Oregon Restaurant to Appeal Fine for Staying Open During Lockdown

January 5, 2021 Updated: January 5, 2021

A family-owned restaurant in Oregon is appealing a fine the state levied against it after it remained open for business contrary to the executive order of Gov. Kate Brown, who has banned dine-in eating.

Casey’s Restaurant in Klamath Falls was fined $8,900 by a state agency, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration, known as Oregon OSHA, which says it received 18 complaints about Casey’s. The restaurant claims to have lost about $30,000 because of restrictions on businesses in spring 2020.

Co-owners Annie Patzke, Patty Barney, Michael Patzke, and Dolores Patzke wrote to OSHA stating the restaurant couldn’t afford to downgrade its business to take-out only.

“We cannot operate our business under the restrictive guidelines of Executive Order 20-65,” they stated in a letter.

“We believe these guidelines are not applied equitably or in a way that allows businesses in our industry to survive. It seems to be under the guise of ‘doing something’ that the state is once again engaged in irreparably harming certain groups while protecting others.”

The owners say they plan to remain open for business despite the current pandemic-related restrictions. Further fines could follow from OSHA.

OSHA has reportedly looked into two complaints against the restaurant. One involved allowing sit-down dining while it was forbidden in a so-called freeze, and the second concerned an alleged failure to enforce the wearing of protective face masks. OSHA wrote up a ticket for the sit-down dining but not regarding the masks.

After inspecting the facility at the end of November and interviewing a co-owner and several employees, OSHA gave the eatery a so-called red-warning notice on Nov. 29, 2020, to cease serving food and drinks on-site during a two-week freeze to slow the spread of the CCP virus that causes the disease COVID-19, local newspaper The Herald and News reported.

The governor, a Democrat, has threatened to shut businesses that fail to comply with her pandemic-mitigation orders. Red-warning notices are issued under the Oregon Safe Employment Act and apply until “the condition has been made safe and healthful.” They are given to businesses said to be deliberately violating the governor’s executive orders or who decline to take required corrective measures. Such businesses are closed until the supposedly hazardous condition is alleviated.

Many small-business owners in the state are vowing to remain open, claiming they have been treated unfairly, while large businesses are allowed to continue operating.

The owners are represented by the Freedom Foundation. Formerly known as the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, the Freedom Foundation describes itself as a “non-profit think and action tank with offices in Washington, Oregon, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California.”

Jason Dudash, Oregon director for the Freedom Foundation, said in a statement that they “agree that steps need to be taken to take COVID seriously and protect the most vulnerable in our communities. The Patzke family at Casey’s has and is taking those steps while remaining open.”

The Patzke family has owned Casey’s Restaurant in Klamath for 31 years, according to the Freedom Foundation.

The Patzkes realized they couldn’t afford to shut down a second time, so they said they have stayed open.

“We still have to pay taxes while the bureaucrats, they never miss a paycheck and they don’t have to worry about their jobs,” said Mike Patzke.

“OSHA has fined us, and they’re going to fine us even more. And we’re going to stay open,” said Annie Patzke.

“We have some of our family that we lost in World War II, and they were fighting for freedom, so I feel like we should fight for freedom, also.”

Brown’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.