MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A bar in Albert Lea that was already facing a possible five-year suspension of its liquor license for remaining open for indoor service has now been found in contempt of court.
The Interchange Wine and Coffee Bistro has been in headlines for defying Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order barring indoor dining. The bar’s owner, Lisa Hanson, organized a march recently in protest of that order that was attended by about 200 people.
“It’s time for us patriots to rise up, in a peaceful way of course, and to say, ‘Hey, enough is enough,'” owner Lisa Hanson said Sunday.
On Friday, a Freeborn County District Court found The Interchange in contempt of court. The bar was ordered to pay a fine of $3,000 each day that it’s open for indoor dining in violation of the executive orders. It was also noted that when the restrictions are somewhat relaxed in the ensuing days, the bar needs to comply with those capacity parameters as well.
“I’m glad to see serious consequences for defying the court and endangering Minnesotans. The vast majority of Minnesota bars and restaurants are complying with the law and meeting their responsibility to keep their communities safe,” Attorney General Ellison said. “The very small handful that are not should take note that their willful defiance has real-world consequences, as it should.”
Since mid-December, a temporary restraining order’s been issued against The Interchange. The Minnesota Department of Health has suspended its license.
Hanson readily admits her stand is about principle at least as much as it’s about her business. Inside The Interchange, pocket-size United States Constitutions are laid out on a counter, protest T-shirts are on sale and a tip jar’s been converted to a legal fund.
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