Mike Coughlin, who has owned the Village Tavern and Grill in Carol Stream, Illinois for 26 years, is refusing to comply with his state’s Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker’s order closing indoor dining amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Coughlin explained to Fox News on Tuesday that if he closes his business as Pritzker wants him to, he’ll never be able to reopen.
“I didn’t have a choice [but to keep my doors open],” he said. “For me it was if I close again … I won’t be able to reopen at all. It was a simple choice for me. Eight and a half months ago we were asked to close down for two weeks to help stop the curve, and here we are eight and a half months later … asked to close down again.”
Coughlin went on to say that it’s unreasonable for Pritzker to request businesses close down again, especially given how much money he spent on modifications to comply with the state’s COVID-19 mandates.
“We’ve spent thousands of dollars on plexiglas, on sanitizing stations, on putting tents out in the parking lot, air purification systems in the restaurant, and still we’re asked to close,” he explained. “I’ve got employees that are counting on me to stay open … single moms that need this job.”
He added that he is not the only business owner in his area who will not be complying with Pritzker’s orders.
“To me it was a no-brainer,” Coughlin said. “I’m not the only one out here. Most of us are staying open out in this area. We have to. We just can’t survive by closing our doors. Trying to survive on 25 percent is crazy as well. If we don’t stay open, we can’t ever reopen.”
Coughlin has given a number of interviews this week about what he is doing, telling the The Wall Street Journal, “You pay my bills, you pay my taxes, you pay my employees, and I’ll close. I’m not going to be the guy with a boarded-up building because I follow someone else’s science.”
The fed-up restaurant owner also told the Chicago Tribune that his lawyer has told him that the governor doesn’t even have the authority to make him shut down.
“We’ve complied with everything they’ve asked us to do — spent thousands on plexiglass and sanitizer and masks,” Coughlin said. “Of course it was a hard decision, absolutely. But the way I look at it, if I close down, I have nothing. If I stay open, there’s less risk. What can they do?”