Restaurant owner defying Walz’s order ‘in waiting game’
Health official warns next step would be emergency closure; suspension of license
LYND — The owner of a Lynd restaurant that opened for dine-in service in spite of an executive order from the governor said Tuesday there have not yet been any disciplinary actions taken against her business.
“The truth is, it’s a waiting game,” said Larvita McFarquhar, owner of Haven’s Garden in Lynd. McFarquhar said she had not heard of any further actions from the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office or area health officials since Friday, when the restaurant opened for dining and music. She said she still planned to open Haven’s Garden for regular hours starting today.
Haven’s Garden advertised on Facebook last week that it would open for food and music from 9-11 p.m. last Friday. McFarquhar estimated around 100 people showed up, although not all of them stayed for the entire time.
“Some people came really early,” she said. “We had a wonderful turnout. People have been very supportive.”
Haven’s Garden — formerly called Trev’s Kitchen — has a food service license from Southwest Health and Human Services, said SWHHS Environmental Health Manager Jason Kloss. Last week, SWHHS was in contact with McFarquhar about her business potentially violating the executive order against dine-in service. A Nov. 25 letter from SWHHS also warned McFarquhar that the indoor dining and gathering planned Friday would be a violation of the executive order, and would require inspection staff to proceed with enforcement action.
The executive orders are meant to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Minnesota, Kloss said. The virus can spread easily in situations where people are gathered together eating and drinking, so dine-in service carries health risks for the community.
“We don’t want to lose sight of why we do these things,” Kloss said.
Kloss said the next step for area health officials after a violation of the executive order would be an emergency closure of the business and a summary suspension of its license.
However, McFarquhar said Tuesday she had not heard of any further action by SWHHS.
“I talked to them last week a couple times,” she said. SWHHS knew how to get in contact with her, she said.
Lyon County Sheriff Eric Wallen said Tuesday that the Sheriff’s Office did not get calls to be at Haven’s Garden on Friday night, and so far there have not been any enforcement actions taken by the Sheriff’s Office.
“As far as I know, they haven’t been open since (Friday),” Wallen said.
Wallen said Haven’s Garden, like other Minnesota restaurants and bars, can be open for takeout under the governor’s executive order, but not dining in.
On Tuesday, McFarquhar said “I want to say thank you to all the people who came out to support us,” as well as people who disagreed with her but were respectful.