“We’ll go out of business,” restaurant owner urges Gov. Brown to loosen restrictions

GRANTS PASS, Ore. – Dave Thomason, the owner of Thomason Hospitality Group in Grants Pass. He owns and operates 45 restaurants in the region, including Taprock Northwest Grill. Since the pandemic began, he’s had to lay-off hundreds of employees. If it continues, he says, it’s only going to get worse for his businesses.

“Most likely if this continues, we’ll go out of business,” said Thomason.

One of the Rogue Valley’s most prolific restauranteurs, Dave Thomason, said something’s got to give. He wrote an open letter to Gov. Kate Brown this week pleading for action.

“The numbers for the state of Oregon have firmly put every county I do business in the extreme risk category. We won’t have the opportunity to open up any of our dining rooms until I believe January 1,” said Thomason.

Thomason said with the current COVID-19 situation, he isn’t hopeful his restaurants will be able to open back up come the new year.

He also said he’s laid off hundreds since the restrictions began. While he still has over 500 employees, he worries about their future.

”Once we get to the first of the year, kinda all bets are off at that point,” said Thomason.

Thomason prides himself, and his company, on following the rules. While others have encouraged him to open his dining rooms, he’s not there yet.

“What’s gonna happen is you’re gonna see a lot of people defy the mandates that have been put in place and open up,” said Thomason.

He believes restaurants should be treated the same way as retail stores, even though people have to take masks off to eat and drink. Currently, retail stores can open at half capacity.

“We have not experienced any outbreaks whatsoever while we were open. And our expectation would be the same way we would operate once we get the option to open our dining rooms,” said Thomason.

Thomason told NBC5 News plenty of businesses are defying the governor’s orders, opening for dine-in service, but declined to give any details.

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