New law could shut down some small businesses - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

New law could shut down some small businesses

The owner of the Empyrean Coffee House fears a new Washington Law my put her out of business The owner of the Empyrean Coffee House fears a new Washington Law my put her out of business

SPOKANE, Wash. - It's a small coffee house with a big following. The Empyrean, located in downtown Spokane, offers a little bit for anyone, especially those interested in the arts.

Some are hoping it's the arts, specifically music, that will be the answer to save this business.

Six local bands played as part of a benefit concert at the Empyrean Tuesday night to help them pay for fire sprinklers.

Due to a new Washington state building code, places like the Empyrean, that has a dance floor more than 350 feet must have fire sprinklers installed to make sure people are protected.

The new law was put in place after a deadly nightclub fire in Rhode Island.

The problem for the empyrean is, it's going to cost $20,000 to install the sprinklers and owner Chrisy Riddle says that's a lot of money for a small business, "The empyrean has been a dream for me and i love to support the arts, and I believe Spokane is a place where the arts have grown and it's sad for me to see setbacks."

Chrisy said her sister and her opened the empyrean three years ago.

She said they wouldn't have to put sprinklers in if they would get rid of the dance floor and put tables and chairs there instead, but Chrisy said that would cut their occupancy in half and they can't afford that either.

More benefits are planned in September and October to raise money for the Empyrean.

If they do not raise enough money, they will have to close their doors on November 31, 2009, when the new law requires them to have the fire sprinklers.

The Spokane fire department has been enforcing these building codes around the city.

Assistant Chief Brian Shaffer said the fire department is supportive of the Empyrean's objective of achieving compliance and appreciates their efforts to provide a safe venue for the public.

Cindi DeHoog
KHQ Reporter

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