‘The reality of letting go is simply too painful’: Owner of Chaps Diner shares concern for survival of local businesses

SPOKANE, Wash. — “I have to hope that we matter in some other alternative economy; that we are still a thread in the fabric that might unravel if you yanked us from the weave.”

Longtime restaurant owner Celeste Shaw shared that hopeful quote from Philip Montgomery of The New York Times in a post to social media Friday. Shaw then offered her own heartfelt response to the new COVID-19 restrictions, already hitting many small businesses hard during the pandemic.

RELATED: Small local businesses suffering from new  COVID-19 restrictions

“Everybody’s saying that restaurants won’t make it back, that we won’t survive. I imagine this is at least partly true: Not all of us will make it, and not all of us will perish. But I can’t easily discern the determining factors, even though thinking about which restaurants will survive — and why — has become an obsession these past weeks. What delusional mind-set am I in that I just do not feel that this is the end, that I find myself convinced that this is only a pause, if I want it to be? The conversation about how restaurants will continue to operate, given the rising costs of running them has been terrifying, and I want to remain in denial as we navigate. The reality of letting go is simply [too] painful. Shoulder to Shoulder we are all in mourning as we read daily restaurant obituaries. I’m not sure there is a survival answer, changes have transcended from weekly and daily to hourly.”

Chaps Covid

In accordance with new restrictions, bars and restaurants will no longer be allowed to offer indoor seating. Outdoor seating will be allowed as long as proper safety protocols are followed. That means tables will be limited to no more than five people at a time. Customers can still order to-go.

4 News Now spoke with Shaw in May, amid the state’s first phase of COVID-19 restrictions. At that time, Shaw described her restaurant of 17 years as a “ghost town.” She said they had exhausted nearly every resource they had left waiting for Phase 2 of Governor Inslee’s “Safe Start” plan. At that point in the pandemic, Chaps laid off all their employees.

“You may have to change your menu, you have to change your staffing, you change your hours. You will accommodate in every way just to somehow determine how to move forward and create some profit and take baby steps to get back to where we were,” Shaw said.

Chaps has been inviting diners inside the bakery since the end of May.

PAST COVERAGE: Longtime restaurant struggling during shutdown 

READ: Local business owners call on Spokane-area lawmakers, asking Gov. Inslee to rethink latest restrictions