MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Attorney General Keith Ellison has filed lawsuits against two restaurants that, against state orders, opened to indoor dining this week. The suits are directed against Lakeville’s Alibi Drinkery and Princeton’s Neighbors on the Rum.
The restaurants both opened after Gov. Tim Walz issued an extension on parts of the executive order restricting indoor dining until at least Jan. 10, and announced their intentions to do so again on Thursday.
After Alibi Drinkery opened to patrons Wednesday against the governor’s executive order, public safety officials said they intended to suspend the bar’s liquor license for 60 days. But that didn’t deter owner Lisa Zarza. On Thursday, her bar announced that it would again be open for business.
On Facebook, Alibi Drinkery wrote that it was opening at 11 a.m. Thursday for food and drinks, marking the second day in a row where the business was blatantly defying the governor’s order. On Wednesday, patrons could be seen standing shoulder-to-shoulder inside the packed bar, often without masks.
Zarza told WCCO that she’s had enough with Gov. Tim Walz’s executive orders. “There’s no way we could make it another two months not opening,” Zarza said. “It’s scary, but enough is enough, and we’re standing up.”
On Wednesday, Ellison warned that his office will go after businesses that violate the order. “You’re putting people at risk,” he said. “People will get sick and die because of you.”
Ellison’s office says that the Alibi owner said her response to officials asking her to close indoor dining was that she would “see them in court.”
“I know it’s tough out there for businesses and employees and help is already on the way — but what these establishments are doing is wrong. Not just wrong in breaking the law — wrong in exposing their loved ones, their customers, their employees, their communities, and potentially every Minnesotan to COVID-19. People will get sick, and some will die, because they’re breaking the law,” Attorney General Ellison said. “They’re also doing wrong by the vast majority of Minnesota businesses that are serving their communities by complying with the law. Those businesses deserve our thanks and our patronage, not unfair competition. The businesses we’re holding accountable today know what they need to do to comply with the law and instead they’re flouting it. I don’t enjoy using the enforcement tools I have, but it’s my job to protect Minnesotans and I will use them to hold violators accountable and keep Minnesotans safe.”
Ellison’s office announced Thursday evening that a motion for a temporary restraining has been filed against Alibi, which is the next step in the lawsuit.
Four weeks ago, following a record surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths, the governor dialed back the state’s business restrictions. Bars and restaurants were ordered to halt indoor dining, gyms and fitness centers were told to close, youth sports were put on pause, and social gatherings were drastically limited.
Since the order has gone into effect, new COVID-19 case and hospitalization rates have dropped, although the state’s available hospital beds remain near capacity. On Wednesday, Walz announced an extension of his order, as well as some changes. Among them was allowing bars and restaurants to have outdoor dining at limited capacity starting this weekend.
Alibi and Neighbors on the Rum were among dozens of Minnesota bars and restaurants that threatened to open this week once they learned that the ban on indoor dining would be extended. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division (DPS-AGED) said Wednesday that it intended to suspend Alibi’s liquor license for 60 days for defying the order. The Princeton bar was also given the same notice Wednesday after it also violated the order, but has since closed.
DPS-AGED also issued a suspension last week to Boardwalk Bar & Grill in East Grand Forks. Its owners are scheduled to attend a virtual hearing with a judge on Dec. 23.
More On WCCO.com:
- MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell Visits President Trump Friday, Note Caught On Camera
- 7-Year-Old Boy Held Hostage In Brooklyn Park Home Invasion Reunited With Family
- Arrest Made In Stolen Car Crash That Killed St. Paul Grandmother
- Stimulus Check Update: 'I Believe We Have A Moral Obligation,' Says President-Elect Joe Biden