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News >  Spokane

Enterprising Spirit: Owners of Baby Bar and Neato Burrito focus on domestic life while waiting for safer time to reopen

UPDATED: Wed., May 20, 2020

Tim Lannigan and Patty Tully stand in their restaurant, Neato Burrito,  on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, in downtown Spokane. The pair have closed their restaurant, which also has the attached Baby Bar, and are waiting to see what happens, while making some needed repairs. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Tim Lannigan and Patty Tully stand in their restaurant, Neato Burrito, on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, in downtown Spokane. The pair have closed their restaurant, which also has the attached Baby Bar, and are waiting to see what happens, while making some needed repairs. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Patty Tully and Tim Lannigan, co-owners of Baby Bar and Neato Burrito, have kept busy during the stay-home order working on the home improvement projects they’ve never had time to get around to during their 13 years in business, as well as giving Baby Bar and Neato Burrito some TLC.

Tully repainted the chevron pattern onto the floor in the bar, and, with months of closure, it will have adequate time to cure. Lannigan has been repainting walls in their house and putting a finish on their ceiling, as well as toiling in the garden with weeds. All the while, their 14-year-old daughter is diligently completing her homework, with “Magnum P.I.” cued on the iPad and Snapchat open on her phone.

“She’s doing all three at once, and Patty, you can see her brain trying to turn inside out like, ‘How is she even doing that?’ ” Lannigan said, laughing. “I’m like, ‘It’s what they do, she’s getting good grades and she’s happy. And this is quarantine. Let her just be cool.’ ”

Tully and Lannigan brought home the juicer used for the Baby Bar’s signature drinks, and plenty of burritos, tacos and enchiladas are being made and quickly consumed by the family, with plenty of visits from their older sons.

“We had to make peanut sauce the other day because all of us were like, ‘We need peanut sauce, must have,’ ” Lannigan said. “We kind of lost it a little and made a big huge batch of it, and we’ve been eating rice and chicken and peanut sauce since, just because we missed it so much.”

Tully and Lannigan are making the best of the time away, but they’re missing co-workers and customers of Baby Bar and Neato Burrito, too. But they don’t plan on reopening until it is safe for everyone and makes financial sense for their employees, which they are hoping will be mid-June. They were able to secure a grant from the state that covered their lease and insurance, which was their major expense, and they’ve been checking in on their employees, who have been able to receive unemployment benefits and are doing well.

Baby Bar is aptly named for its small size; the red-lit bar has occupancy for 25 people. Luckily for Lannigan and Tully, the connected Baby Bar and Neato Burrito are considered one unit, for occupancy of 79. Tully anticipates that in the beginning, there might be a lot of people ordering drinks in Baby Bar and drinking them in Neato Burrito.

“We’ll just hobble along until we can be back to normal, I guess,” Tully said. “If it doesn’t work out then we have to figure something else out. We’re willing to figure something else out. I don’t know what it would be, but I’m definitely not going to panic yet.”

But one of Lannigan’s concerns is that a big part of Baby Bar’s appeal is it’s packed-like-sardines feel.

“We’re really built on that big city feel of everybody smashed in together, and I guess that’s what scares us is that if people can’t be all smashed in here, then it kind of kills the vibe,” Lannigan said.

“No crying” – the rule written on the mirror behind the counter at Baby Bar – still applies.

“A lot of business owners are talking, and they’re like, ‘I can’t believe they’re not opening up. I can’t believe it.’ ” Lannigan said. “I’m like, ‘No, why don’t we wait till its safe? Why don’t we wait till it’s all working? Let’s wait till it’s all the way dead, and nobody’s getting infected again, and then open up.’ Why is that such a hard concept for everyone?”

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