HOLLAND, Mich. — The restaurant owner who was jailed for refusing to comply with local health orders, like masking and social distancing, is finally set to reopen her business after months of it being closed to the public.
Marlena Pavlos-Hackney tells FOX 17 that she will reopen her restaurant, Marlena's Bistro & Pizzeria on Lincoln Ave, on Tuesday, September 21.
She is currently in the process of hiring back much of her crew, making any necessary additional hires and restocking ahead of her reopening.
"I do understand we have this virus, and everyone's gotta protect themselves... every individual, you know, you control your body and mind, you're responsible for your health," Pavlos-Hackney told FOX 17 Wednesday afternoon. "So, I don't criticize if someone wears a mask or takes the vaccine, but at the same time, we the people, we have the right to choose what is good for everyone, as an individual."
Pavlos-Hackney was arrested back on March 19 on a contempt charge, issued after Attorney General Dana Nessel says she repeatedly defied local health orders— saying she was first contacted by local health officials in November of 2020 regarding reports that she was allowing customers to dine indoors while not permitted to do so.
Ingham County Judge Wanda Stokes issued a bench warrant for Marlena on March 5 after the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) told the court that her restaurant was still operating.
After two fines totaling $15,000 were paid by Marlena's husband to the court, her attorney Robert Baker was able to arrange for her release.
Following her release, her legal team has been working to get the restaurant back open.
“We lost about three weeks, because I was trying to get Marlena open almost a month ago, and we were negotiating with the attorney general's office,” her attorney, Robert Baker, told FOX 17 Wednesday.
They have recently been going back and forth with the AG's office to reach an agreement as to when and how Pavlos-Hackney can reopen to the public. After another appearance in court, the judge overseeing her case gave them the go-ahead.
Through the whole ordeal, the Polish immigrant who became a US citizen in 1992 has in some ways become a symbol of so-called government overreach during the pandemic. She has appeared on national media outlets, like Tucker Carlson's FOX News show, and spoken at events across the country in recent months.
“And she's getting standing ovations wherever she goes... I suspect all of her loyal patrons are going to be back in droves,” Baker said.
“She's been definitely an inspiration to me, because she pushed all her chips on red and risked it all, to stand on her principles.”
Aspects of her case remain in the court system. Her team has taken the case to the Michigan Court of Appeals, trying to get more complete transcripts of Pavlos-Hackney's March 19 court arraignment. They believe some of her civil rights were violated during the hearing.
“So, that's pending in front of the appellate court, and we want to preserve that. And then once that's determined and we have a good record of what happened at the March 19 hearing... we're likely going to file a federal, it's called, a [Section] 1983 action regarding civil rights violation,” Baker explained.
For Marlena, throughout everything that has transpired, she just wants to return her focus to where it had been for years— her restaurant.
The case against Marlena's Bistro and Pizzeria
March 19, 2021 — Marlena is Arrested
March 20, 2021 — Restaurant is Closed After Arrest
March 20, 2021 — Supporters Gather in Front of Restaurant
March 20, 2021 — Attorney Baker Speaks After Arrest
March 22, 2021 — MI GOP Holds Press Conference at Restaurant
March 22, 2021 — Motion Filed to Have Marlena Released from Jail
March 23, 2021 — Marlena Released from Jail
March 26, 2021 — Lawmakers Say Marlena Unfairly Targeted
April 14, 2021 — Documents Filed to Dismiss Case
April 27, 2021 — Court transcript discrepancies alleged
August 8, 2021 — Working to Reopen Restaurant