She says the state of Minnesota destroyed her financially after she chose to keep her business open for 14 days during the COVID-19 lockdowns mandated by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.
Lisa Zarza spoke out on the latest episode of Liz Collin Reports about how she’s starting over in a new state.
Zarza owned Alibi Bar and Drinkery in Lakeville and Alibi at Froggy Bottoms in Northfield when, in November of 2020, Gov. Walz issued an executive order and shut down her businesses.
Zarza chose to keep her business open for 14 days and defy the executive order.
“I was in the south metro for 30 years. That’s where I built my business. That’s where I owned a few different restaurants. That’s where all my contacts were. That’s all my connections. I was very integrated into the cities,” Zarza said.
“When the shutdown came down, the first time that we shut down, I closed and followed all the mandates in March of, it was March of 2020, March 17, and we closed. We followed all the mandates. We reopened safely. Then, in about October, I started hearing rumblings that maybe it wasn’t exactly what they said it was and things weren’t as dire as they put it to the regular population. There was herd immunity, there were ways to keep yourself safe that didn’t mean isolating an entire population,” Zarza recalled.
“So when the state decided to close us down Nov. 20 for the second shutdown … we decided to open against the mandates,” she said.
“The executive order said that you were subject to fines and you were subject to some penalties with your licensing until you comply … The Minnesota Department of Health took my liquor or my food service license. First, they suspended it, then they refused to issue it in 2021. They gave me a five-year revocation of my liquor license, so it was deemed that I could not have a liquor license in the state of Minnesota for five years,” Zarza said.
“Essentially, me losing my liquor or my food license is essentially what caused my business to close because you can’t open without a food license,” she explained.
“I never failed an inspection. I never failed anything. I had no liquor violations, nothing. And I had both of my licenses taken away,” she added.
One of Zarza’s businesses was vandalized in the aftermath of her decision to stay open.
“I had racial slurs, Nazi slurs, directed at me, vulgar. We also had urine and feces thrown at our back door. They vandalized our entire building, spray painted it,” she said.
‘Rough for everyone’
In the course of one of its lawsuits against Zarza, the state claimed she used the company’s accounts for personal expenses and violated the Minnesota Uniform Voidable Transfers Act, which she addressed during the interview.
“We had a lawsuit with Dakota County from the attorney general, we finally settled it. Well, we didn’t settle it. They found me guilty, assessed over a $300,000 fine. So basically, I want to say I had $19,000 in actual fines for violating the executive order. It was upwards, I believe, of $160,000 for the attorney general’s fees for them to litigate against me,” she explained.
“We were very, very stringent on how we used our funds with our company. If it was a personal expense, it was deemed personal. It was taken out, it was slotted into a shareholder payout, taxes were paid on it. It wasn’t a write-off for the company. We also had been notified by our lawyer that they were going to be clearing out, freezing our bank accounts. So, before they froze our bank accounts, we cleared out our business bank accounts,” Zarza said.
She said for the entire year the Department of Health never traced a single case of COVID-19 back to her restaurant.
Alpha News reached out to both the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office for comment but did not hear back.
Zarza also addressed multiple criminal incidents involving her boyfriend and business partner, Ricardo Baldazo.
“COVID was rough for everyone. Every single person in the United States, in the world, was affected. Some were affected with mental illness. Some were affected with addictions. He happened to be one of them. He was struggling mentally and he needed help from the police and called the police and called 911 for help. They arrived, he did not know that they arrived, and he thought somebody was trying to hurt him. So, he fired the gun. He was charged with two attempted murders of a police officer. Three years later, all charges were dismissed against him. It wasn’t about the police officer; it was about mental illness, it was about addiction, and he, all of his charges, except for a discharge of a firearm, have officially been dismissed — not plea bargained down, nothing,” she said.
Baldazo also got in trouble with the law after hitting a Jimmy John’s worker across the face. Zarza said the worker told her she needed to wear a mask before ordering a sandwich and when she refused, she said he called her names. Baldazo then “smacked him across the face,” Zarza said.
“We haven’t actually been able to speak about this until this past July also, because that was part of the joining of all the cases against him. I told the story to quite a few people and I think that if anyone had somebody call their wife or their girlfriend the names he was saying to me, he probably would have got smacked too,” she added.
Zarza has since started over in Wisconsin. She owns and operates Outpost Bar and Grill in Bay City, Wis., right across the border from Red Wing.
“I opened a bar with no money, was able to borrow a little bit of money to be able to get my inventory and stuff like that. And I’ve been there for two years. I love it. I love the community. I love everything about it. It’s a tiny town, 442 people, amazing people that I’ve met,” she said.
“But it’s also not home. I worked in the metro area for 30 years. I knew everyone in the Twin Cities. It didn’t matter where I go, where I went, I knew somebody. So, I bought a bar in the town that I could legally have a license in their state. I had to start over and I bought a bar where I did not know one single person, this tiny little bar, and have met a lot of amazing people there, but it was a struggle. Every day I was scared. I didn’t know if I was going to make it or not, but I just woke up every day and drove an hour to work and came home and drove an hour home and I’ve been doing it for two years,” she said.
Zarza said before all this happened, she couldn’t even name the governor of Minnesota. She considered herself just a business owner and not a political person. Knowing what she knows now, she said she doesn’t regret it morally.
“It was a moral decision. It was exactly what I should have done. I regret losing everything,” she said. “I thought I was going to get fined. I was willing to get a fine. I was willing to do jail time. That’s what the executive order said. It didn’t say that they were going to destroy my life, destroy my business partner’s life, take everything that we’ve worked for for 30 years and take it away from us.”