Army Vet Vows to Keep Fighting After Restaurant is Raided For Violating 2020 COVID Mandates

The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) on Friday raided a popular bar and grill that violated the state’s COVID-19  guidelines early in the pandemic. Matt Strickland, the owner of Gourmeltz in Fredericksburg, is an Army veteran who says it’s important to stand up to tyrannical government edicts, so the next generation doesn’t have to.

“You’re part of the problem, I want you to know that,” Strickland told an ABC officer during the raid. “Every one of you is part of the problem.” The Army vet argued that “just doing my job” is not an excuse for “shutting down a man’s livelihood” over mandates “that didn’t do anything to prevent COVID” and were “detrimental to the community.”

Strickland told the ABC officers that the mandates were also detrimental to the nation’s children. “It set our kids back so many years, it set small businesses back so many years,” he lamented. “It destroyed small businesses, it destroyed families, it destroyed our community,” he added, as the officers stood around, stone-faced and silent.


“What the state of Virginia just did is they took my livelihood away from me right before Christmas,”  Strickland later told Fox 5 DC.

His restaurant’s health and alcohol permits were suspended after he refused to comply with Virginia’s mask mandate, and social distancing guidelines. The unscientific imposition of masks and social distancing on asymptomatic people is now widely believed to have done little to nothing to stop the spread of the disease.

In January of 2021, health officials in Spotsylvania County suspended Strickland’s restaurant’s health permit for failing to comply with COVID-19 rules, but he defied the suspension and stayed open anyway. In September of 2021, he lost his liquor license as well.

In a video posted on YouTube at the time, he told customers that he would not close down his place of business.

“Bottom line is the governor said so – so you have to comply with these mandates,” Strickland said in the video. “I told him politely – I said I’m not in the military anymore, I’m not gonna do something just because you tell me to do it. I’m a civilian now and if you want me to do something it needs to make sense and it needs to not infringe on my constitutional rights and it needs to be lawful.”

Strickland went to court and got his health permit back, but not his alcohol permit. Nonetheless,  Gourmeltz “… continued to serve beer, wine, and mixed beverages to customers,” the ABC charged.

“I knew that the only way we’d come out of this is by the community standing together and fighting back against this tyrannical government, so I continued to sell alcohol,” Strickland explained.

The ABC reportedly promised to “reduce the alcohol license suspension to 15 days upon the payment of a $4,000 penalty and another $6,469.18 to cover the investigation,” but Strickland said no deal.

“I’m not paying any fine. I’m not serving any suspension, and the reason for that is because I did nothing wrong,” said Strickland, who is planning to run for State Senate in 2023.

“I’m not concerned whatsoever,” Strickland replied when asked if he was worried the state could take further action against his business. “I’ve been ready to die for my country since I was 17 years old, and I’m willing to fight as long and as hard as it takes to make sure that this fight that I’m in right now, this fight that we’re all in right now, doesn’t get passed down to the next generation.”

In a series of short videos, Strickland explained why he defied the COVID mandates, and why he is confident that ultimately he will win this fight.  He also urged the American people to stop following “unconstitutional and illegal” mandates because “only then will things change.”

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About Debra Heine

Debra Heine is a conservative Catholic mom of six and longtime political pundit. She has written for several conservative news websites over the years, including Breitbart and PJ Media.