When the “stay home, stay healthy” order went into effect in March, many businesses were forced to temporarily close their doors. Despite this setback, some of them have managed to make their own silver lining of the situation. Businesses like Monterey Cafe and O’Doherty’s Irish Grille are using this unexpected downtime to make renovations to their establishments.

Monterey Cafe is currently underway with efforts to revamp the back area of its bar, changing its layout and putting in a new karaoke booth. “We’ve always wanted to fully utilize that back area,” said the bar’s co-owner, Jeff Maahs. “We’re exited to make this space a little more versatile.” The new karaoke booth allows for more table seating from its prior layout, and features a removable wall that creates a stage space Maahs says he plans to use for live music sets at night.

As his business prepares to move through Washington state’s phased reopening, Maahs has also used this time to take measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as his bar gradually resumes its lively former state. Karaoke will feature disposable sign-up slips and additional microphones have been purchased, along with new protective covers, which will be cleaned by staff between uses.

Meanwhile, Tim O’Doherty has been hard at work making upgrades to O’Doherty’s Irish Grille while its doors have been closed. “When all of [the closures] first started, we weren’t sure what the journey was going to look like,” he says. Ultimately he decided to seize the opportunity to take on some of the projects his pub would not normally be able to undergo while operating at full capacity on a daily basis. “This has been an itch we’ve wanted to scratch for a long time.”

O’Doherty’s Irish Grille has temporarily relocated all of its kitchen equipment into the seating area in order to install an entirely new kitchen floor. Other minor upgrades have been made to the pub’s main house including new surfaces to the bar floor and bar top. Because he has been unable to generate revenue through his pub, O’Doherty says he turned to “sweat equity”, saving money by doing much of the manual labor on his own with help from staff.

While the “stay home, stay healthy” order continues, both Maahs and O’Doherty say they are eager and ready to open their doors back up to the public as soon as it is responsibly safe to do so. “This has been a difficult time for everyone, but while we and other businesses fix ourselves up, we’re excited Spokane will have a new and improved downtown to look forward to when the time comes.”

Tim O’Doherty stands in the absence of his kitchen equipment while renovations to the floor are underway at O’Doherty’s Irish Grille.