Restaurants, bars navigate month without indoor dining

SPOKANE, Wash. — For the second time this year, Governor Inslee has forced restaurants and bars to close indoor dining. Business owners have to figure out a way to survive with these new rules.

Many have turned to outdoor seating, but it’s hard with rainy days like what people saw in Spokane on Wednesday.

“It’s a lot of just taking cupcakes, throwing them against the wall and see what sticks,” said Jory Hustad, Food and Beverage Director of the Checkerboard Tap Room. “I think we all mentally need to have some sort of break from being inside all the time and working from home.”

That’s why they’re working on adding heaters to their outdoor area behind the tap room.

“Here at Checkerboard we were fortunate to take on this gazebo that we inherited,” Hustad said. “It’s huge for us because we’re now able to able to offer full service outdoors.”

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Inside the tap room, Hustad said they were only able to keep one employee out of eight.

“It’s disheartening, especially in a brand new location you get employees very excited about a new concept and they’re all new faces to us,” he explained.

To keep customers flowing in, Hustad said they’re working on doing different craft to-go cocktails, virtual entertainment and something similar to a bar crawl. People would go to different bars around Spokane and get a discount.

“It’s vital for us here, especially being brand new,” he said. “Hopefully we can get people to hang out outside here, bundle up and again, think tanks. Get creative with fire pits or however it works for code and stuff like that.”

Checkerboard isn’t the only bar working on its patio.

At Flying Goat, the owner is renovating his restaurant’s patio. Luckily, Jonathan Sweatt ordered six heaters in September, not even thinking about the possibility of another shutdown.

” It’s just an energy that can’t be replicated when you actually have that face-to-face and being able to have people coming in and just enjoying that experience again,” Sweatt said.

Adam Shove, the restaurant’s chef said it’s not only about the food, but the experience. Shove is one of the several employees Sweatt was able to keep employed. Out of 25, three were laid off. This is a big step as everyone was laid off for a month during the first shutdown.

“A business isn’t successful without its staff and I think that’s what’s most important to us,” Sweatt said. “It’s a team effort and if you lose just one then you’re not successful.”

The covered patio will have six to seven tables and it should be done by Thursday night.

“This allows us this round to actually have those guests that want to get out of their home,” Sweatt said. “We understand that so many people feel claustrophobic after a while and they’re able to come down and actually still get that interaction that I think is so important.”

Sweatt is encouraging everyone to stick together through what’s been a rough year for everyone.

“I would just say continue to support your local restaurants and your local small businesses because we will not get through if we don’t all do it together,” he explained. “You know, 2020 has stretched us all thin, but you know, we will get through it.”

The restrictions ordered by Gov. Inslee are expected to last through at least December 14.

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