Several Pullman bars switch to delivery, to-go only systems

One owner says bar only gets to-go orders at lunch, dinner time

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JESSICA HARJA | THE DAILY EVERGREEN

Rico's Pub Owner Tawny Szumlas says to-go orders spike around lunch and dinnertime but are low for the rest of the day.

JARED BRADLEY, Evergreen reporter

Local restaurants and bars in Pullman have had to look for ways to deal with COVID-19 after the governor ordered that restaurants no longer serve customers in-store. Many of them are switching to to-go only or delivery-only service.

Travis O’Dell, owner of The Land, said they were closed all of last week because of spring break, and they only began takeout service Tuesday. 

“I think a lot of people are scared to spend their money right now,” said O’Dell. “I don’t think anybody here in town is doing particularly well, even with their carry-out.”

The Land is Pullman’s newest bar. It opened a little over a month before the stay-at-home order, O’Dell said. 

Rico’s Pub has been doing well enough that they sold out of hamburger buns, said owner Tawny Szumlas.

However, Szumlas said, Rico’s has experienced a “severe shortening” of hours to 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Both The Land and Rico’s have lost much of their staff, according to their owners.

Even the staff that have remained employed have shorter hours. Szumlas said she provided her employees with links for unemployment due to reduced hours.

Two of Szumlas’ employees went to California and Seattle, and she asked them to remain at home for two weeks to wait for any symptoms of COVID-19 before they return to work.

“Everybody’s been changing their cleaning policies,” said Szumlas. 

Szumlas said never in her experience, nor in the 33 years the previous owner owned Rico’s, have they seen anything like this epidemic.

Rico’s Pub’s to-gos are going really well right at lunch and right at dinner, but they receive next to no orders in-between, said Szumlas.

“I’m pretty sure we’re going to come out of this okay,” said Szumlas.

O’Dell said his business is “white-knuckling” as they prepare to begin delivery with Doordash. The Land employees are working toward doing delivery on their own, said O’Dell.

O’Dell said business has been light regardless of COVID-19’s influence. He has been working on remedying a bad reputation the building has with the neighborhood surrounding his bar and grill.

“I think I’m in kind of a different scenario just because this is all so new,” O’Dell said. “It’s like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”

“We’re in a weird place right now,” O’Dell said.

My Office declined to comment.