Chilly's Bar owners have change of heart under threat of penalties

Published: May. 28, 2020 at 6:29 PM EDT
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(5/28/2020) - The marquee outside Chilly's Bar on Davison Road in Flint reads "RIP Summer."

The business has been closed for months due to the Governor's 'Stay home, stay safe' order and fears it may never open again.

“We either are going to have a society of law and order where people follow the rules, or we're going to have anarchy,” Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said.

He explained the Governor's Executive Orders are law and have to be enforced.

But, the owners of Chilly's Bar were willing to take the risk. They posted one week ago on Facebook that they would open Thursday, May 28th at 10 a.m. and face the consequences.

They had the support of many in their community.

But it appears, after considering the long term risk to their business, the owners changed their minds.

They shared a message on Facebook, saying in "...speaking with local and county officials we have had to make this decision to remain closed until further notice. We needed to open to try and save our business but sadly our license will be REVOKED along with fines and penalties and we just can not afford to pay fines let alone hire a attorney."

“You can be charged criminally with violating the EO, committing a misdemeanor, go to jail for 90 days and pay up to a $500 fine. In addition, you could be fined up to $1,000 under the DHHS administrative law violation,” Leyton explained.

And, he said that's not a one time payment. The owners would have to pay $1,500 every day they're operating in violation of the order. Right now, that would be 15 days with the order expiring June 12th. They’d be facing a total of $22,500 in just fines.

“I would think that the monetary consequence is really greater than the loss of liberty, nobody's looking to put anybody in jail over this,” Leyton explained.

He said more than 100 times in the last few months, police in Genesee County have had to clarify the order with businesses. He explained they let them know they can't operate until the order is lifted.

“We've had excellent communication with the public,” he said. “And, I anticipate it will continue. We only have a few more weeks of this. I think we can all get through it if we work together.”

ABC12 was unable to reach the owners, Tim and Paula Stanek, for a comment before air.

The couple did reach out after watching the newscast. They shared this statement:

"We have reached out to the Mayor and Liquor Control Enforcement division, Tim and I completely understand they too have a job to do and if we were to decide to open, At this point is when ALL of our local and government officials would have no choice but to take action. Which could then result in our license being revoked. Which would ultimately completely destroy us more so than us remaining closed. We feel it's in our best interest to follow the Executive Order as much as we disagree. All of hands are tied. As unfortunate as this may be Tim and I truly have no other option. We don't have a legal team at our disposal.

To be very clear our deciding to open was in NO WAY to be defiante it truly was to just survive. Our staff, Customers and community are like family to us and we would never EVER want to put them or anyone else in harm's way.

We would like to thank everyone that has reached out and been willing to support us. You will never understand how much that means to us."