Department of Public Safety, Keith Ellison shut down more restaurants and bars

“The very few (establishments) that aren’t complying are simply prolonging the pandemic and the pain it’s caused all of us,” Keith Ellison said.

Three Minnesota restaurants are facing liquor license suspensions after opening for on-premises dining against the governor’s executive orders.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division has let Cornerstone Café in Monticello, The Interchange in Albert Lea and The Pour House in Clarks Grove know of its intention to revoke their liquor licenses for 60 days for violating Gov. Tim Walz’s Executive Order 20-99. Last week, agents of the DPS saw patrons in each of these establishments consuming alcohol indoors.

A news release from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety declares that its investigators “observed patrons inside consuming beverages in glass bottles consistent with beer in violation of EO-99” at The Pour House.

These three restaurants will have hearings before an administrative law judge before their licenses are suspended.

Four other establishments were previously issued notices of liquor license suspensions and the DPS’s intention to revoke those licenses for five years if further violations occur.

Alibi Drinkery in Lakeville, Mission Tavern in Merrifield, Neighbors on the Rum in Princeton and Boardwalk Bar & Grill in East Grand Forks, which the Attorney General’s Office also has a temporary restraining order against, are among those facing suspensions.

Cease-and-desist orders and restraining orders

Meanwhile, Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office has filed lawsuits against Cornerstone Café, Cork in Anoka, Neighbors on the Rum, Boardwalk Bar & Grill and St. Patrick’s Tavern in New Prague.

Neighbors in Princeton voluntarily closed after Ellison’s office filed suit. Others remained open, and Ellison has now secured temporary restraining orders against Cornerstone Café, St. Patrick’s and Alibi Drinkery, which risk “being found in contempt of court” if they continue to remain open.

On Dec. 23, a Polk County judge ordered Boardwalk Bar & Grill to close for indoor dining.

The Minnesota Department of Health cracked down on a few other establishments that were open for in-person dining last week after discovering violations from social media posts, news organizations and sending their own investigators to the establishments. MDH issued cease-and-desist orders to Pizza Depot in Becker, Hooligans Lakeside in Lake Park and The Interchange in Albert Lea.

A statement from the Attorney General’s Office states, “On December 17, The Interchange held an indoor concert. By December 18, the Minnesota Department of Health had served a cease-and-desist order on The Interchange, but a representative of the restaurant vowed that it would continue to allow on-site dining. The restaurant was still open on December 19.”

As of today, Ellison’s office has a temporary restraining order against The Interchange, which also faces “being found in contempt of court” if it continues to remain open.

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 very few (establishments) that aren’t complying are simply prolonging the pandemic and the pain it’s caused all of us,” Ellison said in a statement.