FREEBURG, Ill. – A Village of Freeburg business and the mayor are fighting back against what they call a questionable health warning. They’re questioning the motivation of a St. Clair County official.
Reifschneider’s Grill & Grape was one of two businesses named in a St. Clair County warning email Friday, October 30.
Dan and Heather Reifschneider, owners of the restaurant, were confused about the warning and question whether it was political payback.
“I’ve got families that count on me and I’m just not ready to give that up yet. I’ve got too many people that I’ve known that are good people,” Dan said. “I know their families. I know their kids. I’ve seen their kids grow and I just can’t just shut down and leave them out on the street.”
Heather added: “They’re worried. We’re worried. They’re like our family.”
Their restaurant is remaining open inside, despite orders for outside dining only. They are following every other health precaution, from sanitizing surfaces to wearing masks and spreading out tables.
“I can go and sit in the casino and be six foot apart from a guy playing slot machines all night long. I can eat in the casino, but you can’t come into this restaurant?”
“I guarantee you this restaurant is cleaner than any casino in town.”
Last Friday, Village of Freeburg Mayor Seth Speiser got a warning letter about Reifschneider’s.
“(St. Clair County) asked for my help in shutting them down,” Speiser said.
The warning came one day after FOX 2 reported on St. Clair County Emergency Management Director Herb Simmons, who admitted he was breaking his own health warnings by running wrestling shows, in groups, with no mask.
In a phone call with FOX 2, Simmons justified his actions saying he breaks the rules out of state.
“We don’t do that here because the state says we can’t do it here,” he said.
Simmons added that this behavior is allowed in Tennessee, where he travelled for the wrestling events.
“I guess because their mitigation is different,” he said.
St. Clair County has taken no action against Simmons and declined our request to discuss it.
Meanwhile, Dan Reifschneider expressed his disapproval over the apparent double standard in last week’s FOX 2 report and wonders if he’s paying for it today.
“It’s pretty much all political payback,” he said.
The mayor added that he will not be shutting down any Freeburg businesses that remain open inside and he said he’s confident they are following all other guidelines.
“It looks bad for the county to send that letter out the next day,” Speiser said. If we would’ve got that letter a week before anything had aired on TV, I’d say yeah.”