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‘I don’t have a choice,’ East Grand Forks restaurant owner defies Minn. shutdown order

Jane Moss said she didn't have a choice but to risk it all.

East Grand Forks restaurant owner expects legal "repercussions" for defying Governor's Walz's shutdown order
Boardwalk Bar & Grill owner Jane Moss talks with patrons on the first night she re-opened.

EAST GRAND FORKS — Erica Young was happy to get her mouth on some lavosh with her family the night of Wednesday, Dec. 9. She last had it the same day the Boardwalk Bar & Grill was forced to close under Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz's second shutdown order.

"We don't want to see these communities lose these places for good," she said.

Boardwalk patron Mark Rustad was craving beer and wings.

"If we can support protests down the street we can surely go have a meal," he said.

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Owner Jane Moss said defying the governor's order was the only choice she had left.

"What have I got to lose? I have to go out fighting," she said.

She described the financial losses from the shutdown as astronomical.

"I don't even know if we can stay open through the shutdown," Moss said.

She said the decision to reopen was also about her employees' wellbeing.

"It's not the financial aspect, it's the psychological aspect of not knowing," she said.

Moss said she made the decision now because it is widely speculated within the bar and restaurant industry that Walz will likely extend his order prohibiting dine-in service, which is expected to expire at the end of next week. She believes it will be extended for months.

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"My employees have been looking to me for an answer, and the only answer I can give them is 'we will open up,'" said Moss.

East Grand Forks Police Chief Mike Hedlund provided her a copy of the governor's executive order. Moss could face a $25,000 fine and lose her licenses to operate.

"I know there are going to be repercussions, but I believe in our community, too, that they will support having us back open," said Moss.

She is hoping other east side businesses will step up to the plate with her.

"I want to encourage them, too. If they can't make it through the shutdown, what have you got to lose? Might as well open up and give it a shot," Moss said.

Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at mhenson@wday.com and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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