Other than a red piece of paper on the front door, you wouldn’t know anything was amiss at Rolly’s Restaurant in Hope.
Though the District of Hope suspended the restaurant’s business licence for six months, the place was packed with diners enjoying breakfast at 9 a.m.
Owner Muriel Young remained defiant, insisting she won’t ask customers for proof of vaccination.
“I told the health people, ‘We’ve done everything you wanted,’” she said. “We use hand sanitizer. Cleaning of the bathrooms is ongoing. I hired two kids to work all summer spraying menus, so each menu is sterilized. I put plants on every other table for social distancing, and we went broke because of that, so I opened up a patio. We put up dividers. We’re masking. But now they want me to do something illegal and I have to say no.”
Young said she’s facing daily fines of $100 up to $25,000, and if financial pain doesn’t get Rolly’s in line, the possibility of jail time exists.
Part of her fight is based purely on principle, and her belief in medical privacy. But she said there’s a practical reason to stay open as well.
“Around 2 o’clock yesterday, I finished doing payroll,” she said. “There were 39 cheques without mine. There are 40 people being supported by this business, and all we’re doing is standing up for our opinion, which we have the right to do.”
As Young talked, one man walked by the table and gave her a thumbs up.
She said she’s been hugged by customers and even had people pray for her in the oft-packed entryway.
Young heard there was a rally planned for 11 a.m. Friday morning (Oct. 8) and she was not disappointed. More than 50 people, including recent federal election Peoples Party candidate Rob Bogunovic, gathered in the parking lot to show support and protest against vaccine passports and other vaccine mandates.
Young popped outside for a moment to thank the demonstrators for their support.
Rolly’s Restaurant has received additional approval on social media, but Young recognizes that support for the position she’s taken is not universally positive.
Social media reflects that, as does the occasional phone call.
“There are those who phone and say, ‘What an a-hole you are,’ so there’s a negative side to it,” Young said. “I’m not saying there isn’t.”