Judge orders utilities shut off at defiant ABQ restaurant - Albuquerque Journal

Judge orders utilities shut off at defiant ABQ restaurant

A sign on the front patio of the Backstreet Grill. A judge on Tuesday ordered utilities shut off at the restaurant. (Mike Sandoval/For the Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

A judge on Monday ordered water, gas and electrical services shut off at an Albuquerque restaurant that remained open over the weekend despite a court order last week that it cease operations.

State District Judge Nancy Franchini took the step after Backstreet Grill continued operations Saturday and Sunday in defiance of her order Friday that the restaurant stop serving food and beverages.

Backstreet Grill, 1919 Old Town Road NW, has operated for months in defiance of city- and state-ordered COVID-19 health rules. The city’s Environmental Health Department revoked the restaurant’s health permit earlier this year.

The dispute centers on a failure by restaurant employees to wear masks or face coverings in the workplace, as required by the state’s Public Health Order and COVID-19 Safe Practices.

No one at the restaurant answered the phone Tuesday. Backstreet’s attorney, Ana Garner, also did not respond Tuesday to a voice message requesting comment.

Mark DiMenna, acting director of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department, said he learned of Franchini’s order late Tuesday.

At a hearing Friday, the city asked Franchini to order the shut-off if the restaurant continued to operate.

The judge said Friday that she would give the restaurant an opportunity to cease operations before taking additional steps, DiMenna said.

“We were asked by the judge to make her aware if they continued to operate,” he said. The city had not notified the court that Backstreet remained open Saturday and Sunday, he said. Backstreet is ordinarily closed Monday and Tuesday.

Backstreet has operated without a city-issued food service permit since May 6.

The preliminary injunction Franchini issued Monday ordered Public Service Company of New Mexico, New Mexico Gas Co. and the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority to “immediately discontinue service” to the restaurant.


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