Mossyrock passes ordinance allowing businesses to remain open during shutdown

MOSSYROCK, Wash. — The lunch rush at Thee Pantry Café in Mossyrock isn’t what it used to be.

“Most of us are scared,” said owner Amy Cooper-Cravens.

Cooper-Cravens has owned the Lewis County restaurant for nearly four years. She weathered the first coronavirus closure, but the second shutdown is taking a major toll.

“It’s very scary. You work really hard, build relationships with people. And it would be devastating if we had to close our doors; it would be devastating,” she said.

Almost every business in the small city is in the same boat.

“Why put them in jeopardy of losing everything and making Mossyrock a ghost town? That’s not right if there’s no cases or data that supports that decision,” said Mossyrock Mayor Randall Sasser.

Sasser said one-size-fits-all restrictions aren’t right. He believes COVID-19 cases should be broken down by ZIP code and that mandates should mirror outbreaks.

He said there’s little data to support the decision to keep businesses closed, so he drafted an ordinance officials passed last month that allows restaurants to reopen for indoor dining.

“The ordinance says we don’t know what the outbreak is in Mossyrock. If we even have one, we don’t know because we don’t have any data that supports it. So, with that, we don’t agree with the governor’s mandate,” said Sasser.

He admits the ordinance itself doesn’t hold much weight, but it has started a conversation.

“This is a silent protest and, to me, this is a good protest,” said Sasser.

Restaurant owners said they’re scared of state fines, so they’re currently sticking with orders to go only, but they hope the ordinance sends a message that’s heard outside of Mossyrock.

“Think about your family and your life for a minute. Think about these small towns. They are struggling. We are struggling and just have some compassion,” said Cooper-Cravens.

The community is setting up a crowdfunding website to help Mossyrock businesses if they face fines in the future.