Some businesses still closed six months into COVID shutdowns

SPOKANE, Wash. – Wednesday marks six months since businesses across Washington shut down to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Some haven’t even reopened yet.

Governor Jay Inslee ordered all businesses to close their doors on March 16. Restaurants were only able to do take-out and delivery. Since then, many have reopened under Inslee’s Safe Start plan, however, there are still some in Spokane that still haven’t welcomed customers back, yet.

The Screaming Yak closed it’s doors 184 days ago, not knowing when it would reopen. It still hasn’t opened its doors.

No one’s sat in their chairs or played a game of pool for six months now.

“It was odd. It wasn’t something any of us were expecting. I don’t think anyone would’ve thought it would’ve lasted this long,” said Sarah Shore, an area manager. She also manages seven other restaurants in the Spokane area, which are also still closed.

When they closed down, Shore said they just wanted to keep their employees and customers safe. There have been several times in the last half year they put together a reopening plan, but then the COVID-19 situation kept changing.

Since then, they’ve continued to figure out a way to make their operations better – and safer – when they do reopen.

Shore said they’ll have contactless payment methods, digital menus and online ordering. They’ll also be stepping up cleaning and sanitizing so staff and customers will feel safe and comfortable.

“Now, we are planning on reopening all of our restaurants very soon. We’re super excited to get back into the community,” she said, adding that they’ll open some restaurants back up in just a few weeks.

That feeling of welcoming customers back will be new to the Screaming Yak when it does happen.

For others, they’ll soon be greeting their dine-in customers for the second time. That’s the case for Inland Pacific Kitchen and Hogwash Whiskey Den.

Chef CJ Callahan said when Inslee announced the shut downs, they went directly to take-out. When Spokane County moved to Phase 2 at the end of May, they reopened dine-in for several weeks.

“It was really good and then it dropped off as summer picked up and cases went up, we just naturally felt the need to stop doing anything,” he told 4 News Now.

Then, the two restaurants closed for both dine-in and take-out in late June. Carry-out resumed weeks later, but business was slower, Callahan said.

“It’s not the thing that’s going on,” he said.

However, Callahan is staying optimistic as they get ready to seat hungry customers on Thursday again. They’re asking customers to make reservations since their space is smaller.

He’s hoping people follow the rules and stay safe so they don’t have to close again.

“Everybody’s talking about 2020, anything is possible and there are no surprises anymore. It’s definitely a possibility, but I think if everybody does their part, it doesn’t have to be back to square one, because that was awful,” he said.

While all these restaurants put their finishing touches to reopen, whether it’s for the first or second time, Callahan hopes people will eat local.

“I don’t want everyone to just come here, I want everyone to go everywhere,” he said. “There’s a lot of good local restaurants that have a lot to offer, but they need the community to support them so they can make it.”

Central Food, in Kendall Yards, says it will remain closed until next year. The restaurant reopened for take-out and dine-in, but then closed again in early July.

Owner David Blaine told 4 News Now there were “too many immediate health risks” with staying open. Now that fall and winter are coming, his slower seasons, he thought it’d be best to reopen in 2021.

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