Open for Business

Local restaurants turn on the lights

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

When driving by the Holly Street Jalapenos last Thursday on the secret squirrel route to Lummi Island, I took note of the fact that the Mexican restaurant was practically deserted, with only a couple of people waiting for takeout outside its front doors.

By the time I returned home Sunday afternoon, the scene had drastically changed. This time, the parking lot was on its way to being full, and the folks who were in line outside appeared to be waiting for tables to open up.

I’d known a number of restaurants would be back in business once it was announced Whatcom County had been cleared to enter Phase 2 of Washington’s four-pronged approach to reopening the state during the coronavirus crisis, but still did a double-take. I turned right and drove slowly around the perimeter of the restaurant to verify they were really letting people in, and was shocked to see people actually seated at tables. Both indoors and in the outdoor patio space facing the picturesque waters of Bellingham Bay, diners were sipping on Big Mamas, eating lunch and generally looking as if they were enjoying themselves.

Although I’m also eager to return to Jalapenos—it’s my favorite happy hour locale, and the last restaurant I visited before the hospitality industry took a mandated hiatus—I’m also aware that the safety procedures I caught a glance of during my drive-by will likely make my next dining experience there a different one. I’m OK with that.

At restaurants throughout Whatcom and Skagit counties, a strict adherence to measures established by the Department of Labor and Industries under Governor Jay Inslee’s guidance means that during Phase 2, no bar seating is permitted, guest occupancy must be 50 percent of the maximum building occupancy or lower (including outdoor seating), tables must be a minimum of six feet away from each other, all parties and tables are limited to five guests or less, customers are strongly encouraged to wear a face mask any time they aren’t seated at the tables, and restaurants must implement plans to ensure proper physical distancing in lobbies, waiting areas and at payment counters.

Additionally, the number of staff should be minimized, single-use menus are required for in-person dining, buffets and salad bars are currently not permitted, and hand sanitizer should be readily available for staff and patrons.

Both behind the scenes and on the floor, be aware that many other safety protocols are being followed to ensure your dining experience is a safe one. This means you’ll want to tip your servers generously, follow the rules put in place instead of grousing about how much easier life used to be before the global pandemic messed everything up, watch your kids, keep opinions about masks to yourself, and express gratitude and patience for those making it possible to step inside your favorite establishments during a time when the world seems to be all kinds of topsy-turvy.

The number of food-and-drink-related venues that have already reopened or are preparing to do so in the near future continues to grow, but if you spot your go-to brewery, coffeehouse, barbecue joint, bakery, bistro, cafe or date-night destination in the list provided here, now’s the time to take a seat at their table and offer them your support.



Adrift Restaurant (Anacortes)
Aslan Brewing
Avenue Bread
Bayou on Bay
The Beaver Inn
Bellingham Bar and Grill
The Birch Door Cafe
The Brown Lantern (Anacortes)
Black Drop Coffeehouse
Black Sheep
Blue Abode Bar
Bob’s Burgers and Brew
Brandywine Kitchen
Buffalo Wild Wings
Burnt Ends (Lynden)
Busara Thai Cuisine
Chuckanut Brewery
Cocoanut Grove
The Colophon Cafe
Cosmos Bistro
Diamond Jim’s Grill
Downtime Taps (Ferndale)
El Agave Mexican Restaurant
El Capitan’s
El Ranchito (Lynden)
El Rey Restaurant and Sports Bar
Fireside Martini and Wine Bar
FrinGe Brewing
Galloway’s Cocktail Bar
Greene’s Corner
Gruff Brewing
Herb Neimann’s Steak and Schnitzel House (Everson)
The Hilltop Restaurant
The Horseshoe Cafe
Graham’s (Deming)
Jake’s Lynden
Jeckyl & Hyde
Just Desserts (Lynden)
Keenan’s at the Pier
Leaf and Ladle
Lighthouse Bar and Grill
The Loft
Lynden Dutch Bakery
Luna’s Bistro
Makeworth Market
McKay’s Taphouse and Pizzeria
Menace Brewing
The Mill
Nicki’s Bella Marina
Neko Cat Cafe
North Fork Brewery
Northside Restaurant and Lounge
Old World Deli
Overflow Taps
OVN Wood Fired Pizza
Our Diner
Pure Bliss
The Railway Cafe (Blaine)
Raspberry Ridge Golf Course and Grill
Red Rum
Rock and Rye Oyster House
Rusty Wagon
Scotty Brown’s
Skylark’s Hidden Cafe
Sirena Gealto
Stemma Brewing
Stones Throw Brewery
Terramar Brewstillery (Edison)
The Little Cheerful
Thousand Acre Cider House
Tony’s Tavern (Custer)
Twin Sisters Brewing
Wander Brewing
Wild Oat Bakery and Cafe
Zen Sushi


Anthony’s HomePort and Hearthfire
Bellingham Cider Company
Dirty Dan Harris Steakhouse
Extremes Sport Grill & Pizzeria
Goods Local Brews
Waterfront Tavern

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