Restaurant that defied executive orders must pay profits to the state

Cornerstone Café is required to “pay $10,000 to the State of Minnesota, giving up the profits that Cornerstone made while operating in violation of the executive orders.”

Background: Cornerstone Cafe / Commercial Realty Solutions. Right: Keith Ellison / Twitter.

Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Tuesday that his office reached an agreement with Cornerstone Café in Monticello, a restaurant he sued last month for opening in defiance of the governor’s orders.

According to a news release from Ellison’s office, the Wright County District Court accepted the terms of a consent judgment, resulting in the requirement that Cornerstone Café “pay $10,000 to the State of Minnesota, giving up the profits that Cornerstone made while operating in violation of the executive orders.”

Cornerstone Café also must “fully comply” with any and all executive orders involving restaurants and bars in place now and in the future.

If it violates any of these terms included in the settlement, Cornerstone “is liable for a civil penalty of $25,000 to the State of Minnesota.”

Ellison sued the café Dec. 18 for defying an executive order that banned in-person dining, and subsequently secured a temporary restraining order against the establishment. The terms settled upon Tuesday resolve the Dec. 18 lawsuit.

Cornerstone issued a brief statement on its Facebook page, stating that “due to rumors circulating currently, we’d like to set the record straight.” The post indicates that it did reach a “settlement agreement on one of three current lawsuits,” but it continues “to fight within the judicial system.”

Ellison said in Tuesday’s press release, “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.”

He said it does not bring him “joy” to use enforcement actions because education and voluntary compliance from restaurants is his first priority. “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,” Ellison said.

Despite seizing Cornerstone’s total profits from the time period it decided to remain open, the attorney general’s motto, as found in his Twitter bio, declares he is “helping people afford their lives and live with dignity and respect.” Ellison’s biography indicates that one of his “guiding values” is “generosity.”