Chehalis restaurant that racked up $400,000 in fines over COVID rules to close permanently

Aug 3, 2021, 8:20 AM | Updated: 12:48 pm
Spiffy's Restaurant in Chehalis. (Courtesy photo)
(Courtesy photo)

Spiffy’s Restaurant & Bakery in Chehalis, Wash. — which racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for flouting Washington’s COVID-19 restrictions — will be closing permanently.

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The restaurant’s owner, 81-year-old Rod Samuelson, cited difficulties in hiring on workers and issues with managing food deliveries as the primary reasons for shutting down.

Samuelson made headlines last December, when he refused to shut down Spiffy’s indoor dining service in defiance of mandates from Gov. Jay Inslee, claiming that he did not believe restaurants were significant spreaders of COVID-19.

In the weeks that followed, a judge issued a restraining order mandating that the restaurant halt indoor dining, while the Department of Labor & Industries levied hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

Shortly after celebrating Spiffy’s 50th anniversary in early January, Samuelson finally relented and closed down the restaurant’s indoor dining room, with fines from L&I totaling over $400,000 when all was said and done. At the time, he claimed that he “was not liable” for the fines as long as Spiffy’s remained “legal.” L&I later stated that he would still be responsible for paying the fines in full.

L&I to collect fines from Spiffy’s despite owner claiming he’s ‘not liable’

After announcing the closure of Spiffy’s this week, Samuelson said the state has reduced his fines to $240,000. L&I disputed that claim as well, clarifying that it is still “in settlement talks with representatives” for the restaurant, and that “at this point there is no agreement and nothing has been finalized.”

Samuelson also claimed that the state Attorney General’s Office — which is acting as legal representation for L&I in its claim against Spiffy’s — expressed a willingness to “forego the fines altogether.” In a statement to MyNorthwest, the AG’s Office clarified that it “made a settlement offer as instructed” by the state.

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Chehalis restaurant that racked up $400,000 in fines over COVID rules to close permanently