DELTON, Mich. — Two restaurants in Delton are defying government orders and remaining open for dine-in service. Grove Street Cafe and Bowen's Family Dining resumed service on Wednesday. Both restaurants were closed during the initial three week pause put into place by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
"The choice to open was a choice to keep our business running. The choice to open wasn’t because we want to make more money. It’s because we need to make money to keep our doors open. It wasn’t a choice. It was what we had to do," said Julie Aukerman, Manager at Grove Street Cafe.
Auckerman, whose mother began the business, says they have put into place safety protocols including taking reservations, wearing masks, operating at 50% capacity and keeping a log of customers who dine inside.
"We have protocols above and beyond any box store that allows random customers coming in all day long," said Auckerman. "We are doing more than we need to be doing to keep our facilities safe for not only our employees, but also our customers. We feel that doing these great things that we should be able to have dine-in safely, and we are responsible and controlled with that."
Auckerman and her family chose to remain open alongside nearby restaurant Bowen's Family Dining, which remained busy on Thursday.
"Unfortunately with the pandemic, numbers from October of last year to this year are roughly 25% less. Then with the shutdown, they are another 65% on top of that. So you cannot operate at those margins. It is just physically impossible," said Ric Blesch, manager at Bowen's.
Blesch says he has been educating himself on his constitutional rights and doesn't believe the health department has the authority to shut down the restaurant, despite the agency sending both establishments a cease and desist letter. The hand-delivered letter threatened revoking licenses on both establishments. It did not include any mention of fines or citations.
"In my opinion, the health department is overstepping their bounds to actually give us that seize and desist order because they don’t the right to do that. The michigan supreme court actually ruled against them," said Blesch.
Both restaurants say they will explore any legal avenues so that they can remain open throughout the remainder of the pandemic.