Letter to Governor Whitmer from Michigan Restaurant Owners

Dear Governor Whitmer,
Thank you for your service to our state and for helping us during this terribly difficult time. We’ve stayed quiet on all things political, and don’t intend this to be political. This is not about right or left, this is about the livelihoods of everyone in the restaurant industry and the decision to extend the ban on dine-in service from today until February 1.

As you are well aware, there are more than 100,000 unemployed hospitality workers and many restaurant owners on the brink of bankruptcy. At the recent press conference, when referring to the bans on indoor dining you said “They’ve never been closed, they have take-out opportunities and they have outdoor dining,” While this is correct, many of us in the industry felt that this didn’t show enough empathy or understanding for our businesses. Most of our businesses simply cannot survive on Take-Out alone. The loss of sales has put thousands of small restaurant operators in Michigan on the verge of bankruptcy.

We completely understand your concern for safety. But we have met all 3 of the “Key Metrics for Safe Restart” established by the MDHHS. The 7 day average of new cases, Hospitalizations, and Percent Positivity are all within the metrics for a safe restart established by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Let’s address the elephant in the room. We know that there were some restaurants that did not follow the rules when we were allowed to be opened. Let us be clear: They were irresponsible and wrong. On the other hand, I can assure you that we took the safety restrictions extremely seriously and we were diligent about enforcing them. We made sure social distancing was enforced, we demanded all customers wear masks, we have kept health screening data on every single employee every day for the entire pandemic, we added barriers, we increased sanitization protocols, and much more. We can assure you that we were keeping our employees and customers safe. Please don’t punish us all because of the ignorant actions of the few bad operators.

During this pandemic, our staff has been on the frontlines serving the community while putting themselves at risk. We feed the hospital workers, the children with no lunch programs, the churchgoers, and the less fortunate. We Innovate to promote safe practices to get our product to our customers with online ordering, curbside, takeout, and delivery. We do this to survive, but also because we take our responsibility in the community very seriously.

Although we have grit, we are running out. We need to open. Restaurants are the backbone of a community, employing over 15 million people nationally, and feeding our communities. 33% of restaurants in Michigan say that they will not be able to stay in business, according to the MRLA.

Please, let us open safely as soon as possible. Thank you very much for your consideration and for all you have done for our state!

Signed: (These are the original signers of the letter.)

The Following are Additional Restaurant Owners That Have Voluntarily Requested to be Added to the letter. These establishments have not been verified by Saddleback BBQ owners but we are glad to add their names to the letter. Each owner agreed to the following terms in order to have their name added.

To Sign This Letter You Must Agree to These Conditions:
1. You MUST be respectful towards the Governor even if you have disagreements.
2. You MUST have been an operator of a restaurant, food or entertainment establishment that was impacted by the extension from Jan 15 to Feb 1.
3. You MUST have operated your Dine-In business, while you were allowed to be open in 2020, within the rules that were established by the State. If you didn’t operate by the rules, you cannot sign on to this letter.

