Spotsylvania restaurant Gourmeltz 90’s Music Bar and Drafthouse announced that its health department permit has been restored and a lawsuit against the restaurant has been dropped.
“The commonwealth Attorney General’s office has dismissed the court action against them. This is a victory not only for Matt [Strickland] and his wife Maria and their employees and the entire community that can continue to benefit from having this restaurant open, but it’s a victory for the people of this country generally because it shows that if you are right and if you have the Constitution to back you up, then you can fight the government and fight unreasonable mandates, and you can win,” lawyer former Congressman Bob Barr (R-Georgia-07) said in a video posted by Gourmeltz Wednesday.
The restaurant had its health certification suspended in January after owner Matt Strickland refused to enforce bar closures and mask restrictions. Strickland refused to close after the certification was suspended, and in March, a court denied the Office of the Attorney General’s request for an emergency injunction to force the restaurant to close.
It’s unclear why case was dropped; neither Gourmeltz nor the Attorney General’s office responded to a request for comment. However, in a May 26 letter to Strickland, Rappahanock Area Health Director Dr. Olugbenga Obasanjo said that recent ending of COVID-19 regulations allow the permit to be reinstated.
“Consequently, the reasons for the suspension of the food establishment operation permit for Gourmeltz restaurant will no longer exist as of midnight on May 28, 2021,” Obasanjo wrote.
“I knew one way or the other we were going to win. Losing was not an option,” Strickland said in the video. “I’m not going to allow my Constitutional rights to be stripped from me, and more than that, the community was not going to allow it. So when you have the people behind you, there’s no way you can lose.”
Obasanjo ended the letter with a warning: “It is important you continue to operate your food establishment in compliance with all applicable laws, regulations, and Executive Orders, as applicable, as I may summarily suspend an operation permit […] should I determine that continued operation of a food establishment constitutes a substantial and imminent threat to public health.”
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