Shawnee County health officials plan to enforce health order Saturday, hand out orders to violators

Local News

SHAWNEE COUNTY, Kan. (KSNT) – Local health officials will patrol Shawnee County looking for bars and restaurants open past 9 p.m. and violating the current health order beginning Saturday night.

Shawnee County Commissioner Kevin Cook told KSNT News health officials will hand out written orders to businesses in violation in order for them to stop. If they do not comply, businesses are subject to a citation sent to the Shawnee County District Attorney’s Office. If again they do not comply, the business will be shut down.

“When you see a lot of businesses not complying, that’s very disappointing, that’s very disheartening and very impactful on how it will effect our public health,” Cook said.

Debbie Maichel, owner of Speck’s Bar & Grill in Topeka, said she is following the order. However, it is coming with concern, like how to keep her business afloat with shorter hours.

“Bills still go on, our property tax. It’s really tough,” Maichel said. “Midnight, I really had no problem with, 9 o’clock’s a little bit tougher.”

Since the pandemic began, Maichel has lost 40% of her business and expects this to make an even larger dent, she said.

However, she plans to keep complying with the order due to local health officials enforcing the rule, she said.

Commissioner Cook said Topeka Police Chief Bill Cochran drove around the area on Friday until the early morning on Saturday looking for bars and restaurants violating the current health order.

Chief Cochran identified three primary businesses that pose the largest health risk because of crowd size:

  • Abigail’s Grill & Bar
  • Kickstart Saloon
  • Dugout

Chief Cochran also found these businesses in violation of the health order:

  • Happy Basset Brewing Co.
  • Skinny’s Sports Bar & Grill
  • Gayle’s

“I can assure [you] that we are and will continue to follow any current mandates, as well as those in the future,” said Sarah McGaughey, general manager of Happy Basset Brewing Co. “We have cancelled just about all of our events and are focusing on keeping both our employees and out community safe and healthy.”

The owner of Gayle’s did not wish to comment.

The owner of Skinny’s Sports Bar & Grill said he misunderstood the order, and that he plans to follow it moving forward.

KSNT News has reached out to all other establishments accused of breaking the order, but have not heard back from them.

The order lasts until Dec. 15, then county commissioners will re-evaluate their plans.

This is a developing story and will be updated as we discover more.

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