Sick stuff right here:
A Fredericksburg restaurant that has repeatedly made headlines for defying Virginia's COVID mandates during the height of the pandemic and battling to maintain its licenses was subject to a search and seizure by the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) Friday morning.
A search warrant was issued for Gourmeltz's sales records and any information related to "possession of alcoholic beverages without a license, maintaining a common nuisance and the illegal sale of alcoholic beverages."
Gourmeltz owner Matt Strickland had his license to sell wine/beer/mixed beverages on and off-premises suspended in September 2021, but ABC put a stay on enforcing the order to give Strickland time to appeal. In November 2022, a final ruling was issued and ABC ordered Gourmeltz to halt selling alcohol for 90 days. The agency said it would reduce the suspension to 15 days if Strickland paid a $4,000 penalty and more than $6,400 in investigation costs.
But Gourmeltz did not comply.
The details matter here.
Strickland lost his liquor license for refusing to shut down, mask up, and destroy his livelihood at the behest of a government making illegal orders that did absolutely nothing to stop a respiratory virus that was largely only lethal to the elderly.
The state then tried to strong-arm Strickland into admitting his guilt and assuming financial responsibility for the fiasco by telling him it would only slap him on the wrist if he paid the government $10,000.
When the media tells you he "did not comply," understand the framework of abject tyranny that surrounds the situation.
"Despite administrative proceedings and the final order of the Circuit Court of Spotsylvania County affirming Virginia ABC's decision to suspend Gourmeltz's wine/beer on and off-premises and mixed beverage licenses, the establishment failed to comply with ABC's Board Order and continued to serve beer, wine and mixed beverages to customers," ABC wrote in a press release.
In January 2021, authorities pulled Gourmeltz's health permit for "not following the COVID-19 public health requirements in the governor's Executive Order."
In March 2021, Strickland was dragged into court because he "knowingly ignored the Code of Virginia § 4.1-225 2.a." The Virginian Attorney General's office sued him for not requiring his employees to wear masks and social distance.
He was scheduled to lose his liquor license on March 31, but bureaucrats decided to grant Strickland the "opportunity" of fighting the decision through a lengthy, multi-month court battle that few regular people are financially, emotionally, or professionally skilled enough to handle. Still, Strickland soldiered on with the appeals process to get justice.
When the court finally ordered his license to be suspended for 90 days unless he paid the government for the pleasure of being dragged into an exhaustive court battle, he told them to shove it where the sun doesn't shine.
You may point out that he could have avoided this if he just paid the authorities and stopped making them look bad, but your argument is the same one made by people who support mafias, cartels, and dictators the world over.
"Just pay up and no one gets hurt."
More context on Strickland from a 2021 article written by my coworker Daniel Payne when he was writing for Just The News:
Like many restaurateurs, the Stricklands shut down in the early months of 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic spread. Strickland said he attempted to do carryout-only but the restaurant was unable to generate enough income to maintain operations. In June, he said, he opened up his storefront again under Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's reopening guidelines, among which were numerous dining regulations and capacity limits.
"We followed all the governor's mandates when the COVID stuff first happened," Strickland said, "because I didn't know what COVID was about just like anybody else." After reopening several months into the pandemic, however, he said the new spate of restaurant regulations "were about something else other than our health and safety" because "they just made no sense."
"Nobody could sit at a bar, but you could put a table up next to the bar and sit," he said. "You had to wear a mask just to walk in but when you sit down, you can take it off. [The] regulations made no common sense."
The state was "starting to strip away the constitutional rights and freedoms of myself and my customers," he said. "And I wasn't going to be part of that."