Documentary to focus on Holland restaurant owner jailed for defying COVID orders

Marlena’s Bistro was eventually shut down and Pavlos-Hackney spent several nights in jail for violating the government’s order to stop serving food.

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HOLLAND, Michigan — The Holland restaurant owner who went to jail for refusing to follow state COVID-19 guidelines, will now be the focus of a documentary. 

Marlena Pavlos-Hackney kept her restaurant, Marlena’s Bistro, open during the height of the pandemic, because she didn’t agree with the restrictions.

Her restaurant was eventually shut down and she spent several nights in jail for violating the government’s order to stop serving food. Eventually the restaurant was allowed to re-open about six months later.

Holland filmmaker, Kent Esmeier, decided her story was worth telling. 

“It’s a good feeling of accomplishment,” he said, “and I hope a lot of people enjoy the story whether or not you believe in what she did. I think people are going to get to know Marlena a little better and understand where she was coming from.”

Esmeier teamed up with another supporter of Marlena’s named Ken Beyer, who ultimately became the documentary’s executive producer. 

“I believe she did was right, and if people don’t like it, they didn’t have to go to her restaurant,” Beyer said. “It’s the same thing with the video. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.”

‘Stand With Marlena’ is available now for pre-order, but will officially be released on March 18th, which is exactly a year since her arrest in 2021.

Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the federal orders to close indoor dining and wearing masks did slow the spread of COVID-19 and decrease rates of death due to the virus. 

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