By Mike De Felice
Special to Kitsap Daily News
PORT ORCHARD – That One Place restaurant continues to provide indoor service to its customers, ignoring Gov. Jay Inslee’s order that eateries are to provide just takeout or outside service at this time, according to state officials.
The Port Orchard restaurant’s defiance has led the state attorney general to petition Kitsap County Superior Court to stop the dine-in service on the grounds the activity is a threat to public health.
“By continuing to offer indoor dining, That One Place is endangering the health and safety of its employees … and the general public … This creates an immediate and irreparable probability and risk of serious injury or death,” the petition stated.
The temporary restraining order hearing had been set for Jan. 15 but for an undisclosed reason, the court date was rescheduled for Wednesday.
Attempts over the past two days to reach Craig Kenady, owner of That One Place, for comment by phone were unsuccessful.
Last Friday, the following post appeared on the restaurant’s Facebook page: “This morning [state Attorney General] Bob Ferguson and crew are going to attempt to put a restraining order on us. We will have a court date set today and we will plan a protest at the courthouse at our court hearing time. We will not close due to this. It’s merely a bump in the road.”
The state’s brief filed with the court indicated that after receiving reports that the restaurant was serving patrons, inspectors drove past That One Place on Dec. 16 and 30, and observed indoor dining taking place. On Jan. 5, the business was served with an “order of immediate restraint” to halt the service. Drive-by visits on Jan. 7 and 8 revealed indoor dining service had continued, officials said.
“Not complying with the Governor’s proclamations limiting public exposure to the virus, and DOSH [Division of Occupational Safety and Health] safety and health regulations, potentially exposes workers to respiratory droplets that cause COVID-19 infection. This is a hazard that can cause serious injury or death,” the petition stated.
In the face of rising COVID-19 cases across the state, Inslee issued a Nov. 15 proclamation that included a provision prohibiting restaurants and bars from providing indoor, dine-in service. The order has been extended several times.
On Jan. 11, the governor issued another proclamation putting into place the “Healthy Washington: Roadmap to Recovery” plan. The plan prohibits indoor dining during Phase 1, where Kitsap County currently stands. When the county moves to Phase 2, indoor dining will return at restaurants and be limited to 25 percent of dining space capacity.
This is not the first time the restaurant has tangled with authorities over COVID-19 restrictions. In December, the state Liquor and Cannabis Board suspended That One Place’s liquor license for reportedly serving patrons inside.
With state officials now issuing charges against the establishment for allegedly ignoring the governor’s order, it raises another question: Can customers who eat indoors, and restaurant employees who serve them, face legal jeopardy?
After the Independent checked with Port Orchard Police Chief Matt Brown, the answer as for criminal liability appears to be “no.”
“We are not going around as a local police department citing people with violating the governor’s order. We forward all complaints to the state Department of Health, which is the enforcement agency,” Brown said.
The Port Orchard Police Department’s decision to defer enforcement is how other local police departments and the Kitsap Sheriff’s Office are handling the matter, he said.
If the court approves the petition against That One Place, future indoor dining violations could lead to the business being found in contempt of court, according to Department of Labor and Industries spokesman Tim Church.
Daily fines and misdemeanor charges also could be imposed, he added.