‘I just didn’t know how huge it would get’: Boots Bakery sees both support and backlash over vaccine requirement

SPOKANE, Wash. – The small list of restaurants requiring vaccinations is growing in Spokane.

Boots Bakery on Main Avenue is the newest place to require it for people who want to dine in.

The last 20 months of the pandemic have been a tough ride for business owners like Alison Collins. Boots Bakery hasn’t had anyone dine-in since it started.

Collins felt like now is the right time to reopen, but is requiring proof of vaccinations for those who want to eat inside.

“We’re so tiny and people sit in here for hours. It’s a coffee shop, so it’s not like, eat something and then leave. People are here for a long time, and we just thought it was a safer option for us and for our customers,” Collins said.

When she announced the requirement late last week on social media, people were not happy with it.

“Hates people with healthy immune systems,” one person wrote.

“Bakeries shouldn’t be giving medical advice. I hope they’re excited about their future bankruptcy due to no patrons,” another wrote.

“It was like stabbing my heart. Pretty rough,” Collins said.

Some of her long-time customers said they didn’t want to come there anymore, too.

“I guess I just didn’t know how huge it would get. I knew there’d be some people who’d get upset, but I guess I thought they’d just choose not to come here, which is also heartbreaking for me,” she said.

However, long-time customer Adam Neder supported Collins’ decision.

“It seems like a minor inconvenience. And it seems like there are good reasons for people to be vaccinated, obviously, but also, in a confined space, to make sure the folks around you are vaccinated too. It seems safer,” he said.

All restaurants in King County require proof of vaccinations. In Spokane County, just a handful do.

The requirement has been in place for a few months at Neato Burrito and Baby Bar. The owner there says backlash and negative comments, for the most part, subsided with time. The owner says it’s gotten easier as people understand what they’re doing now.

It’s something Collins is already seeing as the days have passed since she announced the requirement. She says she’s people have come out in “droves” to support Boots Bakery.

“The outpouring of support has been incredible from other local businesses, and our customers. We were so busy this weekend, we got flowers, lots of messages. It’s been incredible,” she said.

People do not need to show proof of vaccination if they want to order to-go or sit outside, Collins added.

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