Growing COVID-19 concerns force several Spokane restaurants to temporarily close

SPOKANE, Wash. — An increase in COVID-19 cases in Spokane County has restaurant owners rethinking the best options for their staff and customers.

Several have temporarily closed for multiple reasons such as COVID-19 infections or because of the growing number of cases. One restaurant that had to close for a day was Remedy in the South Hill.

“We had several employees over the weekend that felt that they had been exposed to somebody that had tested positive and they were going to go and get tested,” said Matt Goodwin, the owner, “and until we had the results back, we did not feel comfortable opening.”

They closed on Monday for a deep cleaning. On Tuesday, they opened back up and the restaurant was staffed with employees who had negative test results. Those still waiting for results are still at home.

Other restaurants have also been hit by COVID-19 infections or concerns:

  • At Borracho Tacos, 34 people tested positive for the virus
  • Nectar Wine and Beer had one employee test positive
  • The Scoop on the South Hill is temporarily closing this week for walk-ins due to “growing public health concerns”
  • Inland Pacific Kitchen and Hogwash Whiskey Den will temporarily close all dine in and take-out because of an increase in cases
  • Central Food will temporarily close at the end of the week due to safety and financial concerns
  • Method Juice Café is temporarily closed out of “an abundance of caution,” though no employees have tested positive

Since the start of the pandemic, opening and closing hasn’t been easy for Remedy.

“It was a big learning curve,” Goodwin said. “We had to adjust our business model quite a bit and it certainly wasn’t a sustainable business model, but it was a — really good in order to keep my employees working, our doors open and keep a public presence within the community.”

He said if Phase 1 had gone on for another two months, they probably would’ve closed. During the shutdown, Goodwin said take-out was going alright. Sales were down 75%, but the community support drove them to surviving.

“The community support was fantastic,” he said. “We were — I was blown away by how busy we were and the amount of people that were coming through our doors still.”

Phase 2 was a different battle between following guidelines and operating at a different function.

“Our food is fresh and perishable, so if we do a big order of food one day and we have to close for two or three days, a lot of that is going to get wasted or not be able to used and that’s money down the drain for us,” Goodwin said. “I’m open today. I’m not open tomorrow. I’m closed for lunch today, but open for dinner tonight, which is a challenge in of all itself.”

Goodwin said Remedy is at least $1,000 in the hole in just food waste. He explained that a restaurant profit margin is anywhere between 4-12%, but that’s with 100% capacity.

He explained that they’re continuing to follow all Phase 2 requirements and even going beyond that. His employees have their temperatures checked and they sign a form stating they have not been around anyone with COVID-19. Goodwin has also given customers the option to sign a clipboard, which could be used for contact tracing.

The bottom line for Remedy is going to depend on the community.

“If the support we’ve had over the last few weeks continues, I think we can navigate Phase 2 for several months for sure,” he said. “If the community starts to hunker down a little more and stay home, it’s going to be a different story.”

He said the goal right now is to hopefully break even and ride this out.

We’re going to play by the rules and go above and beyond in order to get our capacity up and more businesses open and the spread of COVID down,” Goodwin explained.

READ: Spokane County tops record again with 81 new COVID-19 cases in last 24 hours

READ: Washington Dept of Health: We’re still not seeing the biggest mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic

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