Michigan Restaurant Owner Faces $30,000 in Fines, Legal Fees During Whitmer Lockdown

A Michigan restaurant owner defying shutdown orders from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) told The Kyle Olson Show this week that she is facing $30,000 in fines and legal fees” Breitbart reports. 

Amy Heikken, the owner of Café Rosetta in Calumet, was recently taken to court for keeping her cafe open for indoor dining against state orders. The single mother said she could not survive the ongoing coronavirus lockdown mandates.

“Sales were down 25-30 percent already,” she said, and with only take-out orders allowed, there was another 30 percent decline.

With a margin for profit at only 10 to 15 percent, Heikken said “It was either we were going to close down then or close down later, so we decided to take a stand and fight for this.”

Heikkinen noted her restaurant has had no cases of the coronavirus, the story of most eating establishments in the state. Yet, Whitmer has repeatedly targeted them with closure orders. The “three-week pause” announced in November has now stretched into 12 weeks, and was recently extended until at least February 1, according to Breitbart.

Heikkinen whose small business employs 30 people said the support from the community has been “astounding.” Locals have been visiting the cafe every day.

Residents in the small township set up a GiveSendGo account to support Heikkinen, her family, and her employees as the state has taken her to court.

During a recent hearing conducted in Ingham County Circuit Court, an attorney for the state was asked by the judge whether a proposed $7,500 fine was too harsh, Allison-Yokom responded the department is not seeking incarceration of the owners, but the department feels strongly that some action must be taken in order to convince the café that it needs to comply with the order,  the Mining Gazette reported.

“I believe it’s my right to work, it’s my individual responsibility to take care of myself and my family,” she told The Kyle Olson Show. “How do you put a price on that?”

Heikkinen said Michigan leaders seem “out of touch” with what residents and business owners are facing with closures and job losses.

“People are broke. They want to work, they’re ready to go back to work and they’re being prevented from doing that,” she said.

Erik Kiilunen, a business owner who has been helping to organize pushback to Whitmer’s orders, with his “All Business is Essential” campaign urged restaurants and bars to “just open up,” Breitbart reported.

“All business is essential and for a governor to sit over there and throw darts at a wall and decide who she wants to terminate, destroy, or harass is just over the top,” he said.

Heikkinen said she has about $30,000 in fines and legal bills. She has additional court dates in February. The state is fining her restaurant $1,000 a day for being open.

“It’s all growing,” she said.

Kiilunen argued Whitmer’s administration will drag the process out and he is estimating Heikkinen’s penalties and fees may get as high as $130,000. However Kiilunen told Fox Business in December that if Heikken has to take her case to the Supreme Court, she will.

About Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith is a newcomer to Washington D.C. She met and married an American journalist and moved to D.C. from the U.K. She graduated with a B.A. in Graphics, Media, and Communications and worked in design and retail in the U.K.

Photo: (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

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