A Michigan restaurant owner defying shutdown orders from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) administration told The Kyle Olson Show this week that she is facing $30,000 in fines and legal fees as a result.
Amy Heikkinen, owner of Cafe Rosetta in Calumet, was recently taken to court by the state after she kept open her business. She said could not survive the ongoing coronavirus lockdown mandates.
“Sales were down 25-30 percent already,” she said, and with only take-out orders allowed, there was another 30 percent decline.
Her margin for profit, she said, was 10 to 15 percent, and “It was either we were going to close down then or close down later, so we decided to take a stand and fight for this.”
Heikkinen said her restaurant has had no cases of the coronavirus, the story of most eating establishments in the state. Yet, the governor has repeatedly targeted them with closure orders. The “three-week pause” announced in November has now stretched into 12 weeks, and was recently extended until at least February 1.
She said the support from the community has been “astounding.”
Residents set up a GiveSendGo account to support Heikkinen, her family, and her employees as the state has taken her to court.
During a recent hearing, an attorney for the state was asked by the judge whether a proposed $7,500 fine was too harsh, and Danielle Allison-Yokom responded the department was not seeking incarceration of owner Amy Heikkinen, the Mining Gazette reported.
“I believe it’s my right to work, it’s my individual responsibility to take care of myself and my family,” she told The Kyle Olson Show.
“How do you put a price on that?”
Heikkinen said Michigan leaders seem “out of touch” with what residents and business owners are facing with closures and job losses.
“People are broke. They want to work, they’re ready to go back to work and they’re being prevented from doing that,” she said.
Erik Kiilunen, a business owner who has been helping to organize pushback to Whitmer’s orders, urged restaurants and bars to “just open up.”
“All business is essential and for a governor to sit over there and throw darts at a wall and decide who she wants to terminate, destroy, or harass is just over the top,” he said.
Heikkinen said she has about $30,000 in fines and legal bills. She has additional court dates in February. The state is fining her restaurant $1,000 a day for being open.
“It’s all growing,” she said.
Kiilunen argued Whitmer’s administration will drag the process out and he is estimating Heikkinen’s penalties and fees may get as high as $130,000.