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Two western Washington restaurants defy Inslee's COVID-19 indoor dining restrictions

One restaurant owner said he was protesting Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's restrictions on indoor dining. Another said his decision was strictly business.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Two restaurants off Interstate 5 opened this week for indoor dining, in defiance of a statewide order.

The owner of Farm Boy south of Olympia reopened his dining room for customers Wednesday, violating Gov. Jay Inslee’s ban on indoor dining.

“I was up all night,” owner Brian Robbins said. “Weighing the good and the bad, and the good outweighs the bad.”

Robbins knows he could face fines or even lose his business license for violating the order, but he said he is willing to take the chance.

“We might shut down if we don’t do what we’re doing,” Robbins said.

Robbins said he was inspired to offer indoor service again after seeing Spiffy’s Restaurant and Bakery in Napavine doing the same on Monday.

“Our employees are number one,” said Spiffy’s owner Rod Samuelson.

Samuelson said he would not be able to keep his staff of 30 employed relying only on take-out.

He said he thinks his restaurant is cleaner than other businesses that are allowed to have customers indoors.

While it’s a business decision, Samuelson also said he hopes to send a message to Olympia.

“It’s a protest,” Samuelson said.

A spokesperson for the state’s Department of Labor and Industries said the agency is aware of restaurants violating the governor’s latest COVID-19 restrictions.

L&I spokesman Tim Church said the state sent The Fairway Café in Lynden an “order of notice and immediate restraint” last week after the restaurant allegedly allowed indoor dining.

Church said business owners who blatantly ignore the governor’s order may face fines or could lose their business licenses.

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