BOISE, Idaho — At KIN in downtown Boise, guests will now be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative coronavirus test two days before they can sit down and eat in the restaurant's tasting room.

Remi McManus, the owner of KIN, told The 208 that the staff collectively decided that to open their tasting room and be able to offer the best service possible, guests would need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test two days before a reservation.

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"To provide an environment that is welcoming to the guests and to the staff, we felt like it was an important step that we needed to take," McManus said.

When KIN announced their decision, negative reactions flooded in on social media, including comparisons between the policy and Nazi Germany and the Devil. But they've also received positive feedback.

"The people who have supported us for years and years are coming out of the woodwork yet again and then-new supporters are starting to show us that they are behind every decision that we make," McManus said.

McManus said the positive feedback has outweighed the negative.

"There has been some opposition to the decisions that we have made not only with this but with every decision that you make you will see opposition," he said.

McManus said it was the right decision for the restaurant.

"Sitting very close to your neighbor in lieu of distancing and in lieu of mask-wearing, obviously you see a communal experience when you are experiencing a dinner like this," he said.

Kris Komori, the chef and co-owner of KIN, told The 208 they're continuing to receive a lot of support.

"Personal texts, as well as people coming out and saying that they enjoyed that in a time when they haven't been able to feel comfortable going out and experiencing dining like they had in the past, they now feel like there's a little bit of that," Komori said.

After a year and a half of picnic nights, home meal deliveries and cocktail bar service, McManus was determined to finally open KIN's indoor tasting room, and this time, COVID-19 isn't going to get in the way.

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"The style of dining is meant to be communal and shared, so much of eating and dining is not necessarily the food and the beverage, that's part of it but it's connecting with people and we need to make sure that connection is intimate and genuine and you can't have that if people are feeling apprehensive in ways," Komori said.

According to owners, the extra safety is worth the reward.

"We are not health care professionals, we are restauranteurs who are providing an experience to guests that is unlike any other experience in Boise," McManus said. "We all have families, we all have people that we care about throughout the city so all of those decisions and all of those conversations lead to the decisions that we make."

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