More Restaurants Sue Governor As Industry Warns Pritzker About State’s Reopening Plan

ILLINOIS — Poopy’s Pub and Grub is the latest addition to the growing list of businesses and organization’s challenging Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home orders in court.

Other restaurateurs across the state say the governor’s five-phase reopening plan will lead to permanent closures.

Attorney Thomas DeVore said he has more than a hundred businesses coming to him wanting to assert their rights to operate. He said Poopy’s Pub & Grub in Carroll County, with a suit filed Monday, was following the curbside mandates.

“People would get their carryout and they would go onto a completely separate piece of property that’s contiguous to the premises and they had picnic tables scattered ten to 15 feet apart,” DeVore said.

He said the state then came and threatened to pull his liquor license. He encourages the state to follow the due process procedures to try and shut down individual businesses instead of unilateral threats.

“If they want to take on an order of closure on behalf of one of my clients, come on,” DeVore said. “The court process is in the paperwork. I encourage that so that we can get in front of a court.”

DeVore said none of his clients have had local boards of public health issue individual closure orders. He contends state law requires such court action within 48 hours to give business owners proper due process.

DeVore also represents Dookie’s Pub & Grub, which filed a suit Monday against Pritzker in Clinton County Circuit Court.

“Dookie is asking this Court to find Pritzker did not have constitutional or statutory authority to forcibly close the business,” the suit said.

Pritzker has downplayed several other lawsuits filed against his orders. He has said anyone can sue and he’s confident his orders will stand up in court.

Rhienna McClain, the owner of 1776, a farm-to-table restaurant in Crystal Lake, said the phase-in plan isn’t workable.

“It could go on indefinitely,” she said. “We’re dead either way. We’re dead if we don’t open. We’re dead if we do.”

McClain, who’s also on the McHenry County Board of Public Health, said restaurants are among the most regulated industries and they know how to keep people healthy. She said officials in McHenry County are set to talk about local control.

“All 26 mayors in our community have signed a memorandum that we are going to go after the state of Illinois and we are going to pursue opening up in different phases whether they like it or not,” McClain said.

State Rep. Mike Murphy, R-Springfield, who ran a restaurant in Springfield for years before becoming a lawmaker, said the governor’s plan could mean restaurants that got federal assistance can’t open until sometime in June, if not later.

“So they’re going to have to lay off all their workers again who’ve they’ve rehired and they’ve started some curbside to a small percentage of their business,” Murphy said.

Murphy said lawmakers need to come back to deal with the issue.

The Center Square – Greg Bishop

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