BETHEL (WGME) — For the fourth time this year, the state has ordered Sunday River Brewing Company to temporarily close its doors but the owners are refusing to do it.
“We got reinstated last Sunday for our licenses so they had inspectors back in here on Monday,” said co-owner Rick Savage.
State records show inspectors recently cited the restaurant for Plexiglas not having been reinstalled and staff not wearing face coverings.
Savage said he and another employee were caught with masks below their nose.
“Everything that they’re finding at this point is just so petty. It’s just enough to try to get the judge to shut us down, is what they’ re doing,” he said.
Because of the ongoing violations, Savage said, a judge ordered him to close the restaurant for 30 days something he refuses to do.
“We’re not closing. We’re going to keep running our business. We got 65 families that make a living out of this building and we’re not shutting down,” he said.
According to state records, 48 Maine businesses have been cited for violations. Of those, 10 have had their licenses temporarily suspended.
But only Sunday River Brewing had their license suspended five times and was ordered to close twice.
Savage said he believes state officials are trying to make an example of his business.
“There’s no doubt about it. They’re trying to make it look like that if you don’t go by Governor Mills’ mask mandate, or other mandates, they’re going to put you out of business,” he said.
But a federal judge has already dismissed one of Savage’s lawsuits about the governor’s restrictions and a Maine Department of Health and Human Services said citations are only issued when businesses don’t comply and that “this is standard enforcement practice for establishments that don t abide by the safety protocols.”
Savage said the brewery is now following every state protocol including masks, social distancing and Plexiglas.
Next week, Savage will be in court to try to stop what he calls harassment by the state and to fight to keep his restaurant open.