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Jeff Humphrey

Keeping Businesses in Business

Jeff Humphrey, Media Manager, 509.625.6308

Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 12:34 p.m.

While the City of Spokane is still making its case with the state to modify COVID-19 restrictions, the Mayor and Spokane City Council are working to help businesses, like Soulful Soups, stay in business.

“Some of the things we’ve been doing together with the City Council is offering assistance for people, who need to pay their utilities. Also, buying down the interest rates on small business loans for some of our struggling businesses. So a lot still going on,” detailed Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward.

Up until now, Lauren d’ Arienzo’s only option was to send her food and her Soulful Soups customers out the door with orders to go. D’Arienzo is happy to be moving on to Phase 2, but still worried about her cash flow.

“Half capacity and with six-foot, (spacing) if you’re in this space, you can see, that doesn’t leave me many tables and it certainly doesn’t leave me with 49 guests,” lamented D’Arienzo.

Fortunately, the Spokane City Council just passed new rules regarding parklets, streateries and sidewalk cafes.

“Well, we’re going to relax these rules now. It’s the perfect time. It’s springtime in Spokane. We have wide sidewalks and streets and businesses need to spread out so they can breathe,” explained City Council President Breean Beggs.

So now, Soulful Soups and other restaurants can move a little bit of their business outdoors and help owners meet social distancing requirements.

“It gives us that community that we wanted. The energy that usually exists in here; it’s just going to be out on the street now,” added D’ Arienzo.

As part of helping businesses launch successful re-openings, the City intends to start enforcing parking restrictions, including time limits, on June 1. However, plans call for keeping free 10-minute retail pickup zones, like the one in front of Leo Gonder’s restaurant.

“Well, I think it’s made us feel more viable. We can still go on Facebook, we’re showing our food. We’re viable, we’re trying and I think people respect that cause they always thank us. ‘Thank you for being open,’ ” said Gonder, owner of the Tamarack Public House.

“To be able to maximize what little options they had during this shutdown, and that was through take-out, curbside pickup was huge. And the fact, that we could offer them some help from the City, just with a 10-minute free parking, goes a long way,” emphasized Woodward.

“She has taken things she can do. We realize she’s under a blanket too. She can only do so much. But what she’s done has been helpful,” Gonder said of the Mayor’s efforts.

Now, Gonder is looking ahead, ready to move part of his dining room outdoors.

“Well basically, we set it up so we meet all social distancing,” Gonder said of the tables and chairs deployed in the Chronicle Courtyard.

Even though his business has suffered, Gonder knows a rush to re-open could backfire.

“Open up small, no one gets sick. Open up a little more, no one gets sick. Open it all the way, and that’s how it has to be,” Gonder recommended.

For more information on getting a permit that allows moving part of your business operations into the public right of way, call the city’s Business Development Center at 625-6300.

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