The Lynnwood, Washington pirate-themed bar Vessel Taphouse, a rock club for indie bands, joked about patrons catching COVID-19 and the bar made a ton of headlines. But for the wrong reasons.
The venue posted on social media on Friday (January 28), “Come see the show, maybe catch the virus or just stay home and whine. Tickets 10 bucks or 6 with proof of Omicron positive test!!”
After that post, four employees quit and three bands refused to play another show that same weekend, including the night’s headliner, Atrocity Girl.
“After talking it over, we feel really disturbed this post was ever allowed to be made,” Atrocity Girl wrote on Facebook. “We do not condone this behavior and do not think COVID is a joke.”
The venue owner Steve Hartley said the post was “an ill-advised attempt at humor.”
The employee who made the post has also been let go. Their identity has been kept a secret because of fear of internet harassment, Hartley said.
“We were getting comments that we were trying to infect the public,” Hartley said. “Clearly we have no interest in that. People aren’t going to come and drink if they get sick, and we know that.”
Hartley further explained that the post came from a sense of frustration. During the pandemic, for obvious reasons, people and bands have been reticent to venture out in public and when bands have been paid upfront to play and then they back out or the patrons don’t show up as planned, money and resources are lost. And, he said, “it’s hard for us to hold them accountable for obvious reasons.”
Hartley also said the bar has been struggling to pay rent and has had to let customers go. The community has reportedly had a mixed response to his explanation.
A Facebook page this week read, “We fully encourage EVERYONE, regardless of your beliefs or thoughts on these issues, to come in for REASONABLE and THOUGHTFUL debate with your fellow patrons.”