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Bar owner leads rally to protest possible 5-year liquor license loss


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    MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota bar owner facing a possible five-year suspension of her liquor license for remaining open for indoor service says she’s fine with that.

The Interchange Wine and Coffee Bistro in Albert Lea continues to defy Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order.

On Sunday, The Interchange’s owner, Lisa Hanson, organized a march in protest of the order. Nearly 200 people attended.

“It’s time for us patriots to rise up, in a peaceful way of course, and to say, ‘Hey, enough is enough,’” Hanson said.

Since mid-December, a temporary restraining order’s been issued against The Interchange. The Minnesota Department of Health has suspended its license, and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety intends to suspend its liquor license for 60 days.

Hanson is undeterred.

“We are open for business,” she said. “[We’re] staying open because we need to make money to pay bills.”

Hanson believes the state is unlawfully enforcing an unlawful order. Further violations put The Interchange at risk of losing its liquor license for five years.

“We’re well aware of what the consequences could be,” Hanson said. “Either I closed permanently or I opened fully, so I opened fully … and yes, I knew the risks going into that.”

Hanson readily admits her stand is about principle at least as much as it’s about her business. Inside The Interchange, pocket-size United States Constitutions are laid out on a counter, protest T-shirts are on sale and a tip jar’s been converted to a legal fund.

“We believe that we will see victory in this,” Hanson said.

Before any liquor license suspension can go into effect, Hanson is entitled to a court hearing. She says she plans to consult with her attorney on how to proceed.

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