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Local eateries rework routines under new virus edict

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take out food

Unsplash photo by Eiliv-Sonas Aceron

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Gov. Jay Inslee’s order requiring Washingtonians to “stay at home” left some restaurants in the Valley scrambling to make even more changes to their operations amid the ongoing threat of the COVID-19 virus.

Within minutes of Inslee’s announcement Monday evening, social media was flooded with eateries noting how they would operate going forward — take out, delivery or temporary closure.

The executive order actually keeps restaurants under the same orders as last week, with dining rooms forced to close and only take-out and delivery options available for customers.

Bacon & Eggs on East Main Street decided to shut down its take-out options and deliver remaining fresh ingredients to local food banks and potentially others in need.

“If you are in need of food, please contact us,” the company posted on social media shortly after Inslee’s address.

Walla Walla Steak Co. and Crossbuck Brewing had been maintaining a smaller menu with take-out options last week, but that changed Monday evening.

A joint statement from managers and partners Dan Thiessen, Paul Mackay and Philip Christofides stated that “it’s time for us as owners to take care of our other guests, which is our staff.”

They said they could not safely maintain social distancing practices at the facility and keep employees safe, which led to their decision to temporarily close for the next two weeks.

Juston Watson, owner of Hop Thief Taphouse, Red Monkey and Stone Hut, opted to temporarily close his three establishments.

Watson wrote that he had divvied out the remaining food inventory that was “not able to be saved.” He said his management team also put together gift boxes and bags for employees who were sent home.

Watson also noted that he is working on ways to provide charity for his employees while they wait out the governor’s edict.

Sweet Basil Pizzeria on First Avenue reminded customers that restaurants offering take-out are considered an essential service during this time and urged people to “continue to get take out from any of your favorite local restaurants.”

Some restaurants decided to get even more creative and help customers with their post-meal duties.

Jimmy John’s of Walla Walla posted that it would give a free roll of toilet paper with any catering order through Saturday.

Multiple restaurants have altered menus quite a bit to provide faster and more manageable service, including The Maple Counter and Walla Walla Bread Co.

Delivery services began making alterations as well, including Door Dash, which notified users that deliveries will now be left on doorsteps instead of being handed off by the deliverer.

Restaurants around the Valley continue to use the hashtag #WallaWallaWILL to help people track deals and altered services from local businesses. The campaign was started in tandem by Downtown Walla Walla Foundation and Discover Walla Walla in order to help businesses unite and survive during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The stay-at-home mandate will last for at least two weeks, Inslee said.

Businesses that remain open are required to implement virus safety strategies that enable workers to maintain six feet of distance from each other.

Certain businesses may also request a special designation as an “essential service” if they are not listed in the specific categories outlined in the governor’s order.

Jedidiah Maynes can be reached at jedidiahmaynes@wwub.com or 509-526-8318.

Jedidiah Maynes is the managing editor of Walla Walla Lifestyles magazine. He also covers local news for the Union-Bulletin and frequently writes about arts and entertainment in Marquee.

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