Skip to main Content

Facing hefty fines, Anchorage diner closes for dine-in after defying pandemic emergency order

Customers wait outside Kriner's Diner on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020 in Anchorage. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

The owner of an Anchorage diner that defied the mayor’s emergency order and stayed open for dine-in service last week — and continued even after a court order to stop — announced that the restaurant is now closed for dine-in service in the face of hefty fines.

Andy Kriner, who owns the diner with his wife, Norann, made the announcement Sunday evening in a video posted to the diner’s public Facebook page. In the video, filmed at a table with his family, Kriner said the restaurant does not have enough money to continue to pay daily fines, which could soon become much larger.

The city filed a motion Saturday asking for a contempt of court hearing after the business disobeyed the temporary injunction issued Friday by a state judge. The injunction ordered the diner to follow the emergency order and halt dine-in service. Kriner’s Diner then opened for dine-in on Saturday but closed Sunday.

In its motion, the city is seeking to fine the diner $5,000 a day for violating the court order, on top of fines for violating the emergency order. The city, which is also asking for sanctions against Kriner’s attorney, is also seeking $1,430 in attorney fees. A contempt of court hearing is set for 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The judge at Tuesday’s hearing will determine the actual amount of the fines, Carolyn Hall, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office, said in an email. The diner could be fined $15,000 for opening its dine-in service Saturday — a $5,000 fine for each of the owners and the attorney.

“He could issue fines of $5,000 against each person or a single $5,000 fine against them jointly or do something else entirely,” Hall wrote.

In a response to the contempt of court motion that was filed with the court by the Kriner’s attorney, Blake Quackenbush, Quackenbush wrote that a sanction of $15,000 a day is “unreasonable” and would “effectively bankrupt the Kriners if granted by the court.”

The city ordered bars and restaurants to close to dine-in service last week to limit the spread of the coronavirus, which had been spiking in the city in recent weeks.

Kriner told the Daily News in an interview last week that he received an outpouring of support for keeping the diner open in defiance of Emergency Order 15, and customers were lined up out the door on Saturday.

A message from the Kriner Family to yours! #Alaska #Anchorage #Diner #FamilyOwned

Posted by Kriner's Diner on Sunday, August 9, 2020

Mayor Ethan Berkowitz issued the order, which went into effect last Monday and closed all restaurants and breweries for dine-in service, allowing only outdoor service and takeout, and closed all bars to all service.

Many customers gave Kriner donations to pay the city’s fines, Kriner said last week. That money will go toward paying the fines incurred for remaining open Saturday, Kriner said in the video.

“First of all, this last week was completely overwhelming,” Kriner said. “The support from the community — hard to even explain to people. Just want to thank everybody for coming down and you know people handing us money every day.”

Kriner’s attorney also wrote in the court document that Kriner declined to comply with the obligations imposed by the Friday court order, and said that Kriner did so “based on a good-faith belief that no valid obligation exists because EO-15 is unconstitutional.”

Kriner’s Diner is one of just a few businesses in Anchorage to defy the mayor’s order. The city also sought a temporary injunction from the court against Little Dipper Diner that a judge granted during a hearing Monday.

• • •