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A Freeport restaurant owner has opened his business for dine-in service in defiance of Gov. Janet Mills’ order prohibiting that in three counties amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Petrillo’s in Freeport opened for both dine-in and outdoor seating last Thursday. Dominic Petrillo, owner and chef of Petrillo’s, said four complaints have been filed with the state in less than a week, but he doesn’t regret his decision.
Petrillo said his business will not survive only on curbside and outdoor service.
“You’ve got to account for wind, rain, for people who don’t want to sit outside because of allergies,” Petrillo said. “We’re in a situation where we need to make money or we’ll be closing the doors.”
That is why Petrillo is going against the governor’s orders, and he insists he is not compromising customer safety.
“We have our tables spaced, plexishields at the bar, our servers are masking up,” Petrillo said.
Mills initially said that all restaurants in the state could reopen earlier this month, but later delayed restaurants from opening in Androscoggin, Cumberland and York counties, where the highest concentrations of coronavirus cases have been reported. On Monday, the owners of four restaurants in southern Maine counties still under a shutdown order, but located near rural counties that have already opened dining rooms to customers, sued the governor in York County Superior Court, asking a judge to allow them to open immediately.
They claim they are facing permanent closure because of the governor’s shutdown.
Petrillo said he understands why some people disagree with his decision, but isn’t changing his actions.
“I don’t hold it against anybody that they disagree with me, or they think I’m in the wrong for violating the executive order, but I’m really mostly grateful for the people that supported me,” Petrillo said.
Petrillo said Cumberland County’s health inspector has reached out to him, but he doesn’t know what will happen next.
Petrillo’s will reopen for dine-in services Thursday after spending two days cleaning the facility.
BDN writer Judy Harrison contributed to this report.