HOLLAND, Mich. — Marlena's Bistro and Pizzeria finally opened its doors back up to customers Tuesday morning after being closed for almost exactly six months. The restaurant's owner, Marlena Pavlos-Hackney, was arrested back in March after the Attorney General's office said she refused to comply with local COVID-19 health mandates, such as requiring customers to socially distance and wear face masks.
At 5:30 a.m. Tuesday Pavlos-Hackney opened the restaurant back up and welcomed a crowd of hungry customers inside.
"I was in here at 5:30, and it has been non-stop, people have been rolling in and out," said Jon Rocha, who is a Republican candidate for Michigan's 6th congressional district, and had been a long-time supporter of Marlena.
Pavlos-Hackney is a Polish immigrant who became a US citizen in 1992. Despite spending 4 days behind bars in the Ingham County Jail, she holds firm to her beliefs.
“I don't regret it. If I have to do it again, I will do so,” she told FOX 17 Tuesday afternoon.
"I know we have to protect and be responsible, but we don't do nothing wrong. We like to work, and be able to make a living, and produce goods, and serve the community, engage with others.”
On Tuesday, her customers were there not just for plates full of eggs and bacon, but also to show their support for Pavlos-Hackney and the choices she has made.
“You know, coming from communism, Poland, and coming here and seeing it, and fighting it the entire way... She didn't buckle, she didn't collapse, she stood strong,” Rocha said.
Julie and her son Yonatan also came to enjoy a big breakfast Tuesday morning, saying, "we wanted to support Marlena because she has supported this community for a long time, and she has stood for her values, and she loves Jesus, and we love Jesus.”
Pavlos-Hackney's arrest on March 19 was for a contempt charge, issued after Attorney General Dana Nessel says she repeatedly defied local health orders— saying she was first contacted by local health officials in November of 2020 regarding reports that she was allowing customers to dine indoors while not permitted to do so.
Ingham County Judge Wanda Stokes issued a bench warrant for Pavlos-Hackney on March 5 after the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) told the court that her restaurant was still operating.
After two fines totaling $15,000 were paid by Pavlos-Hackney's husband to the court, her attorney Robert Baker was able to arrange for her release.
Following her release, her legal team had been working to get the restaurant back open.
Aspects of her case remain in the court system. Her team has taken the case to the Michigan Court of Appeals, trying to get more complete transcripts of Pavlos-Hackney's March 19 court arraignment. They believe some of her civil rights were violated during the hearing.
Once they get a decision from the state's Court of Appeals, her lawyer, Robert Baker,
The case against Marlena's Bistro and Pizzeria
March 19, 2021 — Marlena is Arrested
March 20, 2021 — Restaurant is Closed After Arrest
March 20, 2021 — Supporters Gather in Front of Restaurant
March 20, 2021 — Attorney Baker Speaks After Arrest
March 22, 2021 — MI GOP Holds Press Conference at Restaurant
March 22, 2021 — Motion Filed to Have Marlena Released from Jail
March 23, 2021 — Marlena Released from Jail
March 26, 2021 — Lawmakers Say Marlena Unfairly Targeted
April 14, 2021 — Documents Filed to Dismiss Case
April 27, 2021 — Court transcript discrepancies alleged
August 8, 2021 — Working to Reopen Restaurant
September 8, 2021 — Marlena's Bistro Sets Reopening Date