A Virginia restaurant owner and military veteran who attracted national attention for refusing to comply with former Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) COVID orders had his business raided by police on Friday morning, years after the COVID restrictions were put into place.
Officers entered the restaurant in Fredericksburg, Virginia, on Friday morning to execute a warrant to confiscate alcohol and records pertaining to the sale of alcohol after Virginia’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) revoked the restaurant’s liquor licenses in September 2021.
The restaurant’s owner, Matt Strickland, had his liquor licenses revoked following his refusal to follow COVID mandates — as the ABC ruled that he “willfully and knowingly” ignored the mandates which required staff to wear masks and required individuals within the restaurant to social distance.
The restaurant, Gourmeltz, had allowed customers to sit at the bar during the COVID pandemic without masking or social distancing, in direct violation of the tyrannical mandates.
Gourmeltz lost its health permit in February 2021, though the Attorney General’s Office ultimately dropped all charges against Strickland, and the Department of Health later reinstituted his license.
His permit to sell alcohol, however, was not reinstituted.
While Northam has been out of office for ten months, being replaced by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, the board members that the Democrat governor appointed to the ABC board — including board chair Maria J.K. Everett and board CEO Travis Hill — are apparently keen to continue doing his bidding, meaning carrying out the destruction of Strickland’s business.
While the ABC did issue a stay on their ruling regarding the alcohol license in order to give Strickland time to appeal, the agency ultimately ordered the restaurant to stop selling alcohol for 90 days in November 2022 after a final ruling was issued.
According to WUSA9, the ABC told Strickland that it would reduce the suspension of his license to just 15 days if he paid a $4,000 fine and $6,400 in administrative fees.
Strickland refused to capitulate.
A statement issued on Friday by the ABC revealed that the restauranteur continued to run his business, openly defying their orders.
“The establishment failed to comply with ABC’s Board Order and continued to serve beer, wine and mixed beverages to customers” 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 statement read.
ABC agents, along with members of law enforcement, stormed Gourmeltz on Friday morning to execute a search warrant issued for the restaurant’s sales records and for information related to “possession of alcoholic beverages without a license, maintaining a common nuisance and the illegal sale of alcoholic beverages.”
Strickland confronted the agents and police when they arrived, live-streaming the incident on his personal Facebook page. The video received nearly 400,000 views.
“How do you feel about coming to shut a man’s business down for not following COVID mandates that are unconstitutional? How do you feel about that?” Strickland can be heard asking the officers in the video. “Huh? Just doing your job. Just doing your job. That’s what they said in Germany too, man.”
The video was later shared to Twitter.
This man stayed so calm while filming them. pic.twitter.com/yM4wrmwb6F
— Nashville Angela (@angelanashtn) December 4, 2022
“I don’t trust politicians from either side of the aisle,” Strickland, who is also a candidate for U.S. Senate, said in a separate video posted to Twitter addressing the issue.
“You’re stripping my guests, and my employees, and myself of our constitutional rights and I’m not going to be a part of that,” he said. “I spent a lot of my adult life overseas fighting against dictatorships, and the last thing I was going to do was come home to my country and allow a dictatorship to rule right here.”
— Matt Strickland (@MattForVA) December 5, 2022
Strickland is running against Delegate Tara Durant (R-Fredericksburg) for Virginia’s 27th District state Senate seat. According to The Blaze, “The veteran supports: mitigating government overreach; improving border security; combatting ‘Defund the Police’ rhetoric; ending the scourge of critical race theory and buttressing parental rights; upholding the Second Amendment ‘at all costs’; and lowering taxes.”