Iconic Seattle fish market to close after 77 years amid rising crime, homelessness

“There haven’t been many positive things going on in this whole area down here,” he said, referencing a string of violent crimes targeting Asian Americans in their South Seattle homes.

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
An iconic Seattle fish market will be closing after more than seven decades in business, citing rising violent crime and homelessness.

Mutual Fish, which according to Eater Seattle, “introduced many innovations to the Seattle seafood scene and inspired generations of professional chefs and home cooks,” will be closing its doors for good on September 16.

The operator Harry Yoshimura told the outlet that the “last-minute decision” was made because “There’s more homeless people around and things like that. People getting shot up the street up there.”

“There haven’t been many positive things going on in this whole area down here,” he said, referencing a string of violent crimes targeting Asian Americans in their South Seattle homes, telling the outlet, “Beacon Hill is real bad now.”

Last week, the Seattle Police Department acknowledged that multiple Asian families had been the targets of home invasion-style robberies in the area that detectives believe were committed by the same group of three to seven young black men. The group is believed to have committed 14 different incidents since June.

Residents have slammed their city council representative, socialist Tammy Morales, for being MIA during the crisis. Last week, fellow council member Sarah Nelson slammed Morales during a press conference about crime in the district and said she needed to be voted out in order to improve the city. Nelson said, “I need at least four strong, compassionate pro-public safety allies on city council because it takes five votes to get anything done. I need backup. Otherwise, nothing is going to happen, nothing is going to change.”

Yoshimura also cited the labor shortage, and government-mandated closures effect on businesses in response to COVID-19 as contributors to his decision to shutter the store. Yoshimura told Fox 13, "Pre-covid you know, all the good chefs were around, and we knew them all, most of them, and everybody worked together. It was a real happy community. You have a lot of small restaurants opening up, but a lot of the major restaurants, it's real hard for them at the moment. Because in the evening, there’s not much traffic downtown." 

Rainier Avenue, where the store has been located since the 1960s, has been plagued with crime causing businesses to close. Nearby blocks hold empty lots that were formerly thriving businesses that also shuttered. Following the closure, each followed a similar pattern, vagrants moved onto the property, the empty structure burned to the ground, an encampment formed on the property before being ultimately evicted by landlords who then bulldozed and fenced the remnants.

One of those businesses was 7-11 which has been quietly closing stores across Seattle.

On Sunday, Bartell Drugs shuttered the last 24-hour drug store in the Emerald City. The location was the 6th store in the chain to close in the city in the past few years. Spiking crime and retail theft were cited as the reasons behind several of the closures. The closures have many residents drawing comparisons to San Francisco which has seen a massive exodus of businesses.

Last week, the city surpassed 2022’s total number of homicides. Homicides increased 7 percent in the first half of this year and Seattle was one of 10 cities to report an increase, even as other cities saw a decline during the same time period.  

Since 2020, crime has continued to spike in Seattle following the Seattle council’s decision to defund the police. Over 600 officers have left the department and the force is operating well below safe limits for a city its size. Large summer events have stretched the department well past its limits.
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