MI Restaurant Association Files Suit Against MDHHS Director for Dine-In Closure

With thousands of Michigan bars and restaurants facing another minimally three-week closure beginning tomorrow, the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA), along with plaintiffs Heirloom Hospitality Group LLC and H.I.H. Inc. doing business as Suburban Inns, has filed a lawsuit against Robert Gordon in his official capacity as MDHHS Director seeking an emergency preliminary injunction to resume on-premise indoor food and beverage consumption.

Here is a statement from MRLA President & CEO Justin Winslow:

“The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association has filed in federal court for injunctive relief from the Order issued on November 15 by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which prohibited indoor dining in restaurants for the second time this year. We have taken this action only after careful deliberation and as the last available option to prevent the outright devastation of restaurant operators and their hundreds of thousands of employees across the state.

We want to be clear that we made several good faith efforts in advance of the public release of the Order issued November 15th to reach a compromise with the MDHHS that would have supported the goal of minimizing risk while still allowing for the continued operation of dining rooms.

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The MRLA committed to substantially increased restrictions on our industry, including reducing capacity in restaurants to 25-percent and implementing a 10 pm curfew for the duration of the order. While our proposal would undeniably challenge an already beleaguered industry, it was presented to Director Gordon and the Executive Office of the Governor in earnest to stave off the far worse impact of outright closure.

We are hopeful for a swift and decisive victory in court so restaurant operators may return to what we know they do best – adding value to our lives and our economy by providing a great meal and exceptional hospitality in a safe, socially distanced, sanitized and regulated environment.

Important Facts to Consider:

  • The COVID-19 Outbreak Investigation data tracked by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) attributes approximately 4.3-percent of all outbreaks to restaurants statewide.
  • Despite serving millions of Michiganders each day, there are a total of (8) investigations statewide involving a restaurant patron.
  • MRLA survey data suggests more than 40-percent of restaurants will close, at least temporarily, if dining rooms are closed.
  • Approximately 250,000 employees are likely to be laid off from restaurants over the holiday season. With no federal funds and an exhausted Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, it is unclear where the revenue will derive to finance the influx of claims.
  • If the closure is prolonged and federal stimulus dollars are not made immediately available, upwards of 6,000 more restaurants will permanently close by spring. For the record, approximately 2,000 restaurants have already closed their doors permanently in Michigan in 2020.
  • Closing the restaurant industry will again wreak havoc on the supply chain, which will have an outsized impact on Michigan’s broader economy and possibly imperil basic supplies from reaching Michiganders.”

Stay tuned.

To see a copy of the suit, click this link: 2020-11-17-MRLA-Verified-Complaint