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MN Attorney General seeks contempt order against Lakeville bar for violation of COVID executive order

The business, and another in Albert Lea, also face a potential five-year liquor license suspension.
Credit: KARE

LAKEVILLE, Minn. — The Minnesota Attorney General's Office said it will ask a Dakota County judge to find Alibi Drinkery in Lakeville in contempt of court for continuing to operate in violation of a COVID-19 pandemic executive order, despite a court-issued injunction prohibiting the business from opening to the public.

A hearing in the case is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 5.

In the injunction issued on Thursday, the court said Alibi Drinkery's initial opening earlier this month was "exploiting the good conduct of others in the community who are following the law."

The Attorney General's Office said owner Lisa Zarza told the court the business was closed again on Dec. 22; but on Dec. 30, Alibi Drinkery began to publicly advertise it would reopen, and was observed to be serving customers indoors on New Year's Eve.

"We will be reopening tomorrow at 11am," Alibi Drinkery said in a Dec. 30 Facebook post. "Three years ago tomorrow we opened our doors at Alibi Drinkery.  And we will open our doors tomorrow." 

Attorney General Keith Ellison noted that thousands of other Minnesota businesses are complying with the executive order.

“I take no pleasure in seeking this sanction, but I cannot allow this establishment to prolong Minnesota’s pain,” Ellison said in a statement. “Nearly all Minnesota businesses are meeting their responsibility to their communities to stop the spread of COVID-19, but this establishment is defying the court and the community and risking Minnesotans’ lives.”

Alibi owner Lisa Garza previously told KARE 11 her reasoning for opening earlier this month:

"I put a big fat bullseye on our back for a reason, because I know they're going to come after every single business anyways, and I wanted to make sure I had thousands of supporters here," she said at the time.

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If the court finds the business in contempt, it could impose additional fines, sanctions, or potential jail time for the owner.

Also on Thursday, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division (DPS-AGED) said Alibi Drinkery and The Interchange in Albert Lea both faced a potential five-year suspension of their liquor licenses for continuing to operate in violation of the executive order.

A court previously issued a restraining order against The Interchange on Dec. 23.

DPS-AGED previously warned both businesses that they could face a 60-day suspension, which could increase to five years with additional violations.

"Both establishments continue to sell or advertise the sale of alcohol for indoor, on-premises consumption in violation of the executive orders, and neither have come into compliance after numerous requests, notifications and court actions," DPS-AGED said in a statement.

RELATED: Minnesota restaurants reopen for winter patio season with new guidelines

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