Greg and Jen Ashfeld reopened their Cornerstone Cafe to on-premise dining on Tuesday, Jan. 12 after a temporary closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

January 12 also marked the day the restaurant owners reached a settlement agreement after being sued by the office of the Minnesota Attorney General for opening their Monticello restaurant in defiance of a state-mandated shut-down of bars and restaurants issued in mid-November 2020 by Gov. Tim Walz.

Cornerstone Cafe will pay $10,000 to the State of Minnesota as part of the settlement, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said in statement released Tuesday, Jan. 12.

The $10,000 represents the profits generated by Cornerstone Cafe while it violated Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order banning indoor, on-premise dining in Minnesota bars and restaurants.

Under the provisions of a consent judgment accepted Tuesday, Jan. 12 by the Wright County District Court in Buffalo, Cornerstone Cafe will pay the $10,000 it made while in violation of Walz’s executive order and fully comply with all current and future executive orders pertaining to bars and restaurants.

If Cornerstone Cafe violates any of the terms of the settlement it is liable for a civil penalty of $25,000, according to a statement from the Attorney General’s Office.

On Dec. 18, 2020,Ellison’s office sued Cornerstone Cafe for openly violating the ban on indoor on-premise dining.

Four days later, on Dec. 22, 2020, the office was granted a temporary restraining order against Cornerstone Cafe.

“I thank this establishment for agreeing to meet its responsibility to help all Minnesotans stop the spread of COVID-19 and congratulate it on rejoining the vast majority of Minnesota bars and restaurants that are already doing so,” Attorney General Ellison said. “It brings me no joy to bring enforcement actions, because our top priority has always been education and voluntarily compliance and enforcement has always been a last resort. Today’s settlement can be a sign to the very small handful of establishments that are violating the executive orders that compliance is still available to them.”


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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