’25-percent capacity will guarantee 100-percent failure’; Spokane restaurants push to reopen

Downtown Spokane On Riverside With Red Car And Buildings

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane restaurants and the Washington Hospitality Association are pushing for Governor Inslee to bump up restaurant capacity to 50-percent, saying take-out options simply aren’t enough.

Restaurant owners have decried Inslee’s reopening plan as a “roadmap to restaurant closures on a massive scale.”

Already, spots from Garageland to Geno’s, Wandering Table to Prospectors Bar & Grill, Rocky Rococo to Tomato Street have closed in the wake of financial devastation coming from what now approaches a full year of closures during the pandemic.

“25-percent capacity will guarantee 100-percent failure,” said David’s Pizza owner, Mark Starr.

Starr and other restauranteurs — including The Onion and Frank’s Diner owner Ken Belisle and Washington Hospitality Association Chair Derek Baziotis — are calling for the Governor to bump up indoor capacity to 50-percent, arguing that while private settings have been the epicenter of COVID outbreaks, restaurants have not.

These restaurants argue that they can better enforce mask mandates and keep people safe, but not while they are closed.

The Washington Hospitality Association issued the following statement after Inslee’s extension earlier in January:

“Today’s announcement is not a roadmap to recovery. It is a roadmap to a near-complete collapse of main street neighborhood restaurants and hospitality businesses…. We know that the increase in cases over the last two months is due to private social behavior – not restaurants. In fact, restaurants provide a place with effective protections that allow people to gather safely, but not while we’re closed.

Both the local spot and the Hospitality Association press release stress that the hospitality industry is trying to work with the Governor’s plan. Their problem is the capacity limit, and the ‘take-out only’ limit will not support these local businesses much longer.

Two sixty-second spots have been created by local restaurant owners and can be viewed as a PSA on local television and their Facebook page: Re-Open Restaurants.”