Boardwalk Bar and Grill attorney files appeal in civil case
Marshall Tanick, who represents the East Grand Forks restaurant, has asked the appellate court to expedite the proceedings.
The Boardwalk Bar and Grill has appealed a Polk County judge’s decision that it must comply with an executive order prohibiting dine-in services.
Marshall Tanick, the Twin Cities-based attorney representing the Boardwalk, said the goal of the appeal is to allow the business to stay open.
“The goal of the case is to overturn the trial court decision,” he said. “But the second goal is to get some judicial guidance about how these cases should be handled and addressed on some of these rather complex issues.”
The Boardwalk’s legal troubles began on Dec. 11, when the East Grand Forks restaurant opened its dining room in defiance of Gov. Tim Walz’s emergency order prohibiting dine-in services in bars and restaurants. The order aimed to curb the rapid spread of COVID-19 in Minnesota’s eateries, which have been shown to be common hotspots for the virus.
But owner Jane Moss said the order left her in a financially untenable position. According to court documents, she had to lay off 20 employees and has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential income because of the shutdown.
After the restaurant opened, Polk County District Judge Corey Harbott ordered it to comply with the order pending a civil hearing in a lawsuit filed on behalf of the Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. That hearing was held Dec. 18.
In a judicial order issued days later, Polk County District Judge Mary Anne Rasmusson decided that the Boardwalk must comply with the governor’s order . She wrote that, while she recognized the lose-lose position Minnesota restaurants had been put in, especially in towns bordering states with fewer restrictions, allowing the establishments to operate as normal would pose too great a danger to the public’s health and safety.
The appeal follows closely after the Minnesota Department of Health took action against two other businesses, Jamieson’s on Main, in Oslo, and Long Pine Store and Pizza, north of Pine River. Both businesses were served with cease-and-desist letters, and their licenses to operate were suspended for 60 days.
The suspensions occurred after MDH inspected those businesses last week and found them to be open to dine-in service, in violation of Executive Order 20-99, which Gov. Tim Walz initiated on Nov. 18. That order was later extended to Jan. 11. A Dec. 28 news release from the department states that enforcement actions are taken as a last resort, after outreach and education attempts fail to bring businesses into compliance with the order.
“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been providing GovDelivery messages to regulated facilities informing them of the requirements,” wrote Angie Cyr, program manager for the MDH Food, Pools & Lodging Services Section, in an email to the Herald. “We’ve been meeting routinely with Hospitality Minnesota as well to share information. When feasible, our staff and local public health partners engage with businesses to help them become compliant.”
Corey Jamieson, who runs Jamieson’s on Main, did not return a message seeking comment on the bar’s license suspension.
Joe’s Diner in East Grand Forks also opened for dine-in services earlier this month in defiance of the governor’s order, but, as of Tuesday, Dec. 29, the eatery had resumed takeout-only operations.
Boardwalk Bar and Grill owner Jane Moss will next appear in court for a scheduling hearing on Feb. 2, when the court will schedule a trial in the civil case, though there is a chance that court date will be suspended because of the appeal. A date has not yet been set in the appellate court, but Tanick said he has requested that the court expedite the proceedings.