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East Grand Forks diner fed up with MN COVID rules, looking to move to ND

Joe's diner EGF
Joe's diner EGF(KVLY)
Published: Jan. 22, 2021 at 6:09 PM CST
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EAST GRAND FORKS, M.N. (Valley News Live) - An East Grand Forks restaurant owner says he’s had enough with the state of Minnesota’s antics and ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions. He says he’s now looking to move his business to the North Dakota side of the river.

“I’m done with Minnesota. I’m not dealing with it. It’s almost like they are an abusive parent. I’m not doing anything wrong and they’re still coming after me,” Joe Bushaw, owner of Joe’s Diner said.

Open, then closed. Open and now closed again— That’s been the unfortunate reality for Joe’s Diner the last five weeks.

“I have employees who need to work and I have bills to pay and it just doesn’t work when they’re trying to close me down,” Bushaw said.

Despite being served a Cease and Desist on Dec. 26, threatening lawsuits and license suspension, Bushaw says when the Department of Health and the Attorney General’s Office realized he had already complied with their requests to stop dine-in services, their looming punishments were dropped.

“I can’t just be always stepping on eggshells and waiting for them to make their next move,” Bushaw said.

Bushaw opened back up for dine-in eating on Jan. 12, after Governor Tim Walz eased back restrictions. However, a new letter has now been served to the diner’s front door.

“It said your license has been revoked and posed a $10,000 fine,” he said.

The letter stated Bushaw had been suspended starting Jan. 16, but Bushaw says he wasn’t served the documents until Jan. 21.

“When I was on the phone with the Minnesota Department of Health, they said one of their employees came in and ate; Which if I didn’t have a license why did they come in and eat? Not just that, but what didn’t they tell me that I didn’t have a license?” Bushaw said. “So, I was supposedly running for five days without a license, but I didn’t know about it.”

Defeated, Bushaw says this is the last straw and is moving his business out of Minnesota. Bushaw says he’s already received multiple leasing possibilities for the diner’s new home, and he says once he secures a building on the North Dakota side, the transition will be immediate.

Commenting on Joe’s Diner’s Facebook post with the moving announcement, Grand Forks Mayor Brandon Bochenski wrote:

“We’d be lucky to have you. Let me know any way I can help.”

Bushaw says the Grand Forks County Health Department had a similar response.

“I asked them if I was even able to get a license since my one now is suspended, and they said, ‘Yep! We’d love to have you,’” he said.

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