Steven Siler, the Kent bar owner who defied Gov. Jay Inslee’s indoor dining ban as the state’s coronavirus numbers were spiking again last fall has agreed to pay a $2,400 fine and comply with the state’s coronavirus safety guidelines going forward.
That ends a showdown that dates back to November when Siler, owner of Stimpy’s Sports Bar & Grill, ignored shutdown orders from Public Health-Seattle & King County and the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board by allowing customers to dine in his sports bar (capacity 200 people) during the indoor dining ban in mid-November. Public Health also cited Siler in December for allowing customers and employees to wander around the bar without masks.
Siler told The Seattle Times then that he intended to defy the shutdown order and stay open because “this is a survival thing.” “It’s my business,” he said. “And I’m fighting for it.”
The liquor board also put the squeeze on Siler by giving him a Feb. 11 deadline to comply with safety guidelines, or risk getting his liquor license suspended.
After mulling over whether he should sue the state for “violating his civil rights,” Siler backed down, saying the legal fees would be too costly to keep his fight going.
“I’m going back to doing what I am good at — running a bar and playing by the rules,” he said in an interview this week.
His conciliatory tone marks a dramatic shift from last year when he defied the governor’s indoor dining ban on the grounds that it was unfair for businesses to be ordered to shut without getting compensation or government aid to offset the lost revenue.
On Dec. 29, a health inspector cited Stimpy’s for a number of violations, among them, per the inspection report:
- “Two out of four employees” were not wearing masks
- About “30 to 40 customers” were dining in Stimpy’s during a period when Inslee had decreed a pause in indoor dining due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.
- “Most customers were not wearing a mask while walking around inside the restaurant” and “no social distancing was observed inside the restaurant among customers.”
But on Tuesday, Public Health confirmed that Siler has since submitted a COVID-19 safety plan with social distancing and other safety measures in place and is back in good standing with health regulations.
The liquor board also confirmed Tuesday that Siler has agreed to pay a $2,400 fine for COVID violations, and he has vowed to follow all safety guidelines in the future.