Burlington pub owner told to close, with open garage door walls violating restrictions

Jan 7, 2021, 5:05 AM | Updated: 7:46 am
pub, garage...
A restaurant stands empty and closed in a shuttered business district in Brooklyn on May 12, 2020, in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

As Washington state’s COVID restrictions continue and restaurants must remain closed to indoor dining, some business owners have expressed they can’t survive on to-go and outdoor service alone.

Gold Bar diner latest to defy COVID restrictions and open indoor dining

Nick Crandall owns Railroad Pub and Pizza and Trainwreck Bar in Burlington. After struggling to make it work with only takeout, Crandall told The Dori Monson Show that he decided to shutdown the bar and focus on Railroad Pub and Pizza.

He opened up the garage doors at the pub, “plenty of airflow going through here, and everything’s been going pretty good,” Crandall said. “I got contacted by the liquor board and the liquor board said, you know, we had a complaint, but you’re legit to stay open. I said cool. And then I got a letter from L&I on Thursday that we had to sign for, and they just kind of said I’m not able to be open.”

“This is a structure, not outside dining, because I don’t have two by fours and tarps,” Crandall said. “So that’s maybe what they want.”

He sent the letter from the Department of Labor & Industries to the liquor board to verify that it was real, and they contacted him back saying that, yes, L&I says he’s not able to stay open because the garage doors count as a permanent structure.

Crandall says it’s been stressful to try and stay afloat through the shutdowns, plus he has 70 employees he wants to keep employed.

“The crappy part is when you shut down, these employees, … they’re starting to wonder about their careers,” he said. “And then I’m worried about losing people by laying them off. And I’m trying to hold on to these guys, and they’re super important. They’re the heart of the business, the kitchen, and my front of the house people, and I’m just, you know, there’s just so much to it.”

“It’s got to be impossible to deal with the state that says a tarped-in tent is OK and huge garage doors being open is not,” Dori replied.

Crandall agreed, and expressed that it seems like there could be some sort of official measurement provided as to what can be considered as outdoor seating, “100 square feet on each side of your opening,” for example.

“Instead, I have a solid structure. I mean, I have five garage doors that are like, you know, way beyond, way beyond what I would need for airflow,” he said. “I’m pretty confident I only need one garage door open on both sides.”

“When I opened up the Trainwreck … 12 years ago. I had to take money out, borrow money against the house, I took my 401K out, I maxed out like seven credit cards,” Crandall said. “I did everything I could to open that place up. And then you’re hoping to get rewarded. And when you get rewarded, you know, you deserve it.”

He adds that he’s had great employees who have helped him get to where he is now, too.

“But it really makes my job hard when they keep shutting us down like this, you know?”

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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Burlington pub owner told to close, with open garage door walls violating restrictions