ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Missouri legislators say they’re stepping in to combat St. Louis County restaurant restrictions. State Senator Andrew Koenig is planning a 10 a.m. news conference Tuesday at Satchmo’s Bar & Grill in Chesterfield to announce his plan.
Satchmo’s has remained defiant through St. Louis County’s restaurant shutdown orders. Co-owner Benjamin Brown says he intends to keep fighting.
“I’m not just fighting for myself and my restaurant,” he said. “I’m fighting for my industry and the thousands of people that are affected by this.”
He’s received several warning letters from St. Louis County – the first couple he said threatened civil and criminal penalties. The third warning letter was different.
“It seems like they completely pivoted and now there’s no mention of (civil and criminal penalties),” he said. “Now they’re threatening our liquor license and our business license.”
State Sen. Koenig says he chose Satchmo’s for Tuesday’s news conference because of the restaurant’s fight against the public health order.
“I believe St. Louis County’s charter would require (the order) to go through the county council. I actually don’t think they’re following the law,” he said.
Koenig says he’ll unveil his complete plan Tuesday morning.
“Our rights are being violated. I’ll give you a little teaser of one thing that’s going to be in the bill and that’s no business should have to pay property tax in a period of time when they’re shut down,” he said.
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page responded to the possible fight during Monday’s COVID news briefing.
“I haven’t seen this legislation today so I can’t comment specifically on it, but every year in the state legislature, 2,000 or 3,000 bills are sponsored and offered for discussion,” he said.
Page pointed out that most of them die and that he believes public opinion is on his side.
“The vast majority of our residents understand the difficult sacrifices we are making,” he said.
Koenig’s legislation is at least the second attempt by Missouri legislators to intervene. FOX 2 reported last Tuesday on Missouri Representative David Gregory’s similar legislative fight.
Satchmo’s has no plans to close its indoor dining despite the third warning letter. Brown also plans to speak at Tuesday’s news conference.