An Anchorage restaurant that faced thousands of dollars in fines for refusing to abide by the citywide shutdown of indoor dining to prevent the spread of the coronavirus has reached a deal with the city.
After Anchorage’s Emergency Order 15, which orders restaurants to close for indoor service for four weeks in response to a rise in COVID-19 cases, Kriner’s Diner refused to close its indoor service. It attracted vocal support from many who felt the Municipality’s rules were unfair and unnecessary.
In a hearing on Tuesday, a judge accepted a deal between municipal attorneys and the owners of Kriner’s Diner. The city asked for over $15,000 in fines against Kriner’s after it defied a court-order to stop indoor dining service. As part of the deal, those fines were waived, so long as Kriner’s continues to abide by Emergency Order 15. The diner still owes $3,300 in other fines, which can be paid to the Food Bank of Alaska as part of the agreement.
The city also asked for sanctions against Kriner’s lawyer Blake Quackenbush alleging professional misconduct after he posted an image of patrons of Kriner’s dining on his Facebook page. The municipality asked for over $1000 to pay for attorneys’ fees.
In response, Quackenbush claimed that he had the right to free speech with his social media account. He also filed a counterclaim alleging that it was municipal attorneys who had violated professional conduct for what he called “gross misrepresentations” of the facts of the case and asked for sanction against them.
“I maintain that it is frankly crazy to have to fight for a right to work and support our families. What ever happened to the days when we were so fortunate that we could complain about work on Mondays?” he wrote in an affidavit filed on Sunday.
Both the municipality’s claims and Quackenbush’s claims were resolved in the agreement.
Judge Eric Aarseth commended the parties for coming to an agreement today in light of the heated community interest in the case.
“It’s a lesson for a lot of people in the community in terms of just to keep talking and listening to both sides,” he said.
The owners of Kriner’s could not be reached for comment for this story.
In a similar case yesterday, Alaska Superior Court Judge William Morse granted a temporary injunction against Little Dipper Diner, which also refused to comply with a stop-work order.
But Little Dipper announced on its Facebook page that it would open for take-out only beginning Wednesday.
While for the moment both restaurants have agreed to abide by the terms of Emergency Order 15, the parties could challenge the constitutionality of that order itself. The office of Blake Quackenbush, which is representing both establishments, declined to comment.
This story has been updated to clarify that the $15,000 in fines against Kriner’s needed approval from the court