MOSES LAKE - Jordan Hamilton’s struggles as a restaurateur in 2020 are a microcosm of the strain fellow restaurant owners and employees have been dealing with for the last few hundred days across the state.
In a paid-for and produced video released on Tuesday, Hamilton joined other Grant County leaders in asking Washington Governor Jay Inslee to rescind what some call heavy-handed enforcement.
Hamilton is the co-owner of a successful restaurant chain in Moses Lake; Hamilton’s restaurants are: Michael's On The Lake, Michael's Bistro, and Rock Top Bar & Grill.
“We employed 165 people prior to March, but since then, we’ve laid off over 100 people. We have 50 people working between the three restaurants,” Hamilton said in the video.
Hamilton says revenues between all three businesses are down $2 million over the course of a year. Hamilton also reported $500,000 in lost wages and as much as $400,000 in lost tips.
“Restaurants can’t survive on take-out alone,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton says it costs him tens-of-thousands of dollars each month to keep his restaurants open.
“It can’t continue this way,” he added.
Hamilton says he’s spent $50,000 on items and infrastructure needed to create safe social distancing in his restaurants.
“It’s time to open these restaurants back up and get these people back to work,” Hamilton stated.
Depending on the designated region and the COVID-related metrics recorded from within, it’s likely many restaurants will face continued closures based on the state’s new “Healthy Washington” two-phase economy reopening plan.
If the region encompassing Grant, Chelan, Douglas, and Okanogan counties meets the COVID-19 metric standards set by the state by this Friday, the four-county region will be allowed to enter Phase 2 which allows restaurants to reopen at 25% capacity.
The state will evaluate COVID-19 metrics this Friday and determine whether the area is fit to enter Phase 2; if not, it will enter Phase 1 on Jan. 11 which maintains most of the restrictions already in place. The state evaluates metrics every Friday.
The Washington Hospitality Association predicts that 45% of full-service restaurants in the state will close by the end of 2021. In 2020, nearly 3,000 restaurants across the state have closed their doors for good. Most those shuttered restaurants are independently owned.
Based data provided by the hospitality industry, the following shows the number of restaurants that have closed by county in north central Washington.
Adams County: 6
Chelan County: 36
Douglas County: 10
Grant County: 25