Shady's bar owner backs down from plans to reopen against Minnesota governor's executive orders

A bar owner in Stearns County is backing down from his plans to reopen the six establishments he owns in the area against the governor’s Stay Safe MN executive order

Kris Schiffler, had planned to open his chain of Shady’s bars and restaurants at noon on Monday. Instead, he told a large crowd gathered outside Shady’s Hometown Tavern in Albany he cannot open at noon as planned, saying his lawyers have told him not to contest Attorney General Keith Ellison’s demands.

"The risk isn’t worth the reward at the end of the day," Schiffler told FOX 9.  

On Monday, a Stearns County judge issued the temporary restraining order sought by Ellison, blocking Schiffler from opening his businesses. 

Ellison has filed a lawsuit against Schiffler to prevent the bars and restaurants from opening unlawfully, as bars and restaurants are to remain closed under Gov. Tim Walz’s executive orders. Schiffler faces a $25,000 fine per location per day if he violates the order. 

Schiffler had informed the Attorney General’s Office of his intention to open his businesses on Monday. A GoFundMe account has already raised more than $170,000 to cover his legal fees. 

"This isn’t over for us. We’re fighting for the small businesses," Schiffler said. "This isn’t about Shady’s anymore, it’s about everybody. It’s about all these people, everybody that’s ready.” 

On a Monday morning conference call with reporters, Walz defended his executive orders as "lawful" and said most other states have taken similar steps. 

"Our hope is most people follow them out of the social need to help one another but when people blatantly say they’re not going to follow the law – whether it’s a traffic violation or a public safety issue – you have to follow through with those," Walz said.

The Republican leader of the Minnesota Senate, Paul Gazelka, said Ellison needed to be "very, very careful" in suing business owners. Gazelka has been calling on Walz to let bars and restaurants reopen.

"I think that the attorney general needs to be very judicious in the use of his power here, because if businesses are opening, it’s because they are desperate," said Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake. "If they’re opening up now, it’s because they’re taking a risk, because if they don’t open up, they’re dead."