As the state slowly begins to reopen, businesses have faced their own unique challenges. Small businesses have wrestled with the issue of social distancing with limited space, while others have done their best to follow the multifarious guidelines put forth by state agencies.
In some cases, though, businesses haven’t been able to make it that far.
It became the unfortunate reality for Scotty B’s 50’s Diner in Tenino. On Tuesday evening, owner Scott B. Hineline took to the diner’s Facebook page to share that he would not be reopening. He pointed to “difficulties seen and unseen” as having played a role in the decision.
“I am filled with sorrow and sadness,” Hineline said in the post. “You all have become a second family. I may be closing the doors in Tenino, but in no way am I closing my heart to this sweet, life filled town.”
He received an outpouring of responses from his patrons, those with stories and memories from their time at Scotty B’s. As of Wednesday morning, 109 comments had been left on the post. It also boasted 421 reactions and 336 shares. The numbers continue to climb.
Mandy Eversole, listed to be from Tenino on her Facebook page, said the decision weighs heavily on her heart due to the longstanding role Scotty B’s has played in her own life and the lives of her family members.
“The end of an era,” Eversole wrote. “I have so many family I dined with at your establishment over the years who are also no longer with us.”
The diner has been in Tenino since 1996. In that time, Hineline said he’s seen the community grow around him.
“This has been such a difficult decision as I have watched most of the kids grow up in this quaint little stop over for the last 25 years,” Hineline said in his post. “So very many of you are now part (of) my life in more ways than one.”
The reach didn’t end in Tenino. Centralia resident Trudy Steiner said she would travel to Scotty B’s just for the hospitality.
“Lots of times after a doctors appointment up North I take the back road and stop,” Steiner said. “Take Care and wish you the best.”
Others called the diner a Tenino staple. Mayor Wayne Fournier echoed that sentiment.
He said the whole community is sad about the announcement.
“For a lot of people, it’s kind of a Tenino institution,” Fournier said. “Scotty’s a great guy and he’s been a big part of Tenino for a long time, so he’s going to be missed.”
Fournier pointed to the groups that have formed at Scotty B’s, including a group called the “Counter Rats” that would meet for coffee every morning and various car clubs that had established, that would also spearhead the organization of community events.
He continued by saying Tenino Police Chief Robert Swain was good friends with some of the aforementioned regulars.
“There’s a pretty core group of people that meet there and talk Tenino news and community goings-on every morning,” Fournier said. “I’m sure they’re going to feel a little homeless for a little bit.”
According to Fournier, Hineline had alluded to closing at the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdowns. Still, according to the Scotty B.’s Facebook page, Hineline was offering delivery services on March 19.
Still, he announced he was closing the doors on March 23 and attempting to secure grants and disaster relief loans to reopen.
“I was hoping to be able to weather the storm,” Hineline said in the May 23 post. “May try and regroup if possible. It has been a pleasure serving Tenino these last 25 years. We wish everyone the best and God bless you all.”
Hineline wasn’t the only small business owner fighting to survive, according to Fournier.
“Restaurants in particular are having a very difficult time,” Fournier said. “They’ve been closed and then when they get opened up, they’re only able to bring in 50 percent of the seating, but they still have the same overhead. It would be hard to say that anybody wouldn’t be struggling.”
He said the Tenino City Council is looking for ways to assist restaurants, such as implementing outside dining areas. Still, Fournier acknowledged he’s concerned about some of the other local businesses.
Above all else, he hopes the other businesses that are struggling can hang on.
“The city is committed to helping market a community that is inviting,” Fournier said. “A lot of the restaurants in particular, they depend on Summer traffic … some of those big days where we have festivals and concerts in our park, they’re not going to happen. So, it’s going to be hard, but the city and the visitor convention bureau we’re committed to making sure that we get the name of Tenino out there.”