Minnesota AG sues Albany bar owner planning to reopen unlawfully Monday

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has filed a lawsuit to prevent a chain of bars and restaurants from opening unlawfully Monday after the business’ owner announced his intention to do so.

The lawsuit was filed against Shady’s restaurants, owned by Kris Schiffler, after Schiffler announced his intention to reopen the six bars and restaurants he owns in Albany, Burtum, Cold Spring, New Munich, Rice and St. Martin Monday against the Governor’s Stay Safe MN executive order.

Schiffler told FOX 9 last week that he was taking matters into his own hands because he was running out of options as a small business owner in a small town. He said he is putting safety precautions in place and consulted with law enforcement and local leaders about reopening his businesses. 

"We’re not trying to be criminals or break the law," he said. "We’re trying to do this in the most orderly fashion possible. We really, really are."

On a Monday morning conference call with reporters, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said when people “blatantly” say they’re not going to follow the state's mandatory closures, “you have to follow through on those.”

Ellison says Schiffler’s restaurants are all near a COVID-19 hotspot in Stearns County, which has the second-highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state.

The Attorney General’s Office contacted Schiffler on May 15 informing him that if he violates the governor’s order, he could face a $25,000 fine per location for every day his businesses are open.  

“A handful of bar and restaurant owners have said they don’t want to wait any longer and want to reopen illegally,” said Ellison in the release. “Over the past several days, my office has reached out to them to try to educate them on their rights and responsibilities under the law and the risks to Minnesotans’ health of reopening illegally. In almost all cases, owners have agreed to comply with the law. I thank them for complying.”

Ellison said the bar has raised more than $170,000 through a GoFundMe fundraiser and announced its intention to open at noon Monday.

Shady's did not immediately respond to FOX 9's request for comment.