Spokane restaurant closes; blames loiterers

SPOKANE — The owner of a downtown Spokane restaurant says it is being forced to close because people loitering nearby drove customers away.

The restaurant called Beignets opened in July and owner Judie Sowards said dozens of young people who appeared to be homeless have been hanging out across the street, wrecking the atmosphere.

The Spokesman-Review reported that the area became a hangout after the Spokane Transit Authority closed its smoking area at the STA Plaza.

Police said they have increased patrols, but behavior that may be considered a nuisance is not illegal.

City Council President Ben Stuckart said the city, transit authority and Downtown Spokane Partnership increased security and began hosing down sidewalks twice a day. He said the restaurant likely closed for reasons other than loitering.

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