With no more mandate, Johnson County businesses make their own mask rules — here’s how it’s going

Johnson County businesses masks

With no more countywide mask mandate, Johnson County businesses are left to enforcing their own COVID-19 rules. The sign above, on the front door of Filling Station Coffee on Johnson Drive in Overland Park, asks customers to wear a mask inside. A manager at the cafe says, so far, customers have been compliant with that request. Photo credit Juliana Garcia.

Johnson County may have lifted its countywide mask mandate, but many businesses are still encouraging — and, in some cases, requiring — customers wear masks on their premises.

Filling Station Coffee, 7420 Johnson Drive, is one of these establishments. Mikala Roach said.

Filling Station Overland Park
Places like Overland Park’s Filling Station, across the street from Shawnee Mission North, are among businesses still asking guests to wear masks.

Filling Station is owned by FairWave Coffee Collective, which operates several cafes in the Kansas City metro with locations on both sides of State Line Road.

Mikala Roach, manager at the Johnson Drive location, said FairWave decided to maintain its mask policy metrowide and still require masks when not eating or drinking at all locations.

Roach said over the past week since Johnson County’s mandate expired, customers have been complying without complaint.

“Honestly, I thought we would have a little more pushback, but everyone has been really chill about it,” Roach said. “As long as we say, ‘We’re a private business, so we’re still requiring masks,’ everyone has taken it really well. We haven’t had many issues with it.”

What other places are doing

Businesses that still require masks can call the police if a person refuses to either put one on or does not leave.

Local law enforcement agencies say if disputes over masks arise, they are planning to try to educate people first before charging someone with trespassing.

In general, police departments in northern Johnson County say they’ve had to respond to very few, if any, calls related to conflicts over masks since the pandemic began.

Red Door Grill, with three Johnson County locations and two others in the Kansas City area, plans on maintaining its COVID-19 mitigation efforts despite the county’s roll back, Director of Operations John Pedersen said.

Despite Red Door’s commitment to mask-wearing and social distancing, Pedersen said guests not wearing masks won’t be kicked out — and Red Door Grill won’t be checking vaccination cards.

Several Johnson County businesses are requiring employees and asking customers to still wear masks despite the county lifting its mandate last week. Red Door Bar and Grill, with three Johnson County locations, is asking customers still wear masks when not eating or drinking — but the restaurant won’t be calling law enforcement on customers who don’t comply. Above, a waitress serves a table at Red Door in Lenexa.

“I’ve always tried to practice the rule of common sense, and I don’t think common sense tells us right now that our guests — or our [staff], for that matter — feel comfortable completely removing masks,” Pedersen said. “I think it feels good to know that we’re on a different side of this thing (COVID-19), but I don’t think that it’s good business to completely remove the masks.”

Still, mask policies and enforcement differ from business to business.

Mission Business District President Jennifer Pugh said she’s heard from a couple of businesses in that city that are no longer requiring masks.

Pugh said those same business owners will put masks on themselves if a majority of customers are wearing masks at any given time.

Likewise, in Overland Park, owners of the Snack Shack hamburger joint say they will not be requiring customers to wear masks inside their storefront on Santa Fe Drive.

Transport Brewery, 11113 Johnson Drive, is among a number of businesses that are — like the county — strongly recommending guests continue to wear masks but not mandating it.

Customers are encouraged to wear masks inside the brewery’s building when not seated at the table, according to a Transport Brewery email alert.

Some grocery stores like Price Chopper, a metro chain owned by Balls Foods, are also taking Transport Brewery’s approach.

“We’ll continue to require our employees to wear masks,” said Casie Broker, chief marketing officer at Price Chopper. “While customers may choose whether or not to wear them, we strongly recommend they continue to shop with masks, in accordance with public health guidelines.”

Leah Wankum contributed to this report.