Kid Rock’s Honky Tonk restaurant was cited for violating Tennessee health ordinances upon reopening, but the operator of the establishment plans to fight the citation, claiming it is “selective prosecution.”
A photo from inside the downtown Nashville bar showed hundreds patrons not following social distancing guidelines or wearing masks as they packed inside to listen to music Friday night, the Tennessean reported.
Metro Public Health Department Director Dr. Michael Caldwell reportedly delivered the citation to the establishment on Saturday for “serving people that were seated at the bar and for not observing proper social distancing inside the establishment” after receiving a complaint the previous night.
According to Nashville guidelines, restaurants and stores may reopen with 75 percent capacity as part of Phase Two, albeit while adhering to certain social distancing and facial covering guidelines. Bars that don’t serve food and clubs have not been permitted to reopen.
Venues that allow live music are allowed to operate with a reduced capacity, and patrons and employees must practice social distancing and wear facial coverings. However, no dance floors are permitted and performers must play at a volume that still allows for employees and patrons to converse while keeping six feet of distance between them.
The establishment was said to have been in violation of Order 6, which requires restaurants to provide seats a proper distance away from each other, and to adhere to social distancing guidelines. The use of dance floors is also prohibited.
However, Steve Smith, owner of Kid Rock’s Honky Tonk, as well as Tootsie, Rippy’s and Honky Tonk Central, told the Tennessean that he plans to fight back, claiming the citation was “selective prosecution,” via a statement from his legal counsel, Brian Lewis. The restaurant has cited the Black Lives Matter protests as reason behind its claim.
"We find it very unfair that Mayor (John) Cooper can encourage thousands of people to march with him in violation of his own phases, but he wants to hold the Nashville business community hostage," Lewis said to the outlet. "We're sick of it… It is so unfair. It’s a double standard being applied to us, and we’re tired of it."
Lewis claimed the Honky Tonk, which was one of 13 Nashville businesses cited over the weekend, had been administering temperature checks and all employees were wearing masks. Still, Lewis added, "In our opinion, all Mayor Cooper's phases were gone when he violated his own phases."
Previously, the mayor had reportedly attended a rally where people were protesting the death of George Floyd on May 25 while in the custody of Minneapolis police officers.
Cooper has also defended the right to protest for his residents — including the protests against coronavirus shelter-in-place orders — as long as they maintain social distancing and wear masks. Many of those protesting for the Black Lives Matter cause were wearing masks, the Tennessean reports.
The fine amount the business will face has yet to be determined.