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Wrapped in plexiglass, Seattle's Jazz Alley prepares to open in April

Live music has vanished in the pandemic. Night clubs are struggling. And Jazz Alley, the nationally known music dinner club in downtown Seattle has been closed for a year. The staff is eagerly waiting for the opportunity to re-open.

Dizzy Gillespie has graced the jazz alley stage along with Oscar Peterson and Betty Carter. And they expanded to other artists like Dr. John Kenny G and Tower of Power.

Ari Dimitriou, now a business student at Seattle University, was born into Seattle Jazz Alley.

"My father and my mother came together, and they opened a club in the University District in 1979," he said. The club opened a Pioneer Square branch before moving to its current location on Sixth Avenue downtown.

Dimitriou grew up at the club. He bussed tables when he was 14, listening to live music almost every night of his childhood.

"Just the thought of going a year without hearing live music one time, it's devastating," he said.

"The community here is so profound, you know, it's the best crew we've ever had. These people, they feel like family," he said.

Dimitriou says that almost as soon as they closed the Jazz Alley, crew began to prepare for reopening in a new normal. They bought large, stand-up thermometers to take people's temperatures.

"We have plexiglass wrapped around all of our tables here," he said. "We have our stage wrapped in plexiglass."

With no revenue, how can they balance the books?

"Luckily, you know, we've had wonderful landlords that have worked with us," he said. "We've really been blessed with our situation here. But it's certainly been a lesson."

Dimitriou says Jazz Alley put the kitchen to work late last April. It started with a low-income feeding program for local shelters.

"It's become a very successful program," he said, serving nearly 125,000 to 150,000 meals to date. "Today we did a fried chicken meal. It's quite delicious!"

Although it's impractical for nightclubs to reopen at 25% capacity, Jazz Alley plans to resume shows in late April. Dimitriou says he believes a large cultural expansion will follow this contraction.

"We think the music industry is in line for a real Renaissance," he said.

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