Coronavirus: Washington restaurant owner reopens his business in ‘protest’

Coronavirus: Washington restaurant owner reopens his business in ‘protest’
Restaurant owner Craig Kenady says he was encouraged by his employees to open his business on Memorial Day to customers seated inside as a way of protesting. (KIRO7.com/KIRO7.com)

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. — The line to get into That One Place stretched down the walkway outside the restaurant. There was no social distancing and virtually no one wore a facemask as they waited for their party to be called to an open table inside.

“I’m excited, I’m looking forward to it,” said John Weiman. “It’s about time. It’s time to make a change.” His wife Michelle Weiman added, “I’m looking forward to it, very hungry. Glad he’s doing it.”

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The Port Orchard restaurant has been open for takeout service during the statewide coronavirus shutdown. But restaurant owner Craig Kenady said he was encouraged by his employees to open his business on Memorial Day to customers seated inside as a way of protesting, saying smaller counties such as Kitsap have fewer cases of COVID-19 and should be treated differently than larger counties such as King, Pierce and Snohomish.

“I do think if we’re going to take it on a case-to-case basis then we need to actually look at our county based off of our numbers," said Kenady. “We’re not in it to break laws, not in it to cause problems. We’re not doing this for politics. We’re doing this for freedom.”

Staff in the restaurant wore masks and gloves as they serve patrons. Some tables were kept empty to keep customers further apart from each other.

Kenady said his protest would last just one day, on Memorial Day before he goes back to takeout only.

“We don’t discount the virus at all. We believe in it and we believe in the severity of it. But we also feel at the same time we can safely operate,” Kenady said.