Michigan restaurant owner arrested after defying Covid-19 orders, attorney general says

A Michigan restaurant owner was arrested after she disregarded state Covid-19 protocols and ignored a court order, the state’s top prosecutor said Friday.

Marlena Pavlos-Hackney, 55, of Holland, was taken into custody by Michigan State Police about 5:45 a.m. EDT, according to a statement from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Pavlos-Hackney, the owner of Marlena’s Bistro and Pizzeria, had been given until Thursday to turn herself in after a warrant was issued for her arrest, Nessel said.

Marlena Pavlos-Hackney, owner of Marlena's Bistro and Pizzeria in Holland, Mich.

Marlena Pavlos-Hackney, owner of Marlena’s Bistro and Pizzeria in Holland, Mich.


“This owner has continued to willfully violate the state’s food laws, public health orders and the order of the court — a dangerous act that may have exposed dozens of diners and employees to the virus following the discovery that one of Marlena’s customers tested positive for the virus within two days of eating there,” Nessel said in a statement.

The state and restaurant have been at odds for months over Covid-19 protocols.

Back in mid-November at the height of the fall spike, the state’s Department of Health and Human Services banned indoor dining at restaurants in hopes of slowing the virus’ spread.

Pavlos-Hackney kept Marlena’s Bistro open, even posting a sign at the front door that read: “Welcome. We are a Constitutionally Compliant Business. We are not infringing on anyone’s inalienable rights. By law, we do not follow any of the governor’s, mayor’s, health department’s, or other government agency orders or suggestions pertaining to social distancing or mask wearing.”

Marlena's Bistro and Pizzeria in Holland, Mich.

Marlena’s Bistro and Pizzeria in Holland, Mich.

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The restaurant said that, “Your health is your responsibility.”

Marlena’s Bistro’s license was suspended on Jan. 20 for breaking Covid-19 public health orders but the business kept operating, the attorney general said. A judge upheld that order on Feb. 1, prosecutors said.

Pavlos-Hackney was booked at Ingham County Jail and she was scheduled to make her first apperance before a judge Friday afternoon.

Marlena’s Bistro remained open as of Friday morning despite the owner’s arrest. An employee who picked up the phone declined to comment on behalf of the restaurant.

It wasn’t immediately clear on Friday if Pavlos-Hackney had hired a lawyer.