URBANA — Another Champaign County restaurant said to be defying state and local health rules will have to temporarily close or be in violation of a court order.
At a hearing Wednesday, Judge Roger Webber granted the county health department a temporary restraining order against Billy Bob’s, 105 E. Broadway St., Ogden. The order will restrain Billy Bob’s from operating without a valid health permit until 9 a.m. Jan. 12, at which time there will be further hearing to determine a longer-term resolution.
Webber was assigned to the case after the restaurant’s attorney, Tom DeVore, asked for a change of judge from Judge Ben Dyer.
Local health officials suspended Billy Bob’s health permit Dec. 11 with an order to cease all operations after observing Billy Bob’s continuing to serve indoors in violation of a state ban on indoor service at restaurants and bars.
The state ban is intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Indoor service at bars and restaurants is considered to be risky because customers must remove their masks to eat and drink in an enclosed space shared by other customers.
Billy Bob’s has continued to operate with a suspended permit, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Matt Banach.
Next up is a temporary restraining order hearing set for this morning for Lil Buford’s, 102 N. Long St., Tolono, also in connection with continuing to operate after its health permit was suspended for unlawful indoor service.
Another hearing that had been set for today, concerning Merry-Ann’s Diner, 1510 S. Neil St., C, was canceled after Dyer signed a permanent injunction order Wednesday prohibiting Merry-Ann’s to operate without a valid health permit.
The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District suspended Merry-Ann’s health permit Dec. 9, also for serving indoors, and the city of Champaign subsequently suspended the diner’s food-and-beverage license after the diner continued to operate with a suspended permit.
Under terms of a settlement agreement, Merry-Ann’s would be permitted to be open for carry-out and delivery only after the health district reinspects the diner and the owner submits a written plan to operate in compliance with state COVID-19 restrictions and public-health requirements.
The settlement also calls for diner owner Mary Pomonis to pay a $50 permit-reinstatement fee to the health district and any fines connected with unlawfully operating without a health permit and/or city license.
Jim Roberts, environmental health director for the health district, said the diner does not face a fine along with the permit-reinstatement fee.
City Attorney Fred Stavins said Wednesday that no city fine has been assessed against Merry-Ann’s at this time.
“Like most cases, the city is more interested in compliance,” he said.
Merry-Ann’s posted on Facebook that it would be open New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day for carry-out and delivery. But as of the end of the day Wednesday, it didn’t have its health permit or city license reinstated, according to health district Administrator Julie Pryde.
In another development Wednesday, the health district reinstated the its permit for American Legion Post 71, 107 N. Broadway, U, which had also been suspended for indoor service.
Its leaders have agreed to comply with the ban on indoor service, Pryde said.