St. Louis County cracks down on restaurants accused of violating health order

Missouri

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – The St. Louis County Health Department shut down four restaurants because officials say the eating establishments were not following COVID-19 health safety orders. 

According to the health department, each of the restaurants had received three warnings prior to Tuesday’s action.

Four restaurants were notified that their permits to operate had been suspended:

  • Bartolino’s South, 5914 S. Lindbergh Blvd.
  • OT’s Bar, 9212 St. Charles Rock Road
  • Final Destination Bar & Cafe, 10660 St. Charles Rock Road
  • Satchmo’s Bar & Grill, 13375 Olive Blvd.

A fifth restaurant, Acapulco Restaurant & Lounge on St. Charles Rock Road, will receive a suspension notice if it continues to follow county health rules.

A health department inspector arrived to notify owners the place was being shut down, but when he saw FOX 2 inside with a camera, he said he didn’t want to be on TV and left. 

“These five establishments were warned repeatedly against allowing indoor dining and drinking, a public health order we enacted last month that stops the practice of indoor dining because it’s so dangerous,” said Christopher Ave, a spokesman for the health department.

Mari Zegar, who owns Acapulco, said she served food after the order went into effect but stopped after the first of three warnings that the health department said were sent to all five restaurants. 

“We have rights. We have constitutional rights to prosper and live free without having a county executive tell us how to live our life,” she said. 

The DPH provided FOX 2 with the language on the notices, which can be read below:

This facility’s permit has been suspended per St. Louis County Food Code, Section 8-304.40.

The operation of this Food Establishment constitutes a hazard to public health due to failure to
adhere to the Safer at Home Public Health Order. The facility is ordered to cease operations,
effective immediately at time of delivery of this notice, 12/1/2020.

The permit holder of this facility may make a written request for a hearing within ten (10) days
after notice of suspension and the Director shall provide a hearing within ten (10) days after the
request. If no request for a hearing is filed within ten (10) days, the suspension becomes final.

When a suspension becomes final, the person whose permit was suspended may reapply for a permit under the Food Code, Section 8-302.13 after the expiration of sixty (60) days.
DPH issued a public health order last month banning indoor dining in order to protect the safety
of county residents.

The county health department will seek a court order to enforce the closure if any of the restaurants continue to violate the indoor dining ban.

St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page has previously outlined why he was ending indoor dining.

“It’s an aerosol and it moves about in a room. It moves farther without a mask it remains in a room depending on how long you’re there,” he said. “We are headed past bars and restaurants and we are headed toward a greater shutdown unless we can stop the transmission of this virus in our community and get our hands around it.” 

If restaurants want to reopen, they have to go through a hearing with the health department.

Separately, the St. Louis County Council approved a resolution last night by a four to three vote which would limit the ability of the Health Department Director to enforce public health orders without County Council approval. 

However, Doug Moore, the Chief Communications Officer for County Executive Dr. Sam Page, says the resolution is symbolic and may be the opinion of the County Council but it does not have the force of law. 

On Tuesday, Missouri State Senator Andrew Koenig said he was going to file a bill to limit the power of municipalities to call for shutdowns. Koenig’s bill would allow for a two-week maximum shutdown over a two year period of time.

Last month, a St. Louis County judge denied a temporary restraining order brought by nearly 40 restaurants fighting to stay open inside.

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