Kendrick brewery opens its doors

Mike Maness, of Lewiston, holds a sign at the Hardware Brewing Co. in Kendrick. The business reopened to sit-down customers on May 1 even though Gov. Brad Little’s order still restricts restaurants to curbside and delivery sales.

Hardware Brewing in Kendrick is one of five bars and taverns in Idaho facing potential fines or suspensions for allegedly violating the state’s coronavirus shutdown order.

Morgan Lohman, whose family runs the brew pub, said they were given the choice between a $2,500 fine or 45-day suspension of their liquor license.

“We will not accept either and are working with our lawyer,” he said in an email message.

The Alcohol Beverage Control Division of the Idaho State Police sent similar letters to four other businesses across the state earlier this month. The agency declined to name the establishments, saying any violations are still allegations.

Hardware Brewing, however, was very open about defying Gov. Brad Little’s March 25 stay-home order, which in an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus deemed bars and taverns to be “nonessential,” along with a wide variety of other businesses. They were supposed to remain closed until the end of May, when the state advanced to Phase 3 of its four-phase economic reopening plan.

Hardware Brewing reopened nearly a month prior to that, on May 1, with great fanfare. Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin and Idaho Republican Party Chairman Raul Labrador attended the event, as did state Sen. Dan Johnson and state Rep. Mike Kingsley, both of Lewiston.

Alcohol Beverage Control subsequently sent the Lohmans a letter, indicating that continued defiance of the stay-home order could result in penalties.

In an email message to the Tribune, a state police spokesman noted that the agency “received approximately two dozen reports of possible violations scattered throughout the state” during the time the stay-home order was in effect. After notifying them of possible enforcement actions, “many establishments chose to comply” with the order.

Morgan Lohman’s mother, Christine, runs the brew pub. She did not respond to email or phone messages seeking additional comment.

In what the state police say was an unrelated move, the agency’s Region 2 office served a search warrant on the business on May 22, seeking information related to a prior motorcycle accident. Morgan Lohman said that issue is “still pending.”

Spence may be contacted at bspence@lmtribune.com or (208) 791-9168.

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