On Monday afternoon, Backstreet Grill, a restaurant in Old Town Albuquerque that had remained open despite bullying from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) for alleged non-compliance with mask mandates, had a surprise legal win.
Second Judicial District Court Judge Lisa Chavez Ortega ruled against NMED after the lawyer representing the Department, Andrew Knight, claimed, “The change in the mask mandate only applies to vaccinated, fully vaccinated individuals.” He said, “This restaurant has become the center of for the no mask, no vax crowd” and “We just know they’re unvaccinated in that restaurant.”
Despite the claim that the restaurant had supposedly become a “center” for anti-vaxxers, the judge was not impressed, asking Knight, “The enforcement of the fully vaccinated issue that you just mentioned, how can that be enforced?”
After the decision, attorney Jonathan Diener who is representing Backstreet Grill, said, “We had a big legal win today in Albuquerque. We got a judge who was not a maskhole. She refused to extend the ex-parte temporary restraining order against our restaurant client which had ordered them to close for ignoring the mask ‘mandate’ (all their employees did not mask). Or to hold them in contempt for ignoring the order after she made it and they remained open. She did this based on the fact that the governor has lifted the mask mandate in N.M for the vaccinated.”
He did add, however, “The case is not over. They (NMED) have a chance to file a new motion arguing that the injunction should issue because the restaurant, its employees and patrons, the attorney said, were a hotbed of antivaxers and enemies of covid fascism and would certainly not all be jabbed.”
The temporary win for Backstreet Grill is a blow to the Governor and the Environment Department, who wished to make an example of the restaurant and instead ended up with a legal loss.
“We will continue to move forward through the court to ensure this establishment is held accountable,” said Maddy Hayden, director of communications for Gov. Lujan Grisham’s New Mexico Environmental Department.
The restaurant is also reportedly facing Mayor Tim Keller’s City of Albuquerque suspending its food permit. According to KOB 4, “The city is still trying to figure out what, if any, course of action it will take.”