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Inslee’s regulations won’t enable one Seattle family’s restaurants to reopen

Restaurants have only been allowed to offer take-out and delivery services under the stay-at-home order in Washington, but can resume dine-in service at 50 percent capacity in Phase 2. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

At a recent press conference, Governor Jay Inslee discussed getting restaurants opened during Phase 2 of the reopening process, even as he admitted he’d unlikely take his own family to a restaurant. Anthony Gallo’s family owns two restaurants in Seattle — the Hawks’ Nest and Pioneer Tacos & Tequila — both near CenturyLink Field and T-Mobile Park. He says the reopening regulations will not actually allow them to reopen.

“When these initial lock-downs on large gatherings went into effect, which was a couple of weeks before restaurants were ordered essentially to close, we would have effectively already been closed,” Gallo said. “So much of our business is dependent on these events and large gatherings that these continued lock-downs are completely crushing us.”

“It put my wife and my father in law in a very tough position where now they have to basically find new jobs, and you know, these restaurants were their entire lives. Everything that they owned, all of their energy, all of their time was dumped and put into these businesses.”

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Further driving the frustration is the regulations outlined in Inslee’s phased reopening plan, which Gallo says would make it difficult to even operate, let alone stay open.

“What’s even more mind blowing is the regulations that have been implemented on restaurants if they want to reopen. How is a restaurant supposed to open at 50% capacity and make a profit?” he said. “I think a lot of people are under this presumption that business owners and restaurant owners are just these rich people who can afford to be shut down, but continue to pay their employees, when that’s not the case.”

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“We’re just regular people, like thousands of other small business owners around the state … and not only that, but if we have to pay 100% of our rent and 100% of our taxes operating at 50% capacity, there’s just no way that we can do it,” Gallo added.

Beyond operating challenges, Gallo says that the governor’s announcement that restaurants need to take people’s information is only going to discourage people from showing up in the first place.

“Requiring that restaurants take down all of this personal information from people is just further discouraging people from wanting to go out and patronize our businesses,” he said. “It makes no sense. Why do I have to give my information to a restaurant to sit down in a booth that has already been cleaned and sanitized under regular standards?”

“Yet, I don’t have to do anything when I walk into the grocery store with hundreds of other people who have been picking up the fruit and all these other items and touching it, and then putting it back on the shelves,” Gallo said. “The restaurant industry already adheres to very high standards from the Department of Health, so we’re already very safe, and there’s no reason for this.”

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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