Judge fines UP cafe for continuing to serve indoor diners, says civil disobedience ‘not an option’

Posted at 5:17 PM, Jan 09, 2021

CALUMET, Mich. (AP) — An Upper Peninsula cafe was found in contempt of court and fined $2,500 for continuing to serve indoor diners, the latest turn in an effort to get the owner to comply with coronavirus restrictions.

“When it comes to court orders, in my opinion, civil disobedience is not an option. It just absolutely is not,” Judge Wanda Stokes said.

Stokes held a hearing Friday involving Cafe Rosetta, which serves soup, sandwiches and more in Calumet, a town of roughly 750 in Houghton County.

Since mid-November, Michigan restaurants and bars have been restricted by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration to outdoor service or carry-out orders to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

The cafe’s food permit has been yanked. State regulators then got a Dec. 30 order from Stokes, an Ingham County judge, to shut down the business.

Cafe co-owner Amy Heikkinen said she can’t afford to limit the cafe to carry-out orders. Hundreds of people rallied to support her on Jan. 2.

Stokes suspended the contempt fine until Wednesday to allow the cafe’s attorney, David Kallman, to file legal arguments, The Daily Mining Gazette reported.

Kallman noted that the state health department might not extend the indoor dining ban after Jan. 15.

He said the cafe’s refusal to comply with various orders is “really a survival situation” for Heikkinen.