Updated: U.P. lawmakers postpone planned coffee hour at cafe ordered to close

    Ad for state Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) and Rep. Greg Markkanen (R-Hancock) coffee hour on Feb. 12 at Cafe Rosetta
    Updated, 3:26 p.m., 2/11/21, with new comments from McBroom and court details

    Two Upper Peninsula lawmakers were planning a coffee hour from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Friday at Cafe Rosetta in Calumet. But the meeting of state Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) and Rep. Greg Markkanen (R-Hancock) could be a violation of a temporary injunction prohibiting the cafe owned by Amy Heikkinen from being open to the public. 

    McBroom said Thursday morning the meeting would still happen, despite the court orders. However, McBroom said in a text at about 2:30 p.m. that the coffee hour at Cafe Rosetta had been “postponed.”*

    Sen. Ed McBroom | Michael Gerstein

    “She’s still open, and she invited us there so we’re still going,” said McBroom in a phone call Thursday morning. 

    He defended his decision to hold the coffee hour in the business that is operating in violation of a court order. 

    “She’s still open and still in some sort of court proceedings,” he said. “I am letting all that play out.”

    He said he does not believe he is encouraging anyone to flout court orders.

    David Kallman, a Delta Township attorney representing Heikkinen, has said the cafe has been closed since Saturday in compliance with the court orders. 

    Heikkinen faced Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Wanda Stokes at 11 a.m. Thursday morning. The hearing was to determine if another contempt of court finding was necessary in the case. 

    She didn’t show up, according to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office. She’s now been ordered to show up at 2 p.m. Friday.* 

    The cafe has continued to operate without a food license since its license was suspended on Dec. 2. Michigan law requires any place offering food for sale have a food license. 

    The restaurant’s continued defiance has already resulted in a contempt finding against Heikkinen.

    After paying $7,500 fine, U.P. eatery hit with contempt order for defying COVID measure

    The coffee hour that was announced Feb. 4 — the same day Cafe Rosetta was appearing before Stokes for a hearing on the eatery’s continued defiance of court orders. 

    Both lawmakers have criticized health orders related to coronavirus. Markkanen called orders to ban indoor dining “misguided,” while McBroom has said the orders “accomplish little” and are “destroying lives.”

    During that Feb. 4 hearing, Heikkinen agreed to shut her doors for at least 15 days. She had been operating since early December without a food license. The food license was suspended by the Michigan Department Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) after local health officials from the Wester Upper Peninsula Health Department issued warnings and cease and desist orders to the cafe for operating indoor dining and not enforcing mask wearing in violation of a Nov. 15 Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) pandemic health order. 

    Despite having her license suspended Dec. 10, Heikkinen continued to operate, resulting in a request on Dec. 30 from attorneys from the office of Attorney General on behalf of MDARD seeking a temporary restraining order to shutter the business. That was issued on Dec. 31. 

    And despite the order, the business continued to operate, so the attorney general’s team sought a contempt of court finding against Heikkinen and Cafe Rosetta. Stokes issued that finding on Jan. 11, and based on a second filing from AG lawyers, she upped the fine from $2,500 to $7,500 for willful contempt of the court. 

    Todd A. Heywood
    Todd Heywood is an award-winning journalist with over 30 years of experience. He's worked in print, online, radio and television. His reporting has been cited by the U.S. House of Representatives as well as in the United Nations reports on HIV. He's an avid vintage Star Wars collector and lives in Lansing with his three dogs.