Club Saratoga plans to open bar May 18

Jim Lundstrom

Dan Lowe is certain that by the time you read this, Gov. Tim Walz will have extended the stay-at-home order that was originally to have ended on May 18.

“He likes to do the drama and wait until the last minute, and Thursday or Friday say he’s extending it two weeks more. I know he’s going to do that,” Lowe said.

No matter what the governor does, Lowe plans to re-open his business, Club Saratoga in Canal Park, at 3 pm Monday, May 18.

“We’re not going to have dancers. We’re just going to be a bar,” Lowe said.

“Somebody’s got to do it. I can’t believe in this country, we’re laying back and letting this happen. It’s bizarre to me. It’s a dictatorship that has happened. The thing about a dictatorship, you should never like it because you’re not the one being picked on because you will be next.”

Lowe said he understands the reason for the original two-week lockdown.

“Walz almost had to do a lockdown because everybody else was,” he said. “I don’t blame him for that. He was looking out for our best interests. But right now we’re eight weeks into this thing. It’s gone way too long.”

Lowe believes the virus has been politicized and also that there are financial incentives to keep the state in lockdown mode.

“This has become a money grab and they don’t want to see the money end,” he said.
He sent a detailed list of the various millions and billions being provided to states to back up his statement about the money grab.

Lowe said he is aware of other business owners who share his feelings, but preferred not to name names.

“I don’t want anyone else to get into trouble,” he said. “But I’m a big boy and somebody’s got to do this. If you’re going to let people into big box stores, just because you have a tall ceiling doesn’t mean it’s any less contagious than if you’re in a bar or restaurant.”

Lowe said he is bringing back two bartenders to work, and there will be guidelines to be observed.

“We’ll have stools spaced out six feet and they’ll be marked in case they get shuffled around,” he said. “We’re going to have masks and hand sanitizers all over. We’re going to take temperatures with a medical grade infrared digital thermometer. Those are the guidelines. We’re doing what the bog box stores are required to do. It;s apples to apples. We want to be on the same playing field, and we will be on Monday. We’re going to be very conscientious about it. We’re not bringing the girls back, but we will. We hope others follow suit.”

To keep things light, Lowe said his drink special will be $3 bottles of Corona until they’re gone.

“And no one over 90 allowed,” Lowe added with a laugh.

Lowe is in tune with a group of small business who last week announced they were suing the state for deeming them non-essential businesses and shutting them down. They say the shutdown is unconstitutional under the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.

According to a press release, the plaintiffs are represented by attorney Erick Kaardal and were identified when they contacted the Government Oppression Hotline. Other interested businesses can join the suit by calling the hotline (844-744-4870).

The hotline is linked to the Free Minnesota Small Business Coalition, the spokesperson of which is Dan McGrath of Minnesota Majority, who earlier in the century led the failed charge for stronger voter ID laws in Minnesota to stop fraudulent voting.

The lawsuit asserts that Gov. Walz has acted beyond his legitimate powers by picking winners and losers, and claim the decision of what makes a critical business was arbitrary and without any effort to base categories on defined public health or economic standards.

“The Governor lost his constitutional compass in sailing the State of Minnesota through the COVID pandemic,” Attorney Kaardal said in the press release. “The consequence of his unconstitutional categories is massive suffering for small businesses on an unprecedented scale. We’re hopeful that the appellate courts of Minnesota will agree that the Governor’s categories of ‘Critical Sector,’ ‘essential,’ and ‘Non-Critical Exempt Businesses’ are not narrowly tailored to meet a compelling state interest.”

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison issued a statement in March upon Walz’s stay-at-home order, saying  the governor’s authority to issue the executive order “is firmly rooted in Minnesota law.”

Just weeks later, when Walz issued the first extension to May 4, Ellison reiterated that the governor’s stay-at-home orders are backed by law, and businesses who do not obey yhe law could face fines up to $25,000 per violation.

“If there are non-exempted businesses that do not comply with the order, however, I will use the full enforcement power that the Order extends to my office,” Ellison wrote.