Lippitt O’Keefe Advocates for Small Restaurant Relief in Light of Covid-19 Disruptions

Gov. Whitmer’s recent Executive Orders, while necessary to protect the health and safety of all Michiganders, has had a disastrous impact on Michigan’s restaurants and bars. The restrictions imposed by these orders prohibit restaurants from serving dine-in customers, which may drastically reduce revenue for these small businesses. Restaurants are being forced to adjust to serving a larger carry-out clientele, and may consider expanding their hours to reach more customers.

Typically, in order to expand its operating hours, a restaurant holding a Class C or Tavern license in the City of Royal Oak must petition the City Commission for an approval of a change it that restaurant’s Plan of Operation. The same holds true if a license-holding restaurant wants to change any significant aspect of its serving of alcohol in light of the order from the Governor that restaurants may only fill carry-out orders. Given that the next City Commission meeting isn’t for another two weeks, and that public health concerns discourage non-essential public appearances, it is very difficult for a restaurant to make emergency adjustments in an attempt to alleviate the anticipated losses which will occur while restaurants are prohibited from serving dine-in customers.

In an effort to mitigate these losses, Lippitt O’Keefe appeared at the City of Royal Oak’s Commission Meeting on Monday, March 16, 2020. Fortunately, as a result of Lippitt O’Keefe’s efforts, all license-holding restaurants within Royal Oak will now have an easier way to make changes to their Plan of Operation. The City Commission voted to allow these restaurants to correspond with the Royal Oak Police Department to make such changes. Instead of requiring Commission consent while COVID-19 restrictions are in place, the Commission vested the power to approve revised Plans of Operations with the Police Department. This allowed Lippitt O’Keefe’s client to activate its SDM license, permitting it to serve alcohol with carry-out orders, and to expand its operating hours to serve lunch in addition to dinner.

Because the City Commission’s action applied to all restaurants within the City, any restaurant in the City of Royal Oak wanting to modify its Plan of Operation to expand its hours, or otherwise modify its Plan of Operation, it may do so by contacting the Police Department. This will provide significant relief to restaurants experiencing revenue reduction as a result of COVID-19 limitations.