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 recently even though Gov. Brad Little’s order still restricts restaurants to curbside and delivery sales.

Hardware Brewing Co. of Kendrick continued to defy Gov. Brad Little’s “Stay Healthy” order Saturday and Sunday, despite a written warning from the Idaho State Police that the establishment could lose its alcohol beverage license as a result.

The business was open during the weekend, and the owners described their defiance as a stand for freedom that is being embraced by customers from near and far. Christine Lohman, who owns the eatery with her husband, Doug, called various stay-home orders across the country martial law and said COVID-19 is no different than the flu and only dangerous to the infirm and aged.

“Hundreds and hundreds of people are coming to Hardware Brewing Co.,” Lohman said Saturday. “They are not coming to buy a hamburger. We have a tiny grill and one fryer. The food wait-time is up to two hours. The public knows it, but they are coming to exercise their liberty and to be able to talk to each other without hiding their faces in fear. This whole stand is about liberty.”

The establishment opened May 1 to fanfare. Politicians like Republican Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin of Idaho Falls, state Sen. Dan Johnson, R-Lewiston, state Rep. Mike Kingsley, R-Lewiston, and Idaho GOP chairman and former U.S. congressman for Idaho’s 1st District Raul Labrador were there.

On Friday, the Lohmans were sent a warning letter from Capt. Brad Doty of the Idaho State Police, indicating if they continue to operate they could lose their license to serve beer and wine. Lohman said she’s concerned about the letter, but would rather protest than give in.

“We don’t want to lose our business, but the governor was forcing us to lose it anyway by a slow, quiet death, or we can voice our constitutional right to speak out,” Lohman said.

Eric Barker may be contacted at ebarker@lmtribune.com. Anthony Kuipers of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, akuipers@dnews.com, contributed to this report.

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