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Oakland County Gun Range Restaurant Reopens, Defying Michigan Executive Order

Molly Pitcher’s is serving “freedom burgers”

Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

An Oakland County restaurant has reopened in defiance of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders partially closing non-essential businesses for in-person service. Molly Pitcher’s Lounge, a restaurant dining room inside a Lyon Township shooting range, began dine-in service again on Thursday with “freedom burgers” and “essential burgers” on the menu.

Molly Pitcher’s is among several businesses statewide that have opened in protest of state executive orders designed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 5,000 people in Michigan since mid-March. The largest number of cases and deaths is centered in Southeast Michigan including Oakland and Wayne County.

Ed Swadish owns Huron Valley Guns and Molly Pitcher’s. He initially closed the restaurant to help flatten the curve in Michigan, acknowledging to Hometown Life that COVID-19 is “very real and sad.” Still, he feels that the state’s cautious reopening process is political and putting his business in danger.

Molly Pitcher’s is reopening with social distancing precautions, including spacing tables out six to 10 feet. Between five and six people work at the restaurant and will be wearing N95 masks and gloves. Customer are not required to wear masks indoors. Swadish told Hometown Life that people disagree with dining out should stay home:

This is America, so if you are concerned with your health or you’re high risk for something, we ask that you don’t come to our establishment

Restaurants and bars throughout Michigan are under orders to close for dine-in service through May 28, with the exception of regions of Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula that were given approval to loosen restrictions on restaurants and bars starting Friday. Those venues may open at 50 percent of their former seating capacity with proper social distancing and a safety plan for reopening that includes staff training.

The governor has also begun to roll back some restrictions for gatherings and announced a timeline for allowing car dealerships and retail stores across the state to reopen by-appointment. Non-essential medical and dental procedures will also be allowed to resume under plans announced in a press conference on Thursday morning.

Even so, Whitmer has continued to face pushback from a vocal minority in the state who’ve held several widely publicized protests at the capitol in Lansing. Many of those individuals have refused to follow social distancing precautions and brandished automatic weapons.

The governor’s office has made moves in some cases to revoke business licenses for owners who choose not to follow the executive orders,

Eater has reached out to the governor’s office for comment regarding the restaurant’s reopening and will update this story if we hear back.

Eater is tracking the impact of the novel coronavirus on the local food industry. Have a story to share? Reach out at

Huron Valley Guns Restaurant, Lyon Fireworks Store to Reopen in Defiance of State Order [Hometown Life]
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Restaurants and Bