The owner of the Neighbors Eatery and Saloon in Albertville is now facing a citation from the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office after choosing to open the Princeton location of the chain – Neighbors on the Rum – on Wednesday, Dec. 16, two days prior to the expiration of Gov. Tim Walz’s Executive Order requiring restaurants to be closed to in-person dining.
Walz extended that order Wednesday, even as the Princeton location remained open, serving lunch and seating customers within the 5th Street location. Walz did attempt to throw some relief, opening outdoor dining, even as December temperatures settle in on the state.
All three locations are owned by Hotz and Holtz, LLC. Joe Holtz, who started with the Albertville location back in 2011, said aid approved by the Minnesota Legislature earlier this week is just “breadcrumbs” and that he needs to open to provide wages for his workers at all three locations.
Walz has repeatedly targeted restaurants and bars with restrictions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, seeing them as a spot for major spread events. While tracing shows only about 2 percent of the state’s more than nearly 400,000 cases can be definitively tied to bars and restaurants, Walz and Minnesota Department of Health czar Jan Malcom pointed to those 8,000 cases as just a beginning, and that those who were frequent establishments were bringing the illness into homes.
“The simple fact is, community spread is twice as high as we need it to be to consider some of the things Minnesotans want to do right now. We’ve asked for sacrifice, and people have continued to do that. We need to do it for a little longer,” Walz said Wednesday.
“Minnesota Department of Health workers noted the Neighbors on the Rum was not only allowing on-premises dining, but also seating people closer than six feet apart, further increasing the chance of COVID-19 community spread,” the AG’s report states.
Holtz closed all three locations to in-person dining on Thursday, but a note on social media states he’s looking at opening his Albertville location to diners Monday, Dec. 20. He has also joined ReOpen Minnesota, a group of more than 200 restaurants and bars looking to push the Governor into re-opening establishments to the public.
For now, however, they remained closed to indoor dining and drinking until Jan. 11, 2021. That’s another four weeks of shutdown that Hotz told media outlets he can’t afford.
“I can’t pay my bills on to-go orders,” he told Minnesota media outlets on Wednesday.