Local Restaurant Owner Defies COVID Restrictions; Jailed

Aishwarya Singh


Jan 19’ 22

Marlena Pavlos-Hackney, owner of Marlena’s Bistro and Pizzeria, was forced to close her restaurant after she was arrested and sent to jail on Mar. 19, 2021. The business remained closed until reopening on Tuesday, Sept. 21. She had received judicial clearance to reopen on Sept. 2.

The case against Pavlos-Hackney began when she kept her restaurant open for in-person dining services, against the guidance of state restrictions. Proceeding the breech of state orders, she had her state food license suspended. Despite her license being suspended, Pavlos-Hackney continued to serve customers in her restaurant and run her in-person dining services. Following this second violation, she was arrested by local authorities and spent five days in the Ingham County Jail. Her January suspension was a result of her keeping the restaurant open to in-person dining, against the restrictions of the time.

Upon receiving the clearance for the reopening of her restaurant, Pavlos-Hackney organized a grand reopening celebration for Oct. 2 at the venue of her restaurant, located on at 909 Lincoln Avenue in Holland, with several people called to speak in the parking lot.

“I escape Communism and what I experience right now, this is exactly what makes me feel like I’m back under Soviet Union dictatorship,” said Pavlos-Hackney in an interview with MichiganLive. While opposing current COVID restrictions, she recounts her experience of fleeing communist Poland in 1988 and immigrating to the United States. She said she will do whatever it takes to “bring the economy back.”

Following her return to Holland from Ingham County Jail and the reopening of her restaurant, Pavlos-Hackney now claims her rights were violated when her license was suspended and she was arrested. She is currently appealing $15,000 that she had to pay in fine before she was arrested.

Community members and other restaurants from in and around Holland have come forward to support the local business owner. Many have labelled her a hero, with others having commended her for standing up against what they consider to be impediments on basic freedoms.

“It’s a shame that somebody from a different country has to point out the dangers of socialism and what it can do to our country,” said Ken Beyer, a patron at Marlena’s.

Many, however, have also been critical of her defiance and the possible threat she poses to the lives of people in the clutches of a global pandemic which, in Michigan alone, has now led to 30,674 deaths and almost 2 million cases. Ingham County Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who put Pavlos-Hackney in jail, said she had put the community at risk. Attorney General Dana Nessel said she had defied court orders and the local health department “at every turn.”

Whether Pavlos-Hackney will be reimbursed for the $15,000 she was fined is yet to be seen, but the debate over whether or not COVID-19 restrictions constitute a threat to basic freedoms and liberties is alive and well and shows no signs of retreating with the new rise in omicron cases across the nation, leading to new restrictions. It is one that has divided the American people over what many claim should have never become a divisive issue to begin with.

One Reply to “Local Restaurant Owner Defies COVID Restrictions; Jailed

  1. Protecting the public is the moral and ethical responsibility of everyone. It supersedes individual choice and, furthermore, is the law.

Leave a Reply