The owner of a restaurant in Sandusky, Michigan, says it is being “forced to terminate” its contract with the Big Boy franchise over its decision to stay open despite pandemic restrictions.
A recent order from the state of Michigan has closed indoor restaurant dining in the state from November 18 to December 8. It also closed in-person learning for college and high schools, movie theaters, bowling alleys and arcades. The order additionally cancels group fitness classes and organized sports.
Troy Tank, the owner of a former Big Boy restaurant in Sandusky, said that he must remain open in order to help his employees.
“This has gone to [sic] far, I have to remain open, I have 25 families that depend on this place to pay their bills,” Tank said in a Facebook post about a visit from a state official. “…This has all been deemed unconstitutional and dozens of law suits have been filed in the last 48 hours. As a American citizen I am standing my ground for my family and yours.”
The restaurant follows social distancing and operates at only 50% capacity, according to WXYZ. Both employees and guests are required to wear masks.
Tank said on Facebook that the Big Boy corporation is pressing legal action against the restaurant.
“Unfortunately we have been contacted by corporate Big Boy and they are planning on taking legal action against us.It is our decision at this time due to our hand being forced to terminate the franchise agreement we have with them,” Tank said. “We had hoped that after 35 years of working together that corporate would sympathize with our cause and rally behind us, they did not. So because of this we plan on moving forward without them.”
Big Boy Restaurant Group LLC said it is looking to halt the restaurant’s operations.
“Big Boy has and always will be dedicated to the health and safety of our customers and staff,” the franchise said in a statement, according to WXYZ. “The actions of a franchisee in Sandusky, Michigan are not representative of Big Boy as a brand, our operations, or standards. Big Boy does not condone, approve or support in any way the actions of this franchisee and is in the process of taking legal action to stop them from operating as a Big Boy Restaurant under the present conditions. Big Boy has taken immediate action to rectify the situation, maintain our commitment to quality, and adherence to health regulations.”
Tank has set up a GoFundMe to help with the $5,000 in fines he says the restaurant has accrued for remaining open. As of Friday, the fund had raised more than $7,000.
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair.