Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Jana Mathia
Gazette Editor 

Local support keeps eateries afloat


April 23, 2020

COLFAX–Four weeks after the original ending of Gov. Jay Inslee’s order to shutdown dine-in restaurants, eateries in Colfax are still limited to take out and delivery, but thanks to local support, they are staying afloat.

Gov. Inslee announced March 16 that he was banning restaurants, bars and large gathering to combat the spread of COVID-19. At the time, the ban was for two weeks, set to expire March 31. A week after the first announcement he came out with the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order which expanded the closures.

Top Notch Café owner Pete Koerner said 90 percent of his business was dine-in. Now he has two signs in his front window, “Orders for Take Out” and the phone number.

“Gotta weather the storm and look for light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

The support of the community has been a ray of sunshine in this storm for him and other eateries.

“We appreciate all the local people are doing,” he said.

“Our town has really stepped up and made a difference,” said Liz Mann who runs the Palouse Hyde Out tavern with husband Dale. This time of year they usually get a lot of business from travelers, tourists, photographers and bikers. Now most of the sit-down dining portion is taped off with CAUTION tape. They are permitted to sell alcohol to-go, but it has to be in a bottle and with food.

“Things are a roller coaster,” said Mann. “Right now we’re doing the best we can.”

Businesses and citizens have rallied around their local eating establishments. Some are ordering lunch for their entire crew at one place or another. At McGregor’s, Thursday has been deemed Take Out Thursday and all employees order their lunch from one designated eatery with the location changing each week.

“You feel like you’re part of a family,” said Eddy Ng of Eddy’s Chinese and American Restaurant.

Koerner and Ng both reported increased generosity from customers–some coming from other towns just to pick up their food.

“That’s the beauty of a small town,” said Ng.

Restaurants are making extra efforts to provide food to their customers. Top Notch and Hyde Out offer special family meals for four people. Koerner said he is open to any suggestion; if it’s reasonable, he’s open to try it.

With the community support, the businesses are able to keep going and support the families and workers that run them. They in turn are ordering meals from other places, giving free meals and paying forward the generosity they have been given.

“We are happy. We are thankful,” said. Ng. “I hope the other people are ok.”

They all look forward to when they can go back to business as usual. Koerner noted it is hard not having the regulars in and the everyday general life from customers they used to have.

“That’s what we miss,” he said.


In his address Tuesday night, Gov. Inslee did not include opening eateries among his list of measures to begin opening in the state. He said the state would not be able to lift many restrictions by May 4 and if bans were lifted in two weeks the number of coronavirus cases would go up. No further details were given as to when eateries could offer dine-in again.


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