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Cornerstone Cafe faces further enforcement

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Cornerstone Cafe in Monticello has been ordered by a Wright County Court to halt indoor on-premises dining.

The action came Wednesday, Dec. 23 in a Wright County Circuit Court in Buffalo after Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office took action against the restaurant for violating Governor Tim Walz’s Executive Order 20-99 by opening for business during the week of December 14.

The Minnesota Department of Health has also taken further action against Cornerstone Cafe. 

On Saturday, Dec. 26, the agency announced Cornerstone received a cease-and-desist order after violating executive orders designed to protect Minnesotans from COVID-19.  

A notice of license suspension was also issued to Cornerstone Cafe, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Health.

On December 23, Wright County District Court granted the attorney general office’s motion for a temporary restraining order against Cornerstone Cafe in Monticello. The action came two days after the Attorney General’s office filed for a temporary restraining order on Monday, December 21 to prevent Cornerstone from further violating the order and to compel it to comply with the order and any future applicable executive orders.  

In granting the order, the court wrote, “There is good cause to believe the State will prevail on the merits of its claims that Defendant is violating and about to violate the Orders.” 

The court ordered that Cornerstone is “prevented, restrained, and enjoined from taking any action violating Executive Order 20-99 as modified and extended by Executive Order 20-103, including  but not limited to offering indoor on-premises consumption of food or beverages and allowing more than five members of the public inside its restaurant at one time,” and that it “shall fully comply with Executive Order 20-99 as modified and extended by Executive Order 20-103 and any future Executive Orders.

Cornerstone must now comply with the orders or risk being found in contempt of court.

“Yet another court has recognized the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and the firm legal foundation of the State’s legitimate interest in putting a stop to it,” Attorney General Ellison said. “I thank the thousands of Minnesota bars and restaurants that have done the right thing and met their responsibility to their communities by continuing to follow the law. A handful are choosing to ignore their responsibility: by so doing, they’re simply extending the pain the pandemic has already wrought upon all of us.”

The cease-and-desist order and license suspension came days after a Minnesota Department of Health inspector visited  Cornerstone Café and found the establishment was open for on-premises consumption in violation of Executive Order 20-99, and employees were working without masks in violation of Executive Order 20-81.

According to MDH Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff, enforcement actions are a last resort when it is clear that education and outreach are not sufficient to help a regulated establishment come into compliance with requirements. 

The Minnesota Attorney General’s office initially filed a lawsuit against Cornerstone Cafe on Friday, Dec. 18 for operating inside dining operations in violation of Governor Tim Walz’s executive order 20-99 prohibiting on-premise dining at restaurants. A day after the state attorney general’s office filed a lawsuit against the Cornerstone Cafe for opening for the inside consumption of food, the restaurant was notified Saturday, Dec. 19 that was facing the suspension of its liquor license.

Editor

Jeff Hage is the managing editor of the Monticello Times. He majored in journalism at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire.

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