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Anchorage diner that defied emergency pandemic order asks Alaska Supreme Court for review

Little Dipper Diner in Anchorage on Aug. 10, 2020. (Emily Mesner / ADN)

An Anchorage diner that defied the city’s August emergency order halting indoor dining is continuing to question the constitutionality of the order, asking the Alaska Supreme Court to reject a lower court decision upholding it.

Little Dipper Diner was one of several businesses that defied the municipality’s Emergency Order 15, which ordered restaurants to halt indoor service for a “four-week reset” to combat rising numbers of COVID-19 cases within the city. The emergency order took effect Aug. 3 and ended Aug. 30.

The diner initially closed to indoor dining, but the owners announced Aug. 4 on Facebook that they would reopen the next day for dine-in service, saying, “We just will not survive this month of closure after the last one.” The municipality issued a stop-work order to the diner when it opened Aug. 5.

On Aug. 10, Superior Court Judge Erin Marston ruled that Little Dipper Diner must comply with the mandate and stop dine-in service. The diner resumed takeout-only service that week.

Blake Quackenbush, the attorney representing the diner and owners Samantha and Dewey Wells, filed a motion asking the court to reconsider. He argued that the emergency order violated his clients' constitutional right to work and that there was no evidence of irreparable harm caused by keeping the business fully open.

After the motion was denied in late September, Quackenbush filed a petition for review in the state Supreme Court.

The diner resumed in-person services at a reduced capacity on Aug. 31 when a new emergency order was issued.

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