MDH files lawsuit against Lakeville restaurant for operating without license

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The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) filed a lawsuit on Friday against Alibi Drinkery, located in Lakeville, for operating as a food and beverage service without a license.

MDH notified Alibi Drinkery on Dec. 22, 2020, that its license to operate as a food and beverage service establishment would be suspended after twenty days. Separately, that license to operate as a food and beverage service establishment expired on Dec. 31, 2020. Alibi Drinkery continues to operate as a food and beverage establishment without a license, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 157.16

“We do not take enforcement actions lightly,” said Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff. “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.”

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The lawsuit, filed on Friday in district court, follows several regulatory actions from MDH, the Department of Public Safety and the Attorney General’s office, including a cease-and-desist order, operating license suspension notice, liquor license suspension notice, and an additional ongoing lawsuit, said MDH.

Gov. Tim Walz issued Executive Order 20-99 on Nov. 18, 2020. The executive order prohibited bars and restaurants from offering on-premises dining. The executive order was issued at a time of rapid acceleration in the spread of COVID-19 across Minnesota and sought to protect Minnesotans while also preventing hospitals and health care systems from becoming overwhelmed by the surge in cases.

According to MDH, in December, the establishment announced in a social media post that it was open and welcoming customers to come in for food and drinks. Photos of customers eating and drinking in violation of the executive order were published on social media and in the news. MDH issued a cease-and-desist order and license suspension notice.

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Since then, MDH staff found in follow-up inspections that the establishment continued to operate in violation of these notices and regulatory actions.

“The vast majority of businesses are doing their best to help slow down the spread of COVID-19,” said Huff. “Establishments who operated in defiance do not get a free pass. Thousands of other bars and restaurants made sacrifices for the protection of our public health, and we are grateful for their cooperation and selflessness.”