MDH files lawsuit against Alibi Drinkery in Lakeville for operating without a license

The Minnesota Department of Health filed a lawsuit Friday against a Lakeville bar for operating as a food and beverage service without a license. The lawsuit comes weeks after the bar opened to diners despite COVID-19 restrictions.

Last month, MDH notified Alibi Drinkery that its license to operate as a food and beverage service establishment would be suspended after 20 days. The license to operate as a food and beverage service establishment expired on Dec. 31, 2020, but Alibi Drinkery continues to operate as a food and beverage establishment without a license, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 157.16.

"We do not take enforcement actions lightly," Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff said in a release. "Even when there is no pandemic, the public depends upon the licensing of bars and restaurants as a basic public health measure – which is why the legislature requires that bars and restaurants have an active license in order to serve the public."

In December, MDH, the Department of Public Safety, and the Attorney General’s office took action against Alibi Drinkery after the bar allowed indoor dining despite state restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. The bar received a cease-and-desist order, operating license suspension notice, liquor license suspension notice, and an additional ongoing lawsuit.

Since then, MDH staff found in follow-up inspections that the establishment continued to operate in violation of these notices and regulatory actions.

"The vast majority of businesses are doing their best to help slow down the spread of COVID-19," said Huff. "Establishments who operated in defiance do not get a free pass. Thousands of other bars and restaurants made sacrifices for the protection of our public health, and we are grateful for their cooperation and selflessness."

Governor Tim Walz issued Executive Order 20-99 on Nov. 18, which prohibited bars and restaurants from offering on-premises dining during the pandemic. Some restrictions on dining and other activities were eased earlier this month as the spread of COVID-19 has slowed.