Judge orders single mother to close down restaurant

Judge Sara Grewing was appointed in 2015 by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and once worked as a state director for U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar. 

Larvita McFarquhar, left, owner of Haven's Garden, and Judge Sara Grewing, right.

A Ramsey County judge has ordered a Lynd, Minnesota, restaurant owner to close her doors or risk being held in contempt of court.

Larvita McFarquhar, owner of Haven’s Garden, has refused to comply with the governor’s COVID-19 mandates, gaining national attention for her defiant stand.

On Thursday, Ramsey County District Court Judge Sara Grewing granted the state’s request for a temporary injunction, meaning McFarquhar must comply with Gov. Tim Walz’s ban on in-person dining or face additional penalties.

“This Court is deeply sympathetic to the great threat that Executive Order 20-99 poses to the Defendant’s livelihood, as well as to the livelihoods of restaurants and small business owners across Minnesota. On balance, however, the risk to public health and the safety of Minnesotans is greater than Defendant’s individual interests, and this factor weighs in favor of the State,” Grewing said in her ruling.

Grewing was appointed in 2015 by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and once worked as a state director for U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

At a court hearing Wednesday, McFarquhar’s attorney, Nathan Hansen, argued that the governor’s executive order violates his client’s 14th Amendment rights to equal protection under the law, since restaurants and bars are still open on tribal lands but must close everywhere else. Additionally, Hansen argued that Public Law 280 provides the state with the authority to close down businesses on Indian reservations.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom threatened to invoke Public Law 280 earlier this year when he successfully pressured a tribal government into canceling a UFC event, Hansen said.

“If this is the crisis that they say it is,” then the state should shut down bars and restaurants on tribal lands, said Hansen.

“This is shocking to me that the government has the ability to shut these down but won’t,” he added.

Grewing, however, found that “there is no basis for this Court to conclude that the Governor of Minnesota has the authority to regulate the business activity of a separate sovereign nation that is entitled to self-determination under federal law.”

According to Hansen, McFarquhar has decided to not comply with the court’s order “as an act of civil disobedience, as she believes it is unfair that bars and restaurants are open on Indian reservations while she is required to remain closed for inside service.”

Hansen stressed that he always advises his clients to comply with court orders.

Another court hearing has been scheduled for Friday at 1:30 p.m. At that time, Grewing will determine whether McFarquhar is in contempt of court, which comes with the possible penalty of imprisonment, Hansen said.

McFarquhar reacted to the ruling in an emotional video she posted to Facebook Thursday.

“I will not be shutting down. I am open and I will remain open until people stand together and know that people are dying, not from the coronavirus but from shutting down America. People are committing suicide. People are losing everything. They’re losing their homes, they’re losing their businesses, they’re losing their families. I need people to stand with me,” she said.

Update: Judge Grewing found McFarquhar in contempt of court during Friday’s hearing and she will be fined $250 for each day that she keeps her restaurant open.

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