Jacqui Wright will move her popular Mezzo Thai Fusion restaurant to a smaller spot in early 2021.
Wright will close the 3,000-square-foot restaurant at 110 W. Gage Blvd. in Richland at the end of December. She plans to announce a new location in January.
Fans can support Mezzo Thai by ordering meals for pickup or delivery until it closes, by buying gift certificates and purchasing tables and other furnishings that will not be needed at the new location.
“I’m not going anywhere,” said Wright, who learned the art of Thai cuisine growing up in Thailand. She has lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years, after a 14-year stop in England.
Wright said Mezzo Thai is a casualty of the pandemic.
It opened in 2003 and moved to the Gage Boulevard location in Richland about seven years ago. The business was poised for a strong year in 2020, before the Covid-19 crisis prompted Gov. Jay Inslee to order successive halts to in-person dining and other activities.
Mezzo Thai relied on diners attracted to the restaurant for good food and live music. The formula did not work with takeout and delivery. Business fell and delivery services took a 30% cut of the bill.
The margins were not strong enough to cover the rent. Wright said she fell behind for the first time in seven years.
She said business rebounded as the Tri-Cities moved through the phases of the Safe Start program.
When the Tri-Cities reached Phase 2, which allowed restaurants to open at 50% capacity, she was thrilled. Mezzo Thai was able to catch up enough to resume paying rent.
The reprieve proved temporary.
Inslee imposed a new round of restrictions in November as Covid-19 infection rates surged. On Dec. 8, he extended the restrictions to Jan. 4 as the number of unoccupied intensive care beds evaporated statewide.
As she contemplates a new location, she is working to address the financial chaos left by the pandemic. A Paycheck Protection Program loan covered about a month’s worth of salaries, not enough to sustain the business.
Despite the challenges, Wright is confident that downsizing to a smaller location will pay off when the pandemic passes.
“The good days will come back. I don’t know when it will be back, but I’m confident it will be good again,” she said.
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