Open letter to Gov. Inslee points out the flaws in pandemic restaurant regulations
Dan Austin, owner of Peel and Press in the Morgan Junction and The Flight Path in Boulevard Park wrote an open letter to Governor Jay Inslee regarding what he sees as serious flaws in the regulations now in place due the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are a restaurant owner you can sign on to the letter by providing the owner and business name to Dan@peelandpressws.com
Dear Governor Inslee,
I am writing you today on behalf of myself and my peers in the Restaurant and Bar industry. We are in desperate need of your attention and assistance as we navigate these current times. We have been considered essential from day one and have continued to feed our communities and keep our employees safe while navigating everchanging protocols. I write to you out of grave concern for both our industry and our communities. I hope you will take the time to reflect on this letter, speak with your subject matter experts and please consider reaching out to me with any questions or concerns you may have that I can address.
The first of my concerns is the 10pm service cutoff. I understand the reasoning behind this policy, but I need to tell you what it looks like from the view of a restaurant and bar owner. We announce last call at 9:35pm. We then proceed to listen to people get upset and question the policy like I personally am the one who created it. That lasts about 5 minutes and then everyone starts game planning who’s house they are going to after we close. This is the part that is of grave concern to all of us. When someone is at my establishment, they must follow all protocols, or they are removed from the premise. I have 2-3 staff policing the environment and we achieve compliance with minimal to no issues. Clearly after-hours gatherings happening around a bonfire or in a house are meeting nearly none of the requirements.
- Who is constantly sanitizing?
- Who is serving them to ensure food & beverage items are safe?
- Who controls the consumption of alcohol?
- Who is social distancing them from people they may not know?
- Who controls the size of the group?
The folks hosting these gatherings are not walking around enforcing mask wearing, social distancing, sanitation practices and are certainly not trained in cutting people off from over service. As we have seen on the news lately, house parties, Fraternity events and the like are of large concern. What is missing from those gatherings are the professional service staff and ownership groups committed to facilitating social environments safely. I am asking for a reconsideration of your 10pm policy and request 2am closing times be reinstated. Even at a minimum, a 12am timeframe would help facilitate evenings out without later evolving into after hour house gatherings.
- We mandate that they wear a mask anytime not at the table.
- We constantly sanitize things they touch.
- The food and beverage items are prepared for them & served safely.
- We limit the amount of people they engage with.
- We are the safety net around the virus at a much higher level than if they were at home with friends.
- We have the capacity to work swiftly with Public Health if there is an issue. Several operators have proven our efficiency in safety.
The second concern is a harsh economic reality of the collective policies that have been put in place. When you layer the 50% capacity requirements on top of the 10pm service cutoff you reduce a bars ability to generate revenue by close to 80%. This is an economically unsustainable course. The busiest times for bar establishments is roughly 9pm- 1am. Happy Hour is not really a business segment at this time as people working from home. We do not get that regular 3pm-6pm commuter traffic stopping in for services. When you put limited commuter traffic together with cutting the majority of our revenue generating hours you sentence our industry to a slow and painful path that leads to closure. You have also removed the ability to generate revenue via gaming. Darts, billiards and video games are all forms of passive income that have been removed from revenue stream. If customers are already restricted to only dining indoors with a member of my household then how is playing a game of darts or pool with them a safety risk? I promise you I can keep my 7 games just as sanitized as a grocery store keeps their 100 plus carts, handled by way more people than play the games at my bar.
The reality is many restaurant and bars are not going to make it and at this point the regulations are the largest contributing factor to what will cause the closures. None of us want to endanger the public and we also don’t want to lose our livelihoods and life savings because of policy that is not having its intended impact. I spent a lot of time and money redesigning my business, adding outdoor spaces and creating the distancing you have asked for. All I ask is that you trust me and my fellow owners to follow the mask requirements and distancing protocols you have asked for and for you to give us back our hours so we can survive. These closing hours are causing more of an issues than they are solving and I promise you we can be a solution to that problem. Please don’t legislate to the lowest common denominator. If someone is willfully violating the rules, suspend their license. Open us back up while we can still have a chance to survive. That window is quickly closing, and we are about to lose our useable outdoor space in the next few months due to weather. We have put our trust in this state to be a place we can do business and achieve the dream of owning a small business. Please take the reasonable steps necessary to give us a chance to continue to serve our communities, retain our employees, generate revenue for the state and make a living.
Thanks in advance for your actions to support us,
Peel and Press