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Spokane restaurant owners’ makeshift golf course links closure and partial reopening

One of the “holes” on the makeshift Heritage Bar and Kitchen golf course. (Photo provided)
One of the “holes” on the makeshift Heritage Bar and Kitchen golf course. (Photo provided)

When dine-in service closed for Heritage Bar and Kitchen and all that was left was carryout, co-owners Gabe Wood and Alex King got bored.

So, using cardboard boxes and odds and ends, they built a mini-golf course that ran through the entire dining area and into the hallway shared with Whistle Punk Brewing. After several test runs, they set par for each hole. Wood had the best game.

“We got pretty bored in the first two weeks of the quarantine, especially during the lunch hours, just having all the downtown businesses closed,” King said.

Bar manager Conner Monroe saw the course just before the restaurant shut down its carryout service.

“They’re just all about different ideas to just make sure the job’s fun for not only themselves, but for their employees and everybody else involved, the customers as well,” Monroe said.

More time was spent on the greens (or in this case, the browns) than filling orders, and it wasn’t making financial sense to continue the offering. They let go all of their nine employees to enable them to collect unemployment.

When the first round of applications for the Paycheck Protection Program came around, Wood and King worked with State Bank Northwest and Columbia Bank, but did not receive the loan. For the U.S. Small Business Administration program’s second loan round, they were successful and secured just more than $43,000.

With that, King and Wood took down the golf course.

Not receiving the loan on the first go-round turned out to be a blessing in disguise. In order to receive forgiveness on the loan, a business has to spend 75% of it on payroll expenses within eight weeks, and even with receiving it later on, most are concerned about their ability to do so.

Heritage Bar and Kitchen reopens for carryout Thursday, and going forward will be open 4 p.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. With those limited hours, Wood and King anticipate that getting their employees back on the payroll will be a challenge.

“We have to use 75% of those funds, but we can’t even have 50% capacity until the end of the month, so it’s going to be a staggered situation where we bring them back when we can,” King said.

Monroe has been speaking with King and Wood about coming back to work, but it’s a difficult decision. He misses working, but with uncertain hours, it’s a difficult financial decision. He’s been going stir-crazy at home, and he said it feels like all he does is make himself meals and clean the dishes, and he’s sure other people in Spokane are getting tired of the same.

“Maybe we can get somebody a cheeseburger or some Fancy Nancys instead, and just lighten the load a bit,” Monroe said. “It’s just providing for the community the same way that we always have been, and feeding them better-than-average pub grub and adding a sense of normalcy to everyone in the community. That’s what we’re about.”

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