By Juli McDonald

LYNN (CBS) – For Chef Rachel Miller, the dream of her unique seafood restaurant in Lynn has been many years in the making.

“This is Nightshade Noodle Bar. We serve eclectic Vietnamese and French small plates and noodles,” Miller said. “Ever since I was a kid I knew I wanted my own restaurant. I’ve been working toward it since I was a teenager.”

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And like every restaurant owner, she never could have prepared for the nightmare of Covid. The shutdown, rebranding with a takeout-friendly menu, and now a challenging staffing shortage.

Rachel Miller owner of Nightshade Noodle Bar (WBZ-TV)

“I’m like oh my gosh I just want to cook dinner,” she said. “When is it going to stop?”

When they welcomed diners back inside in July, Rachel felt strongly about making it safe for everyone – her staff and their loyal patrons. She decided to require masking and proof of vaccination.

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“I don’t want my staff to deal with it. They’re all stretched thin. Everyone here wears like three hats. Eliminating the possible confrontation by getting it out there on the internet is the bulk of my objective,” she said.

Sign posted at NightShade Noodle Bar in Lynn about vaccine requirement (WBZ-TV)

And so she did. In a passionate post this week, Rachel confronted her recent critics, writing in part: “We are all doing our best and don’t deserve to feel unsafe or uncomfortable at work. The policy is not JUST ABOUT YOU or JUST ME. This is about RESPECT, FOR EVERYONE, AND PUBLIC HEALTH.”

“If people don’t want to contribute to the health of their communities and society in general by getting the vaccine and wearing a mask and trying to do things for the betterment of everyone I don’t want them in here,” Miller said.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive – and that’s exactly the environment she’s looking to create.

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“We’re here to do nice things for people. We should have that graciousness all the time,” Miller said.

Juli McDonald