‘We want to be able to do it right’: Spokane Co. restaurants allowed to reopen with restrictions
SPOKANE, Wash.– The wait is over for Spokane County restaurants who’ve anxiously waited to serve patrons in dining rooms. On Friday morning, leaders announced Spokane County was approved to advance to phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan immediately.
Governor Jay Inslee announced earlier this week that larger counties could move to phase 2 if they met certain requirements; counties with fewer than 10 new cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day span are eligible. Spokane County met those requirements.
A variety of businesses and activities can resume under this phase, including dining inside restaurants.
There are pages of restrictions that businesses will have to follow to reopen. It’s been a tall order for Joe’s House, in Millwood. The eatery offering southwestern-inspired food opened at the end of January, just weeks before the pandemic forced a statewide shutdown.
Co-owners Chas Elliott and Joe Van Voorhis said they quickly pivoted from a sit-down bar and restaurant to take-out only. Now, most of their experience at Joe’s House has been to-go, so they’re taking their time to safely reopen to diners.
“We didn’t want to react and just open,” Elliott said. “We want to be able to do it right.”
The two men are eager to get their restaurant back to normal and see their customers though. They hope to open up to in-house dining on June 2.
“We’ve been set up for to-go for over two months, so now we’re going to have all these people in front of us and it’s going to be emotional, as far as very positive,” Van Voorhis said.
Seats are already filling up at Brick West Brewing Co. The downtown Spokane brewery was ready to open with safety measures in place within hours of the announcement Friday.
But, the company had to pour over new state rules before pouring pints.
Some of the new restrictions include limiting tables to a maximum of five people. Bar seating is prohibited during stage 2. The state is also requiring tables be at least six feet apart. Employees are also mandated to wear facial coverings and diners are asked to do the same while they’re waiting in line or walking around the room.
“Now, we just gotta staff up and go for it and provide that safe beer drinking experience,” Carpenter said.
Safety is key as businesses start to reopen, according to Washington Hospitality Association President and CEO Anthony Anton.
“We’re all in this together. Be safe,” Anton said. “Make phase 2 stick, so we can get to phase 3.”
Small businesses are depending on a smooth reopening. Some restaurant owners have said they will still struggle to pay their bills even at the 50 percent capacity limit during phase 2.
“It could be up to a year before some of these restaurants just pay off the debt that has occurred during these windows,” Anton said. “So, the more we can help them get through this, the more we can help them get caught up.”
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