GAYLORD — The Michigan Liquor Control Commission extended a suspension of the liquor license held by The Iron Pig Smokehouse into 2021.
Administrative Law Judge Mike St. John handed the restaurant a 90-day license suspension effective Dec. 14 — the longest the MLCC has issued so far — with a $600 fine for violating the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Emergency Order to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The judge will allow The Iron Pig to request reconsideration if it ceases indoor dining and requires staff to wear masks within the next 14 days. The order said the goal was not solely to punish the licensee, but instead have it comply with the Nov. 15 Emergency Order.
“We are still open for business,” The Iron Pig posted on Facebook on Tuesday.
The Iron Pig, which had already been fined $5,000 by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said in a comment to that same Facebook post it has a pending hearing for the suspension of its food sales license with heavier fines.
“The Licensee’s slogan, ‘Risk it for the brisket — BBQ with a side of freedom,’ rhymes but downplays the incredibly serious nature of the COVID-19 virus,” St. John said in his ruling. “Unfortunately, a more appropriate slogan might be ‘Brisket to die for.’”
St. John set aside arguments in defense from attorney David Delaney, representing Ian Murphy, who owns The Iron Pig.
Delaney claimed that the court would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the licensee had been properly made aware of the Nov. 15 MDHHS order because the MLCC said The Iron Pig committed an illegal act. St. John wrote in the ruling the MLCC didn’t need that burden of proof because this was not a criminal trial.
“This tribunal has no authority to try the Licensee for any crime but does have the responsibility to determine whether an illegal act occurred on the licensed premises,” St. John wrote. “The standard for making that determination is a preponderance of the evidence.”
Kal-Ho served license suspension
The Kal-Ho Lounge was officially served a summary suspension of its liquor license effective Dec. 11, joining eight others in a state press release.
Representatives for Razorback, LLC are set to appear before an Administrative Law Judge Dec. 18 to determine if the suspension should continue or other fines, penalties should be imposed.
St. John previously lifted the suspension of businesses that shifted operations to takeout and curbside only. The Kal-Ho said in a Facebook post Dec. 11 it would be offering takeout until further notice.
South Boardman restaurant reopens
The Yankee Boy in South Boardman is open to indoor dining, the Record-Eagle confirmed in a phone call. Owner Toni Bohnett said they have been in conversations with the Health Department, but didn’t want to provide further details.
The restaurant employs 21 people, some of which Bohnett said would be forced to seek help paying for propane through the Department of Health and Human Services and live off between $150 and $200 a week in unemployment benefits. Bohnett already had food ordered in the event MDHHS’ three-week pause was rescinded, so she decided to reopen with reduced capacity, mandated masks, and more sanitization stations than they had before.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect a clarification. Toni Bohnet, owner of The Yankee Boy in South Boardman, said some of their 21 workers would have been required to seek assistance from the Department of Health and Human Services to pay for propane while living off $150 to $200 per week in unemployment benefits.