Customers share final toast as local bar prepares for second COVID-19 closure

MILLWOOD, Wash. — It was a bittersweet night for bars and restaurants across the state of Washington on Tuesday. 

Another round of COVID-19 closures means you won’t be able to grab a drink or dinner inside your favorite spot until at least December 14. The Washington Hospitality Association says the closure will leave at least 100,000 people without a job right before the holidays. 

Joe’s House opened in February, several weeks before the first shutdown. Even though it’s been a rocky year, they have built up a base of repeat customers. Many of them have stopped by in the last three days to say goodbye, for now. 

Drinks poured at the restaurant with only a few hours to spare. 

“Everybody here, they’re family,” said Jodi Taylor. “It’s my family.” 

Taylor has been one of the many local patrons of the Millwood bar since it opened last February. 

“When he opened I came in here, he asked me my name and he never forgot it,” said Taylor. 

Weeks before the holidays, Joe Van Voorhis and his business partner have no choice but to shut down and lay off four employees. 

“I was scared for winter, we both were,” said Van Voorhis. “We didn’t know what was going to happen with the winter and it’s here and it’s definitely scary; luckily I have a great wife and family.”

Van Voorhis stayed open for takeout food and drinks last March during the first shut down. It’s not something he’ll be doing this time around. 

“It was hard and it’s.. It wasn’t really worth it financially,” said Van Voorhis. 

The shut down lasts until at least December 14, unless Governor Inslee decides to extend it. 

“I think it’s really important that we support the local. You know, the chains are going to survive but the local establishments need us,” said Van Voorhis. 

Before Gov. Inslee ordered the second shutdown, the WHA predicted roughly one in three restaurants across the state would close for good by the end of the pandemic.

READ: ‘It’s a lot more painful the second time around’: Restaurants prepare for new COVID-19 guidelines