Hyde Out cited by liquor board
After consulting attorney, Dale and Liz Mann looking forward to reopening
Last updated 12/10/2020 at 2:13pm
COLFAX — A local couple has shut down their tavern after being threatened by fines and revocation of their liquor license for not complying with coronavirus mandates.
Dale and Liz Mann have temporarily closed the Hyde Out Bar and Grill, 215 N. Main St., following a Dec. 1 visit from Spokane-based Liquor and Cannabis Board Retail Liquor Enforcement Officer Dale Golman.
"He issued us a warning," Dale Mann said. "He didn't shut us down."
Golman issued the couple a citation, citing authority under Washington Administrative Code 314-11-015(3)(c). Under the code, establishments with a liquor license "have the responsibility to control their conduct and the conduct of employees and patrons on the premises at all times."
The subsection (3)(c), the provision for which they were cited, suggests the couple engaged or allowed "behavior that provokes conduct which presents a threat to public safety."
The Hyde Out has received three complaints for COVID-19 compliance violations from the Liquor and Cannabis board, the most recent Nov. 30. The board substantiated the complaint and a written warning was filed Dec. 1.
Whitman County has had 42 total complaints about liquor-licensed businesses regarding COVID-19 rules violations.
State officials have yet to show proof that dining inside a restaurant is a health risk.
When Golman walked into the Hyde Out about 1:15 p.m. last Tuesday, Liz Mann was working.
She called her husband and business partner so they both could hear Golman's concerns.
"He asked me if I knew we were going against the COVID restrictions and I said yes," Dale Mann said. "He told me everything that's on the warning. We weren't in compliance and we were promoting conduct unsafe to the public."
Dale Mann said he told Golman his actions were wrong.
When Mann asked for a copy of the complaint about the business, Golman refused to provide a copy, he said.
An hour and 45 minutes later, the Manns decided to shut down the Hyde Out so they could discuss the matter with legal counsel and run the numbers to see if their business could survive just being a take-out service.
"We can't afford to stay closed too much longer," Dale Mann said, noting they will try the take-out business starting sometime next week.
But the couple hasn't ruled out legal action against Gov. Jay Inslee. They are also not opposed to hosting "peaceful protests" like those taking place in the cities of Mossyrock, Kennewick, Pasco, Olympia, Chehalis, Lynden and elsewhere.
In the meantime, however, they have to decide if they can afford to stay open much longer, given the governor's extension of the prohibition on inside service until Jan. 4.
"This is killing our business," Dale Mann said, noting that he's had to layoff two employees. "We're going to start with food to go next week, and stay open as long as we can."
The Manns purchased the tavern in 2013, and are worried that they'll would have to choose between using their retirement funds to keep the Hyde Out afloat or shutting it down.
With the friendships they've developed with customers, that's a decision they don't want to have to make.
Liz Mann thanked area residents who have frequented the business and have helped them keep their business open.
"They can only support us with what they can support us with," Dale Mann added, noting that the governor's orders are costing many of their customers their livelihoods, as well.
"This is wrong," he said.
The couple said they believe someone outside of the area filed the complaints against them, as well as other businesses.
Across the street at Top Notch Café, 210 N. Main St., was the subject of a complaint that was not substantiated, upon visit by a board representative.
The Top Notch complaint came before Thanksgiving. Pete and Candace Koerner have continued to operate in a take-out capacity.
Both the Koerners and the Manns said they haven't had any issues with the Liquor Control Board until the recent visits from out-of-area agents.
"They came in because we had a complaint," Candace Koerner said. "He showed us the paper, but it didn't have a name. We could look at it, but we were not to take a picture of it or copy it."
She's not sure why a Spokane-based liquor agent would be dispatched to her business for a complaint, as they only serve a rare beer or two.
"Sometimes we witness a violation; sometimes we don't," Liquor and Cannabis spokeswoman Julie Graham said.
Looking ahead, she questions business survival.
"We're going to have to get creative, maybe offer family dinners," she said. "We'd like to extend our hours, but he (husband and partner Pete Koerner) drives a school bus."
Pete Koerner drives a bus part-time to supplement the couple's income. He also cooks at the restaurant.
"It's going to be tight," Candace Koerner said of the future. "We're down 25% (due to coronavirus mandates)."
Both couples hope the city and county will step up and help in their dealings with state agents who come into town.
They'd like the city and or county pass a "sanctuary" ordinance similar to one that passed last month in Mossyrock protecting them from the governor's orders.
Both couples have said they've been able to operate with the unofficial blessings of city and county officials, so far.
"They are not coming in to tell us what to do with our businesses," Candace Koerner said.
Top Notch and the Hyde Out aren't the only businesses targeted by liquor agents in recent weeks.
In the nearby Tri-Cities, three Sterling Restaurants, Kimo's Sports Bar and Brewpub, Koko's Bartini and others were targeted, leading to protests in Kennewick and Pasco.
Three weeks ago, several protesters rallied in front of the home of liquor agent Austin Shivley's home.
A couple days later, protesters also rallied on the steps of the Franklin County Courthouse, with Patriot Prayer frontman Joey Gibson calling for local elected officials to protect businesses that want to remain open.
In yet another protest Saturday evening at Koko's Bartini in Kennewick, hundreds turned out for dinner, drinks and the protest.
About 75 protesters lined the street waving flags and holding signs. They also went inside for a while to hear a number of guest speakers, including Benton County Sheriff Jerry Hatcher and Pasco City Councilman Pete Serrano.