Story update from Sept. 27, 2023:

SNOHOMISH —  Three restaurants told to straighten out the permits for their tents approached the City Council seeking a solution as the weather is turning, saying they'll lose business if they lose the tents.
The city's building official warned eight restaurants such as Roger's Riverview Bistro, Andy's Fish House and Jake's Cafe that their temporary structures, such as tents, might not meet code. It's because the city doesn't have permits on file for them, the cty's form letter says. The city said it also notified Uptown Winery, Snotown Brewery, Thai and Taps, Hops n Drops and Brava's Pizza.
A working copy of a followup notice still in development at the city outlined two choices: Either tear down the structure soon or work toward a compliance plan with the city about the structure and its permits.
Roger Eydt, the owner and head chef at Roger's, said he's happy to work with the city. He was surprised, though, when the city's newly hired code enforcer handed him a warning letter in early August, since he's had his tent bolted to the restaurant's deck for nine years without any issues.
Its deck seating overlooking the river is one of its prime features. Its tent serves a purpose all year, Eydt said: It shades from heat in summer, and keeps in warmth in winter. Its maker says it is wind-rated and fire-rated.
At Andy's Fish House, its outdoor seating makes for half of its revenue, restaurant co-owner Andy Gibbs said, and that’s critical during the rainy season with Snohomish entering the fall tourism months. Andy's is built inside a former car service garage; it seats just 25 indoors, its front-of-house manager said.
Gibbs told the City Council last week he hopes he won't have to resort to laying people off because of lost revenue.
Before the pandemic, Andy's paid an engineering firm to specially design a tent on its patio that would meet wind and fire safety standards, co-owner Bronn Journey said.
Jake's put its tent up in its parking lot during the coronavirus pandemic at a time when state restrictions spaced out how close diners could be near each other.
Jake’s owners and other restaurateurs pleaded their case to City Council last week.
Mayor Linda Redmon replied to them that, "we want to work with you to get you into compliance ... for the safety of your patrons."
Eydt said that's great. "I want the city to work with me," he said.
The City Council shouldn’t intervene about the code enforcement work on the businesses’ behalf because the city has life safety and permitting policies, but there may be solutions to explore such as granting the restaurants a conditional use permit, City Councilwoman Lea Anne Burke said in an on-the-street interview. She's worked as a land use planner handling permits and zoning for the Tulalip Tribes government.
For the restaurants downtown, the permitting process would likely include getting approval from the volunteer Design Review Board which evaluates design aesthetics.