By Mike De Felice
Special to Kitsap Daily News
PORT ORCHARD – While the state Department of Labor and Industries may have asked the court to dismiss its restraining order against That One Place restaurant for its repeated violations of the COVID-19 indoor dining ban, the Port Orchard restaurant still faces a whopping $132,000 in fines for ignoring the state’s health restrictions, according to L&I officials.
“The fines have stopped now because [the restaurant owner] is working to fix the problem but the business is still responsible for paying those fines,” state Department of Labor and Industries spokeswoman Dina Lorraine said.
Restaurant owner Craig Kenady said he has no intention of paying fines imposed by the state, however, claiming they are unlawful. On two days that officials claimed the restaurant had operated in violation of health regulations, he said the business was actually closed.
Kenady reported there was no mention of fines during the court proceeding at which he represented himself.
“I’m not sure how L&I even thinks they can issue a fine without due process. That would be like you getting sent to prison without a trial,” Kenady wrote.
“We will definitely contest any fines that they try to unlawfully issue,” he said.
Lorraine pointed out, however, that each time the restaurant was cited for violating COVID-related regulations, the issued paperwork listed the penalty amount.
Gov. Jay Inslee’s proclamation on Nov. 15 stated that “restaurants and bars are closed for indoor dine-in service.” After that date, investigators reported on several occasions spotting That One Place still serving customers indoors. The violations led L&I to seek a restraining order against the restaurant to halt its indoor food service. An order against the restaurant was granted by Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Michelle Adams on Jan. 20.
The state is now satisfied that the restaurant has been making “good faith efforts” to come into compliance with health regulations, Lorraine said. The department on Jan. 29 filed a motion to dismiss its restraining order. A check of court records Monday indicated the judge had yet to sign a motion to dismiss, but that is expected to happen, Lorraine said.
“Because the owner of That One Place was actively working to come into compliance and make changes to improve ventilation of the restaurant, and in good faith was … working with us and sending us photos, that’s why the order is being lifted,” the department spokeswoman said.
The restaurant has recently been modified to satisfy indoor food service restrictions, Kenady said.
“We have installed the barn doors that [state officials] have outlined as the proper way to meet their requirements for indoor dining,” Kenady said in an email to the Independent.
The restaurant was fined $12,000 for each day it served customers inside in violation of the governor’s order, according to state officials. Investigators indicated the eatery violated health regulations on 11 separate days. The violations were described as “willful serious.” The citations listed the penalty amount, Lorraine said.
The restaurant can appeal a fine within 15 working days of receiving a citation, she said. The appeal process is an administrative action that is not transacted in Superior Court.
The restaurant owner said state officials failed to help the restaurant get into compliance, as ordered by the judge. “That will void any attempt at a fine,” he insisted.
“It would be very interesting to hear how L&I would try to explain this in front of a judge,” Kenady said.
This is not the first time That One Place has been in the crosshairs of state officials. In December, the state Liquor and Cannabis board suspended That One Place’s liquor license for 180 days for reportedly conducting indoor service.