A local bar owner who planned to defy Governor Walz’ executive order for bars and restaurants to remain closed to dine-in customers until June 1, did not open Monday.
Kris Schiffler, who owns six bars in Central Minnesota, including Shady’s Golden Eagle in Burtrum and Shady’s Railside in Rice, had planned to open all six locations Monday, but scaled that back to open only his Albany location, Shady’s Hometown Tavern and Event Center.
A crowd of hundreds gathered outside the establishment for the planned noon opening, but Schiffler announced that on the advice of his lawyer, that the bar and restaurant would not open as planned.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison filed a suit against Schiffler, and warned him prior to Monday that opening would result in a fine of up to $25,000 per day, and could potentially result in revocation of his liquor license.
“The vast majority of Minnesota’s bar and restaurant owners are doing the safe, lawful and right thing during this crisis by keeping their doors closed, while still serving customers as allowed through take-out and drive-up,” Ellison said in a press release. “As hard as it is for them — and I know it’s hard — they’re doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep themselves, their families, their employees and their customers safe from this deadly pandemic. They deserve all of our thanks.”
In a series of videos on his Facebook page, Schiffler said that enough was enough.
“I fought a fight that I didn’t think I was ever going to have to fight. A fight for the small businesses, a fight for the right to be open, a fight for us as Americans to be able to make a living on this, a fight for our employees to come to work,” Schiffler said Saturday, May 16, in a video posted to his Facebook.
Coming to his defense were GOP legislators, including Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls.
“It is truly appalling that the Attorney General would take a small business owner to court simply for trying to save his business,” Kresha said in a statement. “Businesses have followed the governor’s mandates for months now, and many have been driven to the point where they’ll never open their doors again. The fact that our state’s top lawyer is trying to sue a business out of existence is unacceptable. This is government overreach in the extreme.”
The Brickyard Bar and Grill in Pierz and a St. Cloud restaurant had also planned to open Monday, but later decided against it.
Schiffler has vowed on Facebook that he plans to fight Ellison, and supporters started a Gofundme page, which has raised more than $200,000 for legal fees.