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Washington threatens criminal charges against Chehalis restaurant owner defying indoor dining ban

Spiffy's Restaurant and Bakery in Chehalis is continuing to keep indoor dining open, despite Gov. Jay Inslee's COVID-19 restrictions.

Washington state is threatening legal action against a Lewis County restaurant in open defiance of Gov. Inslee's COVID-19 restrictions on indoor dining. 

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) posted notice at Spiffy's Restaurant and Bakery in Chehalis on Monday that "criminal penalties apply for non-compliance." 

Last week, restaurant owner Rod Samuelson, said the state told him to shut down, but he has kept the restaurant’s dining room open to keep his staff employed. Samuelson also admitted it was an attempt to protest the governor's order. 

Crowds of supporters then made for one of the busiest weeks in the restaurant’s near 50-year existence.

The official notice from L&I stated, "By being open for business, SPIFFYS RESTAURANT presents a threat to the public health and safety of its customers and employees given the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic in Washington State. Washington employees would be at risk that substantial probability that death or serious harm could result by working at a location that the Department of Health has deemed unsafe." 

The state could pursue criminal charges against 80-year-old Samuelson over his defiance. 

Samuelson said he never imagined his reopening would cause all of this and wants to work with state lawmakers to try and stay open, despite the statewide order. 

RELATED: Support grows for Chehalis restaurant defying Inslee's COVID-19 restrictions