By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A Cheyenne restaurant that has been openly defying Wyoming public health orders for months has finally agreed to comply after being threatened with a potential shutdown.
Sanford’s Grub and Pub had posted a sign on its doors telling patrons that it would not follow social distancing requirements or mask mandates for guests as required under the latest statewide health orders issued to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
However, owner James Yates, in a Facebook posting, said he agreed to comply after he received a warning from the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department that if the restaurant continued to defy health orders, its food license would be suspended.
“It is with a heavy heart we must announce that we will be returning to 50% capacity for the foreseeable future,” Sanford’s posted on its Facebook page. “Due to the continuous harassment and threats of losing the licenses necessary to operate our fine establishment…we must unfortunately comply with all social distancing and mask mandate orders to ensure our doors stay open to our loyal guests.”
Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department executive director Kathy Emmons told Cowboy State Daily last month that she spoke with multiple city and state officials about steps that could be taken to encourage Yates to obey the health orders, including the revocation of Sanford’s liquor license.
“(Owner James Yates) made it very clear that he understood the health orders, but had no intent of complying with them,” Emmons said at the time.
Emmons did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday.
She previously said she believed there was enough space in the two-story restaurant to keep patrons spaced six feet apart but added she believed Yates’ decision to disregard the order was not made for business reasons.
“I didn’t do this for any reason, except for the fact that if I don’t do it, I can’t pay my bills …. and I’m not going to lay off any more of these hardworking employees that worked for me,” Yates told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.
Last week, Gov. Mark Gordon relaxed multiple health orders, including increasing the capacity in restaurants, but kept the mask mandate in effect until at least March 15.
Restaurants will also be allowed to seat up to groups of 10 at one table — an increase from previous limits of eight — and open buffets and other self-service options.