LETTER: Owner of Mackey’s describes hanging on in face of pandemic

The Enterprise welcomes letters to the editor, which may be sent to [email protected].

To the Editor:

I know that the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association is doing some things to represent the restaurants right now, but we still need more.

In Malheur County, our numbers are considered extreme. If I do some basic math, it doesn’t take long for me to figure out that we are going to be in the “extreme” category for at least two to three months. How can a business expect to survive this? 

We have to battle for the governor’s office to give us a little more leeway. People are not going to just up and stop hanging out, they’re just doing household to household now. Or in our case, they can go just over the river and dine in at a restaurant. 

They aren’t even going to get takeout if they can still go in somewhere. 

Look at the numbers at the OLCC liquor stores. They are not losing with the bars shut down, nor is the state. People are still going to get their liquor and just take it to friends or go out across the river.

Our numbers are not going to get better. So what do we have to look forward to? How do we plan? I have laid off 20 people so far. The ones I have working still, are single income households, that need this job. 

My husband and I have taken other jobs at SRCI in food service, just to keep them working because takeout doesn’t quite break even. Even if we can be outside, REALLY? 

Our high today is 37 degrees. I have a patio and a tent and heaters, but why would customers do that if it’s uncomfortable? We need real options, not just options that make the governor’s office look better.

The way we see it, the governor’s office says it’s about human life, but how can they justify that? Our local hospital laid people off. We have high cases, but hardly any hospitalizations – shouldn’t this be a consideration? 

Covid is real, but people still have to try and make a living or we might as well be dead too. 

The state has us over a barrel, though. If we don’t comply, it’s our liquor licenses and lottery licenses. We all know that. That’s how we make it as “mom and pop” shops. It covers that gap we see often in a state that already has one of the highest minimum wages. And we sure don’t have the monetary means to fight it right now.

We are all hanging on by a thread and any savings we might have had, and any grant we can get our hands on.

We need answers. And we need to know that these businesses and these employees matter – because right now, it’s evident we don’t.

Angie Grove is co-owner of Mackey’s Steakhouse & Pub in Ontario.

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