Sunday River Brewing reopens for second time despite not having health license

Published: May. 5, 2020 at 1:56 PM EDT
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The owner of a Bethel restaurant who defied Maine Gov. Janet Mills in reopening his restaurant last week has reopened for a second time.

Rick Savage opened Sunday River Brewing to dine-in customers at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, even though the state suspended his health license after his first opening on May 1.

About two-dozen people were lined up outside waiting to get in on Tuesday.

Savage said he is allowing 49 people inside at a time in order to allow customers to distance themselves.

"I'm doing the spacing the same in here as Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe's. So there's no different than going to Home Depot, Lowe's or any of those stores as coming into my restaurant," Savage said.

Savage also painted lines in his parking lot eight feet apart so customers know how far to stand from each other while waiting.

About 150 people showed up on May 1 after Savage told a Fox News host about his plans to open his restaurant.

A state official tells WMTW News 8 the business could be fined $1,000 "per incident," and could send a violation each day the restaurant is open.

An official with the Department of Administrative and Financial Services sent along this statement:

"Tuesday, accompanied by Maine’s Health Inspection Program, the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations (BABLO) confirmed that Sunday River Brewing Company was operating in a non-compliant manner and issued two additional citations. As of now, Sunday River Brewing Company has incurred three citations and a temporary revocation of its health license.

Any establishment operating in a non-compliant manner subjects both their health and liquor licenses to review and potential suspension and revocation."

While restaurants are allowed to offer takeout, curbside pickup and delivery under Mills' order, dine-in service is not allowed.

The reopening of restaurants is part of phase 2 in June, according to the governor's plan.