Holland restaurant owner arrested for violating Michigan health orders, state says

Owner of Marlena’s Bistro and Pizzeria in Holland reportedly operated business after license was suspended

HOLLAND, Mich. – A Michigan restaurant owner has been arrested Friday for allegedly violating the state’s public health orders, in addition to a court-ordered temporary restraining order, amid the coronavirus pandemic, officials report.

The office of Michigan Attorney Dana Nessel announced that Marlena Pavlos-Hackney, the owner of Marlena’s Bistro and Pizzeria in Holland, was arrested without incident following a traffic stop on Friday morning in Ottawa County. Officials say Pavlos-Hackney was taken into Michigan State Police custody on an outstanding Ingham County civil warrant for contempt of court, which was issued due to her alleged failure to comply in a civil case filed by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The Holland restaurant owner is accused of operating her business without a license, since MDARD suspended Pavlos-Hackney’s food establishment license on Jan. 20, officials said. Operating without a license violates the Michigan Food Law.

Court proceedings were held in early February to determine if Pavlos-Hackney’s suspension was appropriate, which a judge agreed it was, officials said. An administrative law judge ordered on Feb. 11 that the Holland restaurant owner’s license suspension continues.

“This owner has continued to willfully violate the state’s food laws, public health orders and the order of the court -- a dangerous act that may have exposed dozens of diners and employees to the virus following the discovery that one of Marlena’s customers tested positive for the virus within two days of eating there,” Nessel said. “MDARD is particularly concerned because the potential exposure happened at a restaurant that refuses to comply with basic COVID-19 measures required by the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services.”

Officials say Michigan State Police notified Pavlos-Hackney on March 11 that a warrant had been issued for her arrest, advising her to turn herself in by March 18 -- which she did not do.

On March 4, Allegan County -- the Michigan county directly south of the city of Holland -- notified the public Marlena’s Bistro and Pizzeria was a potential COVID-19 exposure site, after a customer who ate there on Feb. 27 developed virus symptoms soon after. According to the Allegan County Health Department, the restaurant failed to practice COVID mitigation strategies such as mask use and social distancing.

Pavlos-Hackney is currently being lodged at the Ingham County Jail pending court proceedings.

Earlier this month, state officials loosened restrictions for Michigan restaurants and bars after indoor dining services were prohibited for months to help slow coronavirus spread. Starting March 5, Michigan restaurants were allowed to fill up to 50 percent capacity with a maximum of 100 people, instead of the initial 25 percent capacity limit established in February.

The indoor dining curfew for bars and restaurants in the state have also been pushed back from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Michigan’s updated coronavirus restrictions are expected to be in place at least through April 19.

Throughout the pandemic, more than 40 Michigan establishments have had liquor licenses suspended due to their alleged failure to comply with the state’s health orders.

Related: White House COVID-19 Response Team urges caution as states loosen restrictions

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