Mackey's empty

Several seats in Mackey's Steakhouse & Pub lay vacant on Monday afternoon.

ONTARIO — On Monday afternoon, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown mandated that all Oregonians stop events and gatherings of 25 people and more. This will go into effect starting Tuesday morning, and will last for the next four weeks. 

This includes a restriction that all restaurants, bars and other food establishments move to carry-out or delivery only, no on-site consu00mption is permitted. Added to the restriction, Brown said that if businesses are not able to put the new guidance in place, then they should close temporarily. 

The restrictions placed did exempt essential locations like workplaces, grocery stores, pharmacies and retail stores.

“I know that while these actions will impact Oregon businesses and employees, they will help decrease the rate of infection while bringing state and federal resources up to the same speed as the spread of the virus,” Brown said in a press release. 

Brown also created a Coronavirus Economic Advisory Council that will convene on Tuesday to examine ways “to mitigate the impacts of new social distancing measures and anything else that adversely affects Oregon’s economy.” 

One of the most direct effects to the economy comes in how restaurants will stay afloat with the change. 

On Monday night, Mackey’s Steakhouse and Pub owner Shawn Grove said the restaurant will be moving to takeout only for a week before looking at the revenue and seeing if it’s feasible to continue like that. This also means that the bar will not be operational in that time. 

Grove said he estimated that Mackey’s needs to average between $75 to $100 per hour during the closure. 

“That’s just to break even,” Grove said. “So we can keep the lights on.”

The change also means a major staffing change, as Grove said the restaurant will have to resort to a massive temporary layoff of about 90 percent of its staff. The temporary layoff means that those employees must remain ready to return to work for 30 days.

“Luckily, we have pretty amazing staff and customers,” Grove said. “Hopefully they will understand the changes that we had to make.”

This change also comes on the eve of Mackey’s biggest day of the year: Saint Patrick’s Day. 

“We’ve already bought all the corned beef and cabbage. It’s slow cooking for tomorrow,” Grove said. “It’s scary times. All we can do is keep pushing through it.”

Also feeling the impact on the annual holiday will be Kanpai’s and Rusty’s Pancake House, which were planning to close down bars “until further notice” as of 10 a.m. Monday. At the Pancake House, they will be running regular hours for the eatery, but will be offering takeout only “until inventory runs out then we’re closing that, too” according to a spokesperson there.

At Ogawa’s Wicked Sushi Burgers and Bowls, which is adjoined to Kanpai, owners had a meeting with staff this morning, according to co-owner Connie Houston. The meeting was held  ahead of Brown’s decision.

“They were all aware of what may have taken place — which it did,” she said. 

Ogawa’s plans to continue to offer takeout; Houson pointed out they already have a large presence in that area.

“We will continue with that, and we will have hours from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.,” she says. “We will serve a full menu as much as we possibly can, depending on supplies.”

While they will have to run on minimal staff, owners are going to try to disperse duties.

“We are going to try to rotate [staff] and give hours as much as possible,” Houston said. “That’s how we’ll be taking care of staff.”

As far as unemployment options are concerned, Houston is hopeful but unsure whether Ogawa’s employees will qualify.

Jason Jungling, who took over ownership of the Plaza Inn restaurant on Jan. 1, said he would be spending his time overnight brainstorming on his next move will be now that restaurants can only provide takeout meals or deliver them for at least four weeks. 

Failure to comply would be a misdemeanor and could mean a loss of license, Jungling said. 

Jungling said he has been prepared to cut his service in half, keeping numbers to about 50 people. Monday, the number of people who showed for the whole day was about 30, and at the end of the day there was only Jungling and two employees. 

His total take for the day was only $250.

Nik Streng is the sports reporter for the Argus Observer. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 2015 with a master's degree in journalism, after graduating from Pacific University in 2013 with a degree in creative writing.

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