Restaurant owner refuses to shutdown after liquor, food licenses suspended for COVID violations

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ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Ill. – It was confirmed Friday public health authorities in St. Clair County were attempting to shut down at least three bars/restaurants for alleged violations of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Covid-19 restrictions. One of the owners is defying those orders to shutdown.

H’s Bar near Belleville and George’s Tavern in East Carondolet had their liquor licenses suspended Thursday, authorities said.

Workers and customers confirmed authorities suspended the food license at Shooters in O’Fallon, IL, Friday afternoon.

Both H’s and George’s have been hit with $1,000 fines. H’s was closed Friday.

George’s remained open until Friday evening even though the building’s owner, Juan Gillam, said a health inspector and sheriff’s deputies had been there three times Thursday and Friday to serve notices suspending his liquor and food licenses.

On Friday, six police officers and the county health inspector removed his food license from the wall.

“I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve broken no laws. All I did was break their rules,” Gillam said. “My question is why, a half-mile down the street, that tavern is not being harassed but I am? That pandemic’s not a mile down the street? Rules (should) apply to everybody, not just 1 or 2. There’s no problems here. It’s not a night club. There’s been no Covid, nothing. It’s sanitary. The place is clean. I just think it’s wrong. They’re trying to deprive me of making a living. When they quit their job, I’ll quit mine.”

Regulars agree with his decision to keep George’s doors open.

Gregory Schrum, a regular at Georges said, “he’s not in a township and a lot townships are not abiding by bridgers laws and regulations. And they’re harassing him because he’s in an unincorporated area.”

Gilliam said the bar has been in the family for 50 years and if the county decides to arrest him they’re going to have to haul him out of the restaurant.

“Because like I said, my dad before me had this and he would have done the same thing,” Gilliam said.

Gilliam said if other bars can stay open, he should be able to stand up for his rights to make a living.

Gilliam is looking into legal advice and said he’s not worried about the consequences he could face.

Fox 2/News 11 reached out to the county board chairman, the county public health department, the state’s attorney, and the governor about the allegation of selective enforcement and their plans for what to do about those defying orders to close.

Only the state’s attorney had responded as of early Friday evening. He simply said, “no comment.”

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