Canby Restaurant Patrons Dine Out Saturday to Support Local Business and ‘Stick It to the Government’

After a Canby restaurant was visited by local police last weekend based on reports (later confirmed) that it was open for dine-in service in violation of the governor’s executive order, those wanting to support the restaurant owner’s decision decided to “dine out” today.

They brought camp chairs, utensils and, in some cases, even their own picnic tables and enjoyed their take-out meals in the parking lot and sidewalks outside of the beloved local restaurant, Pappy’s Greasy Spoon.

Among them were Canby business owner Kristopher Foster and his 10-year-old daughter, Mattea. He said he was there “to support a local business, and to stick it to the government.”

“It’s a message that we want businesses like his, and we want them to be able to be open,” he said of Pappy’s, and owner Mike Merrill’s decision one week ago to open in defiance of the governor’s orders. “We need more businesses like him to do what he did.”

There has been growing frustration from residents and business owners about the governor’s stay-home orders, particularly in counties that are more sparsely populated, rural and politically conservative. These areas have also tended to have much lower counts for confirmed cases and deaths.

Some counties who meet certain criteria for Covid-19 numbers and preparedness may begin reopening as early as next week, but Clackamas County will not be among them. According to a statement Friday, the county is at least two weeks from being ready.

Foster said he would have preferred to eat inside the diner (Governor Kate Brown’s orders do not specifically prohibit eating outdoors), but he happened to have a card table. They set it up near Pappy’s front door and shared a Denver omelette, pancakes and potatoes with country gravy.

Being in the furniture delivery business, he’s very used to all varieties of take-out food, he explained. They washed it all down with some water they brought in a gallon jug.

“I’ve eaten here a couple times,” Foster said. “The food is great, and the portions are,” he chuckled, “more than enough.”

Inside, all the rules were being observed. Orders were being taken by phone or at the door. Chairs were stacked on tables and those waiting for take-out were being limited to no more than six at a time. Most patrons chose to wait outside; their names were called from the front door when their orders were ready.

Another group, about 15 to 20 in number, gathered to eat and talk in one corner of the parking lot, behind 4:8 Financial and near a Dumpster enclosure. This group politely declined comment to reporters.

“We’re just eating breakfast,” one man said.

Reached later in the day, Merrill said Saturday had been a much busier day than usual for the little diner, which — like many other restaurants and small businesses — is struggling to stay afloat in the wake of the Covid-related shutdowns.

When officers arrived the previous Saturday, Merrill reportedly told them that finances had motivated his decision to open for full-service, saying “the to-go meals were not cutting it and he has bills to pay.”

A group of diners ate in one corner of the parking lot Saturday morning, near a Dumpster enclosure. They declined comment to reporters. Photo by Tyler Clawson.

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