  • David Hunt – Owner Big Boy (St. John’s, Mason, Essexville)
  • James Cheskaty – Co-Owner EnVie
  • Ted Darbor – Darbs Crystal Bar
  • Gianni Licari – Owner Licaris Sicilian Pizza Kitchen
  • Nihal & Andraya Fernando – Owner’s Fernando’s Café
  • Joseph Ghinelli – Owner Courthouse Pub & Grill
  • Tamara Black – Owner Buddies Pub and Grill EL
  • Nihal & Andraya Fernando – Owner Fernando’s Café
  • Natalie Norton – Owner Darb’s Patio Bar & Grille and Darb’s Country Tavern
  • Robyn Cole-mrozinski – Owner Jalapeño’s Mexican Restaurante
  • Gump Garmyn – Co partner Gumps bbq
  • Jim Farhat – Owner Piazzano’s
  • Jeth Ott – Owner Little Brown Jug
  • Kristin R Conger – Owner Black Sheep Pub
  • Rodrigo Abarca – Owner Oaks Eatery
  • Michael Carrigan – Owner JunkYard Dog
  • Sarah cox – President The garden griddle & creative catering services
  • Cathryn Neracher – Owner My Trivia Live
  • Teresa Hull – Owner Linda’s Corner Landing
  • Mark Miller – Owner Little Camilles by the Bay
  • Mike Kelly – Owner Kelly Equipment Service
  • Rob VanPatten – Owner The B&I Bar
  • Kelly Stapp – Operator/General Manager Clifford Lake Inn
  • Taylor and Matthew Prestidge – Owners Soulard’s
  • Michael D. Skory – Piano player/singer/entertainer Piano Bar Mike
  • Tony Dacoba – Owner Lacantina Ristorante Italiano
  • Richard Dallett – Owner The Vestal Inn
  • Derek Allen Sandmire – General Manager Charlie’s Bar and grill Westphalia
  • Terilynn Cook – Owner Buddies pub and grill & buddies grill
  • Christopher Potter – Owner Onondaga Tavern
  • Dawn E Slater – Owner City Limits Restaurant
  • Arby Schleman – Co-owner Eaton Rapids Craft Company
  • Jennifer Trout – Owner Red Arrow Roadhouse
  • Martin & Amy Ramos – Owners Amy’s Catering and The Thirsty Bird Bar & Kitchen
  • Canyon Platt – Owner Alma’s Main Cafe
  • Daniel C Riedy – Owner Riedy’s Riedy’s Pizza Tavern
  • Jeff Neely – Owner Old Chicago (Okemos, Midland, Southgate and Kentwood Locations)
  • John Baier – Proprietor El Nibble Nook
  • John A. Mamouzellos – Owner Galley Grill
  • Natasha Lynn Bissell – Owner Kramer’s bar and grill
  • Angie green – Owner Evergreens coffee and bakeshop
  • John Foster – Co-Owner The Wheel Inn
  • Pamela Foster – Co-Owner The Wheel Inn
  • Michele Mathews – Owner Manager Wooden Shoe Restaurant
  • Denny and Michelle Emmer – Owners Cheezy D’s
  • Bill and Tom Corey – Owners Corey’s Lounge
  • Teresa Vander Zwaag – Owner The Farmhouse
  • Jeanette Ellsworth – Owner Sunnyside Cafe
  • Marc Harger – Owner Office Lounge & Grill & Glennie Tavern
  • Kimberly Ball – Owner Country Creek Reception Hall
  • Jeremy Sprague – President, Head Brewer Sleepwalker
  • Michael Zajac – Owner Two Yolks’ Cafe
  • Mark Fink – Owner The Watershed Tavern and Grill.
  • Emily & Colin Quiney – Owners Back Door Saloon
  • Kathy Grover – Owner/Operator Frog Tiki Bar and East Bay Grille
  • Debra Cheneyo – Owner Jds Old Town tavern and The Houghton lake Shrimp Shack
  • Bob Taylor – Owner Country Pub, Gregory MI
  • Annette Nelson – Manager Stanz Cafe
  • Cora Hallauer – Owner The Limberlost, The Firehouse and Budd Lake Bar
  • Matt & JoAnn Stevens – Co-Owner/Brewer Barn Brewers Brewery
  • Joe Wolf – Operations Manager Louie’s Trophy House and. Louie’s Corner Bar
  • Erin Lyon – Owner Jumpin’ Java, Grand Haven
  • Christopher Potter – Owner Onondaga Tavern
  • Chris Housler – Owner University Roadhouse /Main St Pub
  • Jordan Nieto – Owner Bear’s 105 Diner
  • Robert McCormick – Owner Fort Gratiot Big Boy
  • John Lowman – Owner Wrought Iron Grill
  • Joel and Heidi Gesiakowski – Owners Taste
  • Lisa Tyler – Owner Cherokee Restaurant, Muskegon
  • Autumn Weston – Owner Kewpees

If you own or operate an establishment that was impacted by this order and would like to sign on to this letter please let us know by using this form! Thank you.

To contact Saddleback BBQ you can chat with us or email info@saddlebackbbq.co