Michigan restaurant leaves franchise over virus restrictions
An owner of a restaurant in Michigan’s Thumb Region said Friday that the franchisee has split from its corporate office and changed its name after refusing to stop seating customers as part of state restrictions to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Customers Friday were greeted with “Sandusky Diner” instead of “Sandusky Big Boy,” which the restaurant was called for 35 years.
It was one of four eateries cited earlier this week for violating the state’s Nov. 15 order. Three other establishments, including one of the restaurants, also had their liquor licenses suspended.
Big Boy’s corporate office told the owners of the Sandusky restaurant they had 24 hours to get into compliance with the state’s order, said Troy Tank, part owner and operations manager for the restaurant.
“We had already decided we weren’t going to do that,” Tank told The Associated Press. “We would be open only for carryout. We were not in a position to do that again. We had already done it for three months earlier in quarantine.”
Tank said his restaurant tried the carry-out route for a while, but that it wasn't their “specialty."
“Our backs were against the wall, and we knew we were going to have to fight,” he said.
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced limits on businesses amid a surge of COVID-19 cases that has led to increased hospitalizations and deaths. A public health order also restricts gatherings.
The restrictions forced Michigan high schools and colleges to halt in-person classes, while entertainment businesses such as casinos, movie theaters and bowling alleys would close for at least three weeks.
Whitmer also urged the public to “double down” with precautions to avoid a shelter-in-place order similar to what was instituted in the spring.