Health agency suspends license of defiant restaurant owner 

The letter notes that an SWHHS employee “observed approximately 80 to 100 people consuming food and beverages inside Haven’s Garden.” 

Larvita McFarquhar, owner of Havens Garden. (Havens Garden/Facebook)

A local health agency has suspended the food service license of a Lynd, Minnesota, restaurant owner after she opened her café for in-person service in defiance of Gov. Tim Walz’s orders.

Southwest Health and Human Services (SWHHS) sent a letter last week to Larvita McFarquhar, owner of Haven’s Garden, warning her that a scheduled open-mic night would violate the state’s COVID-19 regulations.

McFarquhar was also threatened with thousands of dollars in fines, up to a year in jail and a lawsuit by the Attorney General’s Office, Alpha News reported. She proceeded with the event anyway.

On Wednesday, SWHHS sent McFarquhar a letter to inform her that her food service license has been suspended, meaning she cannot operate her restaurant.

The letter notes that an SWHHS employee “observed approximately 80 to 100 people consuming food and beverages inside Haven’s Garden.”

“Indoor dining that occurred on November 27 is a violation of EO 20-99,” the letter says, referring to an executive order issued by Walz.

“Therefore, under authority of the Lyon County Public Health Administrative/Food and Beverage Ordinances and being the appointed representative for the SWHHS Community Health Board, the license to operate your food establishment is suspended,” it continues.

The letter, which labels McFarquhar’s case “high” risk, warns that she could face additional fines and jail time for operating her restaurant during a license suspension. The local agency is also requiring her to pay a “re-inspection fee” for “follow-up inspections related to the enforcement” of Walz’s orders.

McFarquhar plans to appeal the suspension and then will be required to participate in a hearing.

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