Minnesota Department of Health files lawsuit against Alibi Drinkery

The Lakeville bar has been in the news for defying orders.
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Alibi Drinkery in Lakeville.

Alibi Drinkery in Lakeville is now being sued by the Minnesota Department of Health for continuing to serve food and beverages despite the state suspending its license to do so. 

The lawsuit was filed Jan. 22, with the Department of Health announcing Saturday that Alibi "continues to operate as a food and beverage establishment without a license." 

Alibi was notified of the suspension Dec. 22, with the bar's license expiring on the last day of 2020. MDH's release says: "Since then, MDH staff found in follow-up inspections that the establishment continued to operate in violation of these notices and regulatory actions."

“We do not take enforcement actions lightly,” said MDH Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff, in a prepared statement. “Even when there is no pandemic, the public depends upon the licensing of bars and restaurants as a basic public health measure – which is why the legislature requires that bars and restaurants have an active license in order to serve the public.”

Minnesota bars and restaurants are currently allowed to serve customers indoors at 50% capacity. 

State's actions against Alibi

Here's a timeline of the action the state has taken and what's to come for Alibi:

Walz issued an executive order on Nov. 18, 2020, prohibiting in-person dining at bars and restaurants. On Dec. 16, Walz extended that order through Jan. 10.

Alibi co-owner Lisa Monet Zarza advertised that the bar would reopen on Dec. 16, 2020, in defiance of the governor's order.

MDH on Dec. 18, 2020, issued a cease-and-desist order after Alibi was found to be open for in-person service and employees not wearing masks after it posted on social media that it was reopening on Dec. 16, 2020, despite the executive orders prohibiting it.

On Dec. 17, 2020, Ellison's office said it filed a lawsuit and a separate temporary restraining order against Alibi. On Dec. 18, 2020, Dakota County District Court granted the temporary restraining order, forcing the restaurant to close or it would be found in contempt of court.

On Dec. 31, 2020, Dakota County District Court granted Ellison's motion for a temporary injunction that will remain in effect for the duration of the state's lawsuit against Alibi. With this order, Alibi must remain closed to in-person service through Jan. 10 or risk being found in civil contempt of court and could result in its liquor license being revoked.

The Minnesota Department of Safety (DPS) on Dec. 31, 2020, informed Alibi it faces a five-year liquor license revocation for "ongoing and blatant violations" of the governor's executive orders.

That same day, Ellison asked the court to find Alibi in contempt of court for continuing to offer in-person service in violation of the executive order, meaning the eatery could face monetary sanctions and/or imprisonment. Alibi had closed Dec. 22, 2020, but reopened on Dec. 31, 2020.

On Jan. 7, a Dakota County District Court judge found Alibi in contempt of court and ordered it to pay a fine of $3,000 for every day that it allows indoor dining. That prompted Zarza to close the bar for four days to avoid $12,000 in fines. 

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