State issues emergency liquor license suspension to Sultan bar for defying COVID-19 requirements

The state served up a suspension to a defiant bar and restaurant in Sultan. Enforcement officers with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board said Loggers Inn has been violating the state’s COVID-19 safety requirements.

Loggers Inn claims to be the “Oldest Bar in the West”, open since the year 1880. It’s now one of the few businesses in the state issued an emergency liquor license suspension for violating several COVID-19 safety requirements.

“We rarely issue the emergency suspensions, but with the repeat pattern of non-compliance, we didn’t feel like there were many options,” said Justin Nordhorn, chief of the Enforcement Education Division for the board.

By order of the state, Loggers Inn cannot serve alcohol for 180 days. The board suspended the license after enforcement officers received seven initial complaints beginning in March, and since have made contact 17 times to help the business comply with COVID-19 requirements.

During the latest visit, October 24, Nordhorn said enforcement officers reported no one was social distancing, and about 30 customers and two employees weren’t wearing masks.

“His employees weren’t following the protocols, so there were not masks being worn by the employees, masks weren’t being worn by the patrons. People were sitting at the bars, which are also supposed to be closed. Activities like pool were going on and that’s supposed to be closed as well,” said Nordhorn.

Prior to the emergency liquor license suspension, Nordhorn said Loggers Inn was issued a violation citation on August 28th and September 25th. On multiple occasions, the board and enforcement officers made contact with the bar owner to offer support and education towards compliance.

“The education is not only coming from the LCB, but it also comes from the trade organizations to hopefully get people in compliance,” said Nordhorn. “The board felt that this was a public safety and public health hazard as he didn’t have a demonstrated interest in complying.”

Nordhorn said the board has received approximately 6,500 complaints related to COVID-19 since mid-March, in which 331 businesses statewide were issued warnings. Of those 331 businesses, 20 of them got a ticket. Out of that 20, Loggers Inn has three.

Nordhorn said the board is aware some business owners are willing to take great risks in an effort to financially recover from the pandemic.

“We recognize those hardships and we really try to help people out in creating accommodations for cocktails to go and those types of things we’ve never done before. And yet we do have to ask licensees to be compliant with the public health and safety issues on the other end,” said Nordhorn.

Q13 News requested comment about the suspension and a Loggers Inn staff member said the reporter’s contact information would be given to the owner. Q13 is waiting for the remarks.

The business has the option to appeal the board’s decision. Loggers Inn has until the end of next week to submit the appeal. Nordhorn said the Attorney General’s Office would represent the board should Loggers Inn submit an appeal. He further explained if the court finds Loggers Inn is in violation of the state’s COVID-19 requirements, the business faces a full cancellation of its liquor license.