Defiant Michigan UP cafe owner told to shut down after serving indoor diners

(Richard Bord, 2020 Richard Bord)

CALUMET, Mich. – A judge has ordered the shutdown of a cafe in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where customers have been supporting an owner who has defiantly served indoor diners despite coronavirus restrictions.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's administration got a restraining order against Cafe Rosetta in Calumet, a small town in Houghton County.

Since November, bars and restaurants in Michigan have been limited to carry-out service or outdoor dining in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

Kristi Painter, a state food scientist, visited the cafe for an undercover exam and observed a busy place with 17 people eating or drinking. She ordered a cup of bean soup and a half turkey sandwich.

"I did not observe any signs encouraging mask use. ... I observed a tip-jar like container that was labeled ‘Legal Fund-join our fight to stand up for your rights,’” Painter said in a court filing.

Cafe co-owner Amy Heikkinen, a mother of six, said she can't afford to limit her business to carry-out orders. She said sales are up because of her dispute with authorities.

“It’s my right to earn an income to protect and feed my family,” she said. “That’s the right of every American. You can’t make me not work.”

The restraining order was to be served by Thursday. The agriculture department filed the case in Ingham County, the seat of state government, bypassing a judge in the cafe’s home county.