▶️ Bars, restaurants statewide plead for COVID relief; cocktails to-go clearance

By MEGHAN GLOVA
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

With the two-week freeze beginning Wednesday, the Independent Restaurant Alliance of Oregon (IRAO) is requesting that Gov. Kate Brown provide greater COVID relief statewide.

That includes extended eviction moratoriums, more rapid testing for employees, and clearance to sell cocktails to go.

Like many, business has been slower at Foxtail Bakeshop in Bend since the start of the pandemic.

The upcoming shut down won’t help.

“We really hope that the Oregon government would do more for local businesses,” said Ben Blauvelt, Foxtail Bakeshop manager. “We want to see support and solidarity standing with us, not just restricting for the health of everybody, but helping us survive through it so we can come back stronger when this is all over.”

That feeling is catching on statewide by over 400 businesses that signed a letter to Brown, written by the IRAO.

“You know our bars are closing already, our restaurants are closing already,” Ricky Gomez, IRAO board member said. “We need our state representatives to step up to the plate now before we have more closures.”

Local businesses owners say the extra source of revenue made from to-go cocktails would be helpful.

“That’s definitely something that if OLCC would approve,” Joe Kim, Five Fusion co-owner said. “We would definitely love to do and I think that our customers would appreciate that.”

“The baked goods don’t really make us money,” Nickol Hayden-Cady, Foxtail Bakeshop owner said. “What makes us money is all our drinks. So our cocktail list, our coffee-to-go. Adding a shot of bourbon or anything in our coffee drinks, that really does help us.”

“OLCC rules should loosen so that bars can offer take out cocktails,” Juli Hamdan, Joolz owner said. “This industry feeds the hungry, employs so many people, literally keeping chains of commerce going. Where is the relief that we can access to get through two weeks of lost income? Our bills, utilities, lease, payroll and taxes don’t just cease because there is a pause.”

Multiple Central Oregon businesses signed the letter to Brown, including:

Flip Flop Sounds, Bend
Five Fusion, Bend
Bellatazza, Bend
Foxtail Bakeshop, Bend
Downtown Bend Business Association
Chomp Chomp, Bend
Vector Volcano Classic Arcade, Bend
Joolz, Bend
Twist Cocktail Catering Co., Bend
The Commons Cafe & Taproom, Bend
Sun Mountain Fun Center, Bend
Velvet Lounge, Bend
Geneva Financial, Bend
Monkless Belgian Ales, Bend
DJ Chuck Boogie, Redmond
The Suttle Lodge & Boathouse, Sisters

“Cocktails to go is not a miracle that’s going to save our industry,” Gomez said. “But it’s just another tool we can utilize to expand our sales to increase our profitability and have a chance to survive this winter.”

The IRAO says Brown’s office is supportive of their requests, but a special legislative session is needed to see any action.

Late Tuesday, Brown announced the state will commit $55 million to businesses impacted by the COVID restrictions.

It will be up to each county to determine who receives the money.

State commits $55M for businesses hit by COVID restrictions; counties to distribute funds

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