Holland restaurant shut down for COVID-19 rule violations to reopen after five months

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

A West Michigan restaurant shuttered for five months after refusing to comply with state COVID-19 regulations will reopen this month. 

Ingham County Circuit Judge Wanda Stokes signed an order this week allowing the restaurant to reopen about a month after Marlena's Bistro and Pizzeria regained its food license, said Robert Baker, the lawyer for owner Marlena Pavlos-Hackney. 

Pavlos-Hackney posted on social media Thursday night that she planned to reopen Sept. 21. The open date will allow Pavlos-Hackney time to order food and rehire and train employees for the restaurant, Baker said. 

"There is still a legal battle ahead, as we have filed an appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals," Pavlos-Hackney said. "This is far from being over!"

Holly Shashaguay of Fennville tapes "closed" signs on the windows of Marlena's Bistro and Pizzeria in Holland, March 19, 2021.

The appeal currently pending seeks an order finding that Pavlos-Hackney's due process rights were violated March 19 when she was arrested and jailed for operating her restaurant after having her food license revoked by the state. The appeal also seeks an "accurate" transcript of the raucous March 19 hearing in front of Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, Baker said. 

Once she has that transcript, Pavlos-Hackney plans to sue the state in federal court for violating her constitutional rights, Baker said. 

Pavlos-Hackney spent four nights in jail in March following the hearing with Aquilina, who said the restaurant owner had "selfishly not followed the orders."

"You’ve not followed them for your own financial gain and apparently for the publicity that comes with it," Aquilina said.

The restaurant's state license was revoked in February because the business was not requiring masks, social distancing or capacity limits consistent with state epidemic orders. But Pavlos-Hackney continued to operate without a license.

Pavlos-Hackney was arrested March 19 after refusing to turn herself in to face a contempt hearing. 

Baker, who wasn’t hired until Pavlos-Hackney was arrested, said Aquilina questioned her without recognizing that she had a lawyer. He said there was “no testing of any evidence” or an opportunity to cross-examine or produce witnesses.