Russell Brent said the ‘to-go’ model was simply not going to work for what will be a much longer period of time
Editor’s note: This story was produced and first published by the Vancouver Business Journal, www.vbjusa.com. It is published here with full attribution to and permission of the Vancouver Business Journal and Editor Joanna Yorke.
Russell Brent, owner of Mill Creek Pub in Battle Ground, today announced the closing of the restaurant that has been a huge part of the Battle Ground community for the past eight-and-a-half years. The closure comes on the heels of the impact of COVID-19, which has made several successful restaurants in the area start struggling overnight.
Brent announced the closure with a post on the Mill Creek Pub Facebook page this morning.
“First, I want to thank God for giving me the opportunity to serve the community with food made from the heart at Mill Creek Pub. Next, I want to thank my employees for all of their hard work in that mission. Lastly, I want to thank our guests for supporting us all these years, especially in recent weeks. It is with a heavy heart that I announce the closure of Mill Creek Pub. I am closing for economic reasons; the ‘to-go’ model was simply not going to work for what I see as a longer period of time. Initially, we thought these changes were only going to be for a few weeks – it is clear to us now that it will be longer. We hope to work to get through this and reopen in the future. There will be a lot of work to do to make that happen, God willing. In the meantime stay safe, stay home and wash your hands.”
Mill Creek was one of the numerous restaurants in the area and in the state hit hard when it was announced that all restaurants and bars had to close and offer take-out and/or delivery only due to the coronavirus outbreak. The original order issued by Gov. Jay Inslee said the establishments had to remain closed at least until March 31 – a deadline that will clearly be extended for many more weeks, if not months.
“When your cash flow drops by 85%, very few restaurants are going to survive that,” Brent said, referring to Mill Creek’s drop in revenue after being forced to only to to-go orders. “When you’re in a hole, the best thing to do is put down the shovel. There are so many reasons that this is the right time for us to close.”
Brent emphasized that any money raised for the restaurant will go to pay his employees. He said they have filed for all of the different grants and loans that are aiming to help businesses during the coronavirus outbreak, but said “it’s not going to come in time for most of us.”
“I will wait and see if there’s an opportunity for us to rebuild,” Brent said. “Each restaurant is going to need at least $20,000 – maybe more – just to restock perishables. We would need to renegotiate with our landlord, sign a new lease.”
Today, Brent said he and a skeleton crew at Mill Creek will empty out all of the walk-ins and prepare food boxes for some churches in the area. The churches will be picking up the boxes and delivering them to the doorsteps of some of those in need.
Brent said all of the signs were pointing to this as the right thing to do, and, though he said he hasn’t cried yet, “it’s coming, and my heart is breaking.”