Attorney General Keith Ellison's office has settled pandemic-related lawsuits against two Minnesota restaurants accused of violating Gov. Tim Walz's executive orders.
The central Minnesota chain Shady's and Boardway Bar and Grill in East Grand Forks were among the businesses the state took action against during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they've both agreed to pay tens of thousands of dollars to resolve the lawsuits.
“The vast majority of restaurants and businesses around the state complied with the governor’s orders: they put the health and safety of their customers and community ahead of their profits, and I thank them for it," Ellison said in a statement. "They should not suffer unfair and illegal competition from other businesses just because they did the right thing. We continue to be committed to holding accountable those entities that put public safety at risk. I am pleased that these businesses finally chose to take responsibility for their actions."
Ellison's office settled its lawsuit against Shady's, which has six locations in Stearns, Benton and Todd counties, with the chain agreeing to pay $30,000 to the State of Minnesota for threatening to violate an executive order, per the consent judgement filed earlier this month
This settlement stems from Shady's widely publicizing threats to host hundreds of people for a reopening party in violation of an executive order that prohibited such activities. Ellison's office filed its first complaint in May 2020, at which point the state obtained a temporary restraining order to prevent Shady's illegal reopening party.
According to Ellison's office:
"Shady’s brought counterclaims against the governor and other state officials, all of which were dismissed following opposition from the Attorney General’s Office. In August 2021, the Attorney General’s Office won summary judgment on its claims and was permitted to seek fees for its litigation costs."
As for the Boardwalk Bar and Grill, a consent judgement last month requires the restaurant to pay $25,000 for violating Gov. Walz's four-week dial back of restrictions last winter, as COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths were spiking statewide.
The attorney's office filed a lawsuit against Boardwalk for opening to in-person dining in December 2020. Ellison's office later won a temporary injunction.
The restaurant was also required to serve a 30-day suspension of its liquor and food and beverage licenses in separate settlements with the Minnesota Departments of Public Safety and Health.