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Kentucky Coffee Shop Defies Covid Orders As Line Of Supportive Customers Stretches Out The Door

“I have more to gain by resisting than I do to comply.”
hot beverage on a wood cafe table
Erik Von Weber/Getty Images

A coffee shop in central Kentucky received an outpouring of support on Wednesday after its owner refused to obey state and county orders aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, the line of customers “stretched out the door” at times and at least one customer waited an hour.

“Haven’t tasted the coffee yet but it smells like freedom in here,” tweeted Jimmy Hazlett from the scene. “Love this with all my heart.”

Officials from the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department had ordered the Brewed coffee shop to close on Tuesday for refusing to discontinue in-person dining, a violation of a previous statewide emergency order issued by Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear last week.

But Andrew Cooperrider, who owns the establishment, chose to continue operating as normal instead.

“I asked what would happen if I keep serving,” Cooperrider told The Herald-Leader, adding that the health inspectors did not answer his question.

“The worst that could happen is we close…I go to jail for a bit,” he said. “What am I facing now, locked up inside my house with losing my business…I have more to gain by resisting than I do to comply.”

Word of the controversy began to circulate throughout the region after the shop’s Facebook page posted an image of the shutdown notice with the caption, “Untill (sic) we are pulled out in handcuffs you can come get your coffee at Brewed.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Brewed told its social media followers that it had run out of food and had not anticipated such “overwhelming support.” The Kentucky Alcohol Beverage Control later issued an emergency license suspension for the shop.

“This was expected,” a post on Brewed’s Facebook page read, adding, “We didn’t even order beer this week.”

Another post indicated the shop would be closed on Thanksgiving but vowed to open again on Friday.

As the Lexington Herald-Leader previously reported:

Cooperrider said that he is willing to comply if the government would “pause the business,” with a pause on rent and other bills so that he will not lose the coffee shop. He said he lost his Dean’s Diner in Wilmore in June after the first shutdown.

“I would like the end result to be that we stop having arbitrariness to it. … Put us in a position where we can succeed,” he said. “Back in January I was a millionaire. Now I’m on food stamps. … I understand about us dying but I care about us living.”

Reaction from customers was mixed with some indicating they would not come there again while others voiced encouragement.

The outlet also cites Cooperrider’s Facebook page, which reportedly says he is an official with the Libertarian Party of Kentucky.

New COVID-19 restrictions took effect last week after the state experienced a rise in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Gov. Beshear said the ban on indoor dining was not intended to hurt businesses, explaining, “this virus spreads where people congregate and take off their masks.”

On Wednesday, Bashear announced 3,408 new cases in Kentucky, up from 2,690 the day before. It is the third-highest single-day increase in the state since the pandemic began. The governor has asked people to keep Thanksgiving social gatherings as small as possible.

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