Kriner’s Diner backs down after Municipality of Anchorage seeks to increase fines

Customers dined inside at Kriner’s Diner on Friday afternoon, Aug. 7, 2020, just a few hours after a state judge ordered the restaurant to shut down dine-in service. (Tegan Hanlon/Alaska Public Media)

Kriner’s Diner says it will stop serving food indoors after attorneys for the Municipality of Anchorage sought to boost daily fines to $15,000 per day.

Attorneys with the Municipality of Anchorage filed a motion on Saturday for a contempt of court hearing against Kriner’s owners after the diner continued serving meals despite an injunction granted by a state judge.

The restaurant was busy Friday and Saturday after the judge ordered the restaurant to close its indoor dining. Social media posts showed long lines out the door and few customers wearing masks.

In a motion filed Saturday, the municipality called Kriner’s decision to keep serving “blatant defiance” of the court. It also said Kriner’s lawyer, Blake Quackenbush, was “actively encouraging and participating in the ongoing violations” even though he had written to municipality lawyers saying he would advise his clients to abide by a stop-work order.

In asking for the contempt of court hearing, municipal attorneys pointed to a Facebook post by Quackenbush where he posted a video from his personal account of a packed Kriner’s Diner. He labeled the video “Americans peacefully protesting in a historic ‘sit-in.’ Breakfast is served.” The post has since been removed.

The city ordered all restaurants and bars to shut down indoor dining beginning last Monday to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Most restaurants complied, but Kriner’s Diner refused and was later issued a stop-work order by the municipality. Then on Friday, a state superior court judge ruled that the restaurant must shut down.

The judge in the case wrote in his opinion that “A property interest cannot outweigh a person’s interest in life.”

The city asked the court to boost the fine against Kriner’s from $600 a day to a daily fine of $5,000 each for the two owners and the business. It’s also asking for a court-imposed sanction against Quackenbush for violating codes of professional conduct.

In a Facebook video post on Sunday, Kriner’s Diner co-owner Andy Kriner said the fines were too much for the business, and he would shut down his dine-in service beginning Monday.

“We wish we could be open longer, but, you know, we just can’t afford that much money,” he said.

He said Kriner’s would be open Monday for takeout only.

Alaska Public Media

Alaska Public Media is our partner station in Anchorage. KTOO collaborates with partners across the state to cover important news and to share stories with our audiences.

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