first weekend that most COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in Washington. Pat who has been coming to the Beachcomber for over 20 years was happy to be able to be back at her favorite watering hole with her friends. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Pat B. (left) and Mel Robbins (right), longtime Beachcomber regulars, enjoy some beverages and food on the first weekend the restaurant has been opened with no restrictions. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Beachcomber Sports Bar and Grill regular Pat B. (left) and owner Judy (right) step outside into the outdoor patio on the Friday of the first weekend of most Covid-19 restrictions being lifted in Washington State. (Photo: Susan Fried)

She wasn’t the only one at the Beachcomber who had missed being there. Friends Bernard and Mel said that it was the best bar in Seattle and that anybody could come there and feel safe and welcomed. They were glad to be back inside sitting at the bar and watching ESPN on TV.

Friends Bernard and Mel, regulars at the 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 pre-pandemic. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Beachcomber Bar and Grill bartender Jason De La Rosa pours a drink. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Beachcomber Sports Bar and Grill trusts its customers to be honest about their vaccination status. (Photo: Susan Fried)

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

Columbia City was starting to feel alive again.

A Island Soul server goes back inside the restaurant after taking an order from a customer sitting in the outside patio area on Saturday, July 3, 2021. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Island Soul Restaurant bartender Geoff pours a drink for a customer on July 3, 2021, the first Saturday of no COVID-19 restrictions. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Island Soul Restaurant was busy July 3, 2021, the first official Saturday with no COVID-19 restrictions. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Molly Moon’s has not yet opened up the store for customers, but people can order ice cream through an opening in the door. (Photo: Susan Fried)
A customer puts her mask on before ordering ice cream at Molly Moon’s on Saturday, July 3, 2021. (Photo: Susan Fried)
People line up in front of the order window outside of Molly Moon’s to order ice cream on Saturday, July 3, 2021. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Chrysanthemum was open but still required masks because many of the people in the store were too young to be vaccinated. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Ark Lodge Cinemas was open for business on Saturday, July 3, 2021, but asked patrons to wear their masks when they moved around the theatre. Patrons could remove their masks when they were in their seats. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Justin Pritchett, managing director for Ark Lodge Cinemas, sells a customer some popcorn on Saturday, July 3, 2021. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Joyce Hartnett and Randy Rowland watch a preview before the screening of “Summer of Soul” at Ark Lodge Cinema on Saturday, July 3, 2021. (Photo: Susan Fried)

Up on Beacon Hill, The Station coffee shop was busy on the outside but on a beautiful mid-70 degree day, not many people chose to be inside even though it was fully open for business. The Station co-owner Leona Moore-Rodriguez sat at a table outside with her friend Zina Atwood, happy to have things almost back to normal.  

Zina Atwood and Leona Moore-Rodriguez, co-owner of The Station Coffee Shop, with her husband Luis, enjoy a beautiful July Saturday afternoon on the first weekend without COVID-19 restrictions. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Michael Alcantara and Manuel Rodriguez work behind the counter at The Station Coffee Shop. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Even though people could sit inside The Station on Saturday, July 3, 2021, the first weekend most COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in Washington State, most of the customers chose to sit outside. (Photo: Susan Fried)

In Rainier Beach, Northwest Tap Connection’s Youth Tap Ensemble Dancers were back at their studio rehearsing for the upcoming Seattle Theatre Group’s ’s DANCE This, a virtual performance that will premiere Aug. 13. Until the recent removal of most of the COVID-19 restrictions, most of NW Tap Connections classes had been online. Students signing up for summer classes will be able to attend in person as long as they follow health and safety protocols.  

The Northwest Tap Connection’s Youth Tap Ensemble rehearses in the studio on Saturday, July 3, 2021. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Cipher Goings, a member of the Northwest Tap Connection’s Youth Tap Ensemble, rehearses 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 her friends in the studio on Saturday, July 3, 2021. (Photo: Susan Fried)

We’ll probably still need to bring face masks with us for a while, but the removal of most COVID-19 restrictions is making the summer of 2021 look like a return to a different  — and possibly better  — normal.


Susan Fried is a 40-year veteran photographer. Her early career included weddings, portraits, commercial work — plus shes been The Skanner’s Seattle photographer for 25 years. Her images have appeared in the University of Washington Daily, the Seattle Globalist, Crosscut, and many more. She’s been an Emerald contributor since 2015. Follow her on Instagram @fried.susan.

Featured Image: Friends Bernard and Mel, regulars at the 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 pre-pandemic. (Photo: Susan Fried)

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