Bar owners file new lawsuit against Cooper for "severely restricted" executive order

Some bar owners say there's very little to toast this holiday season. Those in the small business sector feel they've been singled out and treated unfairly during the pandemic. Some are fighting back.

The owner of Raleigh's Dueling Piano Bar has joined a group of North Carolina bar owners who have filed a new lawsuit against Governor Roy Cooper.

It says the current executive order is "so severely restricted" that it's "unprofitable to operate" and Gov. Cooper is depriving owners of "their right to earn a living."

The suit points out that, "restaurants, private clubs, breweries, wineries, and distilleries have been allowed to open and operate for onsite indoor consumption of alcohol," while bars have been limited.

Cooper has long argued the restrictions were meant to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Arcana Co-Owner Lindsey Andrews is not a part of the suit, but says the arguments being made are valid.

"We're really stuck," said Andrews. "We're going into debt and we're doing our math every day to figure out how long to hedge our bets on how long to stay home."

The lawsuit comes as there's turmoil over another executive order.

Cooper gave the green light this week for owners to begin selling to-go cocktails.

Establishments immediately started serving mojitos, margaritas, martinis and others mixed drinks in take-out containers.

A memo from the North Carolina Sheriff's Association suggests the move is illegal, but Cooper says the sales can continue.

The back-and-forth has served up a shot of confusion.

The grey area doesn't impact Andrews. She has been closed since March and actually doesn't have much product.

Andrews participated a liquor buyback program in the summer and sold off most of her inventory in order to pay back rent.

She would need to restock everything to sell to-go cocktails.

"(The executive order) only runs through January. It's hard to say we would recoup the costs of getting up and running. So it's just not the lifeline we need. We need far more substantial support in the form of subsides, federal aid, state aid," said Andrews.
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