Kriner’s Diner backs down after Municipality of Anchorage seeks to increase fines

Customers dined inside at Kriner's Diner on Friday afternoon, Aug. 7, 2020, just a few hours after a state judge ordered the restaurant to shut down dine-in service.
Customers dined inside at Kriner’s Diner on Friday afternoon, Aug. 7, 2020, just a few hours after a state judge ordered the restaurant to shut down dine-in service. (Tegan Hanlon/Alaska Public Media)

Kriner’s Diner says it will stop serving food indoors after attorneys for the Municipality of Anchorage sought to boost daily fines against its owners to up to $15,000 per day. 

Attorneys with the Municipality of Anchorage filed a motion on Saturday for a contempt of court hearing against Kriner’s owners after the diner continued serving meals despite an injunction granted by a state judge. 

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The restaurant was busy on Friday after the judge ordered the restaurant to close its indoor dining and on Saturday. Social media posts showed long lines out the door and few customers wearing masks. 

In a motion filed Saturday, the Municipality called Kriner’s decision to keep serving “blatant defiance” of the court. It also said Kriner’s lawyer Blake Quackenbush “actively encouraging and participating in the ongoing violations,” despite the fact that he wrote to municipality lawyers that he would advise his clients to abide by a stop-work order. 

In asking for the contempt of court hearing, Municipal attorneys pointed to a Facebook post by Quackenbush in which he posted a video from his personal account of a packed Kriner’s Diner. He labeled the video “Americans peacefully protesting in a historic ‘sit-in.’ Breakfast is served.” The post has since been removed. 

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The city ordered all restaurants and bars to shut down indoor dining beginning last Monday. While most restaurants complied, Kriner’s Diner refused and was later issued a stop-work order by the municipality. Then on Friday, a state superior court judge ruled that the restaurant must shut down. 

The judge in the case wrote in his opinion that  “A property interest cannot outweigh a person’s interest in life.”

A message from the Kriner Family to yours! #Alaska #Anchorage #Diner #FamilyOwned

Posted by Kriner's Diner on Sunday, August 9, 2020

The city asked the court to boost the fine against Kriner’s from $600 a day to a daily $5,000 fine for the two owners and the business. It’s also asking for a court-imposed sanction against Quackenbush for violating codes of professional conduct. 

In a Facebook video post on Sunday, Kriner’s Diner co-owner Andy Kriner said the fines were too much for the business, and he would shut down his dine-in service beginning Monday.

“We wish we could be open longer, but, you know, we just can’t afford that much money,” he said. 

He said Kriner’s would be open Monday for take-out only. 

This post has been updated with new information about Kriner’s Diner’s plans