State seizes alcohol, revokes liquor license at Mackinaw’s in Chehalis in public confrontation

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By Eric Rosane / [email protected]

It is the season of giving for many. But not for the Washington State Alcohol and Cannabis Board.

State agency law enforcement staff traveled to Mackinaw’s restaurant in Chehalis on Friday morning to seize alcohol containers and revoke the company’s liquor license after numerous months of publicly flouting COVID-19 health measures and refusing to shut down temporarily during a statewide outbreak about a year ago.

As of December 2020, a total of four violations have been filed against the company by the board of directors.

By revoking the license, the state may have done the trick. Owner Laurel Khan, despite her persistence and optimism, said it was likely the business could not survive. She said she may have to shut down Mackinaw’s and its associated bars and rooms.

The restaurant is not closing permanently, however. Only the liquor license was revoked.

Khan spoke to The Chronicle on Friday morning, shortly before law enforcement staff came by. She said the whole ordeal is an injustice to the local business community and called the Alcohol and Cannabis Board enforcement discrimination.

She pointed to other states across the country that have reopened and also the lack of enforcement at Lumen Field during Seahawks games. She believes the state is not enforcing the rules in King County.

“It really is a tragedy. Not only to remove that economic base, but it’s a growing area, and it’s the only place businesses can take their people and say, “hey, this is Chehalis”. We have that here, ”she said, noting that she would rather see heavy fines rather than a complete revocation of her license.

For Khan, she said, it’s all about freedom, freedoms and maintaining a sense of normalcy – but it could cost her and her 14 employees their jobs at Mackinaw. Khan has previously expressed his distaste for warrants, having attended freedom rallies and vocally urging lawmakers in the 20th Legislative District to do something about it at a town hall over the summer.

There are no regrets, Khan said.

“I stood up for what I believed in and I don’t regret leading my team through something we all believed in. I regret that this will affect the livelihoods of my employees, and that part hurts. But there is a plan in place, however, ”she said.

She still plans to host Christmas parties and events in the coming days, but won’t charge her “guests” for alcohol and drinks.

“I’m losing everything anyway, so why can’t I give?” she asked.

Cannabis and Alcohol Control Board spokeswoman Julie Graham said on Friday that cases of alcohol seizure and license revocation for non-compliance with COVID-19 guidelines have been extremely rare since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

Only a small number of similar actions have taken place, she said, and business owners have been overwhelmingly receptive to learning mandates in order to stay in compliance.

“Most of them have been willing to comply and so there have been very few instances where we have had to take the step of suspending or removing a license,” Graham said, noting that it is still theirs. aim to use education as the overriding action for grabbing. “In this case, it just didn’t work. And, therefore, after a series of gradual actions, the council made the decision to suspend his license. ”

Four licenses were canceled across Washington state and 17 temporarily suspended, Graham said.

Khan said she tried to fight the warrants through multiple administrative hearings with the board, but was unsuccessful.

In time for the 10 a.m. seizure, two law enforcement workers walked through Mackinaw’s gates at around 9:37 a.m. and greeted Khan by his first name. A few customers were already at the bar, having a drink in the morning to mark the unique occasion.

Law enforcement workers and Khan began reviewing the documents in a nearby lounge. A Mackinaw’s employee began berating government employees, saying, “Are you coming to work and feeling okay? It’s awesome.”

Charges that they “pick and choose” began to circulate, with one of the customers saying they should go to Lumen Field.

About 10 minutes into the 10 hour seizure, bottles of wine and beer began to open. As law enforcement officers began to systematically dismantle the nearly three dozen containers of hard liquor lining the wall, disgruntled customers and employees had little time to enjoy their drinks before. that Khan could no longer serve alcohol.

Khan uncorked a trio of wine bottles. A bartender dropped Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur into someone else’s coffee shop. Protesters – with placards comparing Inslee to the Nazi Party and declaring “Mackinaw’s Serve This Community Not Inslee” – entered the bar as law enforcement continued to work.

Someone put on some music. Aaron Lewis’ “Am I The One” rang loudly as everyone enjoyed their morning wine and beer, and the state got its job done.

Rick Barrett, sales manager at Cascade Hardwood in Chehalis, was among a growing crowd of people who stopped by to see what was going on. He said the foreclosure was a shame because their 135 employees and customers go to Mackinaw.

It is their favorite place. And now the future is uncertain.

“It honestly helps us sell lumber around the world. They don’t think about the ramifications of their actions, ”Barrett said of law enforcement.

Watching the state seize a large majority of his alcohol, Khan said it was still “unbelievable” that this was happening.

“I’m not going to lose this,” she said. “The next two nights are our time where we have Christmas parties and people coming in and having reservations. And I don’t stop for that… I have to stand up for what I believe in. And, like I said, there is a silver lining. But at the moment, it’s difficult.

Khan tore his business and liquor license in half before law enforcement shut down. Back in its case, it was proudly displayed at the entrance to one of Mackinaw’s bars – “F *** Jay Inslee + WSLCB” was scribbled in marker on the paperwork.

At around 10:12 a.m., an enforcement officer approached the permit and pulled it out of its frame. “The Star-Spangled Banner” was now playing in the background. He crossed out the section stating their liquor license, initialed it and replaced it in the case.

The song ended around the time they retired the license.

“Let’s play ball,” one person shouted.

Mackinaw’s is considered one of the best restaurants in County Lewis. Earlier this year, he was one of a handful of local restaurants featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” one of Food Network’s most popular shows.


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