Spokane Journal of Business

Commentary

Restaurant coalition members deserve recognition, support


Raise a glass to the Spokane-area restaurants and bars that have come together to promote staying open safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Or better yet, go in and order dinner and drinks so the local businesses survive. Otherwise, some might not be around post-pandemic.

In an effort to attract customers who are concerned about potential health hazards associated with going out, more than 50 local establishments are participating in the Spokane Hospitality Coalition. The members of the coalition have pledged to take extra precautions at their respective locations to keep them sanitized and to ensure patrons are distanced.

At the same time, in coordination with city of Spokane and in cooperation with county officials, they’re encouraging people to “follow the three W’s:” Wear a mask, wash hands, and watch your distance.

The coalition members are diverse in their geography and offerings. They range from The Swinging Doors, on Spokane’s North Side, to The Scoop ice cream shop, on the South Hill. They extend from Longhorn Barbecue, in Spokane Valley, to The Mason Jar bake shop, in Cheney, to most neighborhoods in between.

One name that pops out on the list is Borracho Tacos & Tequileria, in downtown Spokane, to which 46 COVID-19 cases were linked early this summer. Borracho’s owners and management deserve a tip of the hat for pledging to do what they can to keep consumers safe after experiencing first-hand the effects of the pandemic.

The coalition is illustrative of an acceptance of current conditions and a willingness to adapt to government-mandated restrictions that are temporary but are lasting much longer than many believed they would—and longer than many think they should.

But there’s a subtext to the group’s message that shouldn’t be ignored. They’re doing what they can to provide a safe environment; now, consumers should do their part by going out, even if only for take-out, and spending money at the establishments.

Spokane had been developing a strong reputation as a foodie destination prior to the pandemic. The city ranked ninth on Realtor.com’s list of “Surprising Cities That Are America’s Biggest New Foodie Destinations” last year, and several eateries have been featured on the “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives” show in recent years. We can preserve that reputation and emerge from the pandemic stronger only if we support those who put the city on the culinary map.

Of course, the difficult task of complying with government mandates isn’t exclusive to the establishments in the coalition or the restaurant industry itself. Most businesses have made big, sometimes costly, adjustments to keep both employees and customers safe. There have been sacrifices in the name of safety—or at a minimum, compliance—throughout the Spokane business community.

But the coalition represents proactive response to adversity that could help all involved emerge from the pandemic-prompted economic slowdown more strongly. That deserves to be recognized—and supported by consumers’ wallets.