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caption: Rita Rosa works at her newly reopened bar at the Rainier Bar and Grill in Enumclaw.
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Rita Rosa works at her newly reopened bar at the Rainier Bar and Grill in Enumclaw.
Credit: Eilis O'Neill

Bar seating is back, and so are grumpy customers

The Saturday after Washington state reopened, the Rainier Bar and Grill in Enumclaw was packed. Every table that was open for seating was full. There was a customer in every bar stool. And there wasn’t a mask in sight.

Rita Rosa, the bartender, said she was particularly pleased about the bar reopening.

“I love it,” she said. “I’ve been dying for this. Without my bar rail, I’m just a waitress.”

“You have more of a social connection to people when they sit at the rail,” she added. “I get to entertain them. It affects my tip.”

All over Enumclaw, businesses have reopened their bars. But other things can’t turn on a dime. Many restaurants, including the Rainier Bar and Grill, aren’t opening at full capacity yet, because they don’t have enough trained wait staff.

Rosa said every other table at her restaurant is still closed because “we’re still kind of transitioning.”

She said the restaurant just hired four new servers and the plan is to “get everybody back in the groove of serving, and then we’ll open up completely.”

Rosa said one thing that hasn’t changed much is the restaurant’s mask policy. Even though King County's just lifted on June 29, she said, people in Enumclaw have been going unmasked for months.

“There was a sign on the door that said, you know, if you couldn’t wear a mask, we’re just going to assume it’s like a medical issue,” she said. “So, if you didn’t come in with a mask on, we just kind of let you be.”

But, she added, the staff did have to wear masks till they were fully vaccinated.

caption: Tyler St. John is the bar manager at Plateau Wine and Beer in Enumclaw.
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Tyler St. John is the bar manager at Plateau Wine and Beer in Enumclaw.
Credit: Eilis O'Neill

A block away, at Plateau Wine and Beer, bar manager Tyler St. John agreed that enforcing masking in Enumclaw was an uphill battle.

“It’s a little more ‘fight the power’” here, he said, “which I don’t agree with.”

Plateau Wine and Beer started to allow fully vaccinated customers to come in without masks when the state mask mandate lifted in mid-May.

What both St. John and Rosa said they most need, as the state reopens, is patience.

“I actually got complained to today,” Rosa said. “Somebody told me I wasn’t fast enough for them.”

“People just need to be … more patient with restaurant staff,” she added. “They are just getting back in the groove.”