Attorney’s office investigating Dry Ridge restaurant that refuses to stop indoor dining

“At least I’m going to die with my boots on,” the owner said.
Updated: Nov. 24, 2020 at 8:12 PM EST
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GRANT COUNTY, Ky. (FOX19) - The Northern Kentucky Health District has handed over a dispute involving a Dry Ridge restaurant to Grant County Attorney Stephen Bates, who confirms an investigation is underway.

The matter originated Nov. 20, when a statewide order halting indoor dining at Kentucky restaurants took effect. The order lasts three weeks and is intended to slow COVID-19, whose growth Gov. Andy Beshear likened Tuesday to a runaway train.

Beans and Bakery Cafe refused to comply.

>> 2,690 new cases, 17 new deaths reported Tuesday in Kentucky

Northern Kentucky Health District Director of Health Lynne Saddler explained what happens next:

“For establishments that the health department regulates, such as restaurants, an inspector performs an on-site investigation to determine if a violation exists. For establishments found to be in violation of the executive order, the operator is advised of the executive order requirements and requested to comply.

“If the establishment refuses to comply, a copy of the executive order is provided to the operator, along with a notice to cease operation per the governor’s order. At this point, continued operation in violation of the order would result in their food service permit being suspended by the health department.”

The district suspended the restaurant’s food license and directed it to cease operations Monday, according to owner Richard Hayhoe.

Again the restaurant refused to comply. It continues serving patrons indoors as of Tuesday, effectively thumbing its nose at the health district, the governor and a recent state supreme court ruling in which the restaurant itself was a plaintiff.

Beans and Bakery was one of several Northern Kentucky businesses to sue Beshear and the health district over the summer, claiming the governor’s statewide pandemic orders were illegitimate. The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled against the restaurant and its fellow plaintiffs Nov. 12.

But Hayhoe doesn’t seem to care.

“You’re going to kill my business if you keep going,” he told FOX19 NOW Tuesday. “So take my permit and shut me down with all the other people and just send us home. At least I’m going to die with my boots on.”

Hayhoe claims he will fight the food permit suspension in court. The viability of such a suit is uncertain at best considering the supreme court’s explicit rejection of Hayhoe’s arguments two weeks prior.

“You don’t get the choice to ignore it,” Beshear said of the supreme court ruling when asked about the restaurant Tuesday.

The governor added staying open to indoor dining right now “is a violation of the rule of law.”

He continued: “Our society can’t move forward with people who openly violate the rule of law just because they don’t like it.”

Beshear also said the permits Beans and Bakery loses might not automatically be returned to them after the order’s expiration Dec. 13.

He did not mention possible actions against the restaurant other than the permit suspension.

Now the matter is with the Grant County Attorney’s Office, per the same protocol Saddler explained above.

“Continued operation with a suspended food service permit and in violation of the Executive Order would lead to the matter being turned over to the county attorney’s office,” she said.

Bates says he cannot comment on an ongoing investigation.

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