Dori: Mandate defiant Chehalis restaurant owner claims LCB agents recently raided Mackinaw’s

Apr 18, 2022, 3:14 PM

Wheat Khan...

Laurel Wheat Khan, the owner of Mackinaw’s in Chehalis, has announced she's running for governor. (Courtesy of Mackinaws on Facebook)

(Courtesy of Mackinaws on Facebook)

The owner/chef of a Lewis County restaurant featured last year on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” – and later on The Dori Monson Show for resisting state COVID closure demands – is facing even greater penalties after she says 10 Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) agents raided her business last week.

Chef who loses liquor license calls Washington state’s approach ‘Fear, fear, fear’

Just days before Christmas 2021, the state board revoked Laurel Khan’s liquor license and seized her remaining alcohol at Mackinaw’s – a popular farm-to-table eatery with its self-described “Chicago-style hip city bar” vibe.

This came after four violations filed by the state board against Khan’s business, starting in 2020 during the initial COVID-19 outbreak. Mackinaw’s was under scrutiny over refusing to temporarily close during the statewide COVID-19 outbreak.

“I was served a search warrant on Thursday, read my Miranda Rights, and I had crime scene tape across my door as 10 officers searched my restaurant,” Khan told Dori and his listeners.

In December 2021, Mackinaw’s was allowed to remain open as a “food only” business after the liquor license suspension, but her sales have been down more than 50 percent since then.

Her initial resistance to Washington state’s business-closure orders was because “it was incredibly unjust,” Khan explained.

When interviewed by Dori in January, Khan expressed her frustration with what she saw as a double-standard between how “the Safeways, the Costcos, the WalMarts” were allowed to stay open while she felt a “thumb down on the neck” of “all the little guys.”

Now she’s equally frustrated by what she calls an “inconsistency” between how non-bar restaurants are targeted by the state Labor & Industries Department while dining establishments that serve alcohol face penalties from the state Liquor and Cannabis Board.

“I’ve been a responsible restaurant owner of 15-plus years,” she said. “I have never had a liquor violation. Now, they are putting me out of business.”

Khan has been ordered to appear in a Lewis County court on April 29 to address the matter. She told Dori that potential new penalties include asset forfeiture – including the boat she lives on.

“(Gov. Jay) Inslee has an $800 million homeless bill,” she told Dori. “Maybe I could be part of it.”

Listen to Dori’s interview with Mackinaw’s restaurant owner Laurel Khan here

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