Ownership of East Grand Forks' Boardwalk Bar and Grill goes from three to one
After two co-owners sold their shares of the East Grand Forks restaurant, Jane Moss opened, defying the Minnesota governor's executive orders. Former co-owner Dan Stauss says he completely supports Moss in her efforts to re-open the business amid a state shutdown and defend herself from a lawsuit. Moss was scheduled to electronically attend a hearing before the Polk County District Court on the attorney general’s lawsuit on Wednesday, Dec. 16. The hearing has been canceled, according to online district court records.
East Grand Forks city records show that last week, the same day it re-opened, ownership of the Boardwalk Bar and Grill changed from a trio of individuals to one. Though he is no longer a co-owner, Dan Stauss said he supports Jane Moss in her legal effort against a state lawsuit.
An information sheet that accompanies alcohol license applications shows that Moss is now the sole owner of the business. The request to make the change was sent to the city on Tuesday, Dec. 8, then signed by Moss the following day, which was when the Boardwalk opened for dine-in service despite restrictions mandated by Gov. Tim Walz. A similar document from May 13 showed Moss as a 25% owner, along with Dan and Scott Stauss, each of whom had a 37.5% stake in the restaurant.
“They sold it to me,” Moss told the Herald in a morning phone call on Tuesday, Dec. 15. “I pushed them for it because I knew that this is what I was going to be doing, and I didn't want them to face any consequences.”
Moss declined to comment, but Dan Stauss, who owns the building with his business partner, Scott Stauss, in a phone call with the Herald Tuesday discussed the state-mandated shutdown and the impact it has on businesses in border towns such as East Grand Forks – especially when people can cross a bridge to go to a restaurant in Grand Forks, where restrictions are looser and business generally continues.
“I don't agree with the state, I don't agree with the mandate, any of this stuff,” he said.
Despite no longer being involved with the restaurant, Dan Stauss made it clear that he supports efforts by Moss to defend herself against the lawsuit and reopen her business.
“Jane is a personal friend of mine, and I believe 100% in what she's doing,” he said.
Dan Stauss told the Herald he and Scott Stauss exited the partnership with the restaurant before the lawsuit was filed and before Moss decided to re-open the restaurant. He didn’t provide the exact date, but estimated it was about three weeks ago. Stauss said he and Scott Stauss figured it was time to get out, considering the plight of similar businesses in the state.
“There's a time to start, and there's a time to finish,” he said, and added the outcome of the lawsuit would impact his decision to sell or keep the building that houses the Boardwalk.
Dan Stauss also assailed the complaint filed Dec. 11 against Moss by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. He called provisions in the document “ridiculous,” including one that pointed to a study that indicated a person contracted COVID-19, after sitting 21 feet away from an infected person for five minutes in a restaurant.
“This is outlandish,” Stauss said. “How could that person ever think at that very moment, 21 feet away, five minutes, that's where they got the virus?”
Ellison sued the restaurant for violating Executive Order 20-99, which bars restaurants from offering dine-in service through Dec. 18. Later that day, a Polk County District Court judge granted Ellison’s request for a temporary restraining order that barred the business from allowing patrons to eat on the premises.
Nonetheless, the Boardwalk remained open on Friday, then opened again on Saturday, which prompted the state to suspend its liquor license for 60 days, with the threat of a five-year suspension should it continue to violate those orders.
Moss was scheduled to electronically attend a hearing before the Polk County District Court on the attorney general’s lawsuit on Wednesday, Dec. 16. The hearing has been canceled, according to online district court records, and no reason was listed. However, the docket shows there has been a filing made to have Judge Corey Harbott removed from the case and replaced with Judge Anne Marie Rasmusson.
Moss has been working with Minnesota political action committee Action 4 Liberty to raise funds for her legal defense, and, at present, has raised more than $15,000. The committee opposes the governor's ability to close some Minnesota businesses.
Monday evening, the Legislature extended unemployment insurance for Minnesotans and waived regulatory fees for bars and restaurants. In the most impactful move, legislators there approved a $242 million aid package for businesses and counties.
Herald reporter Hannah Shirley contributed to this report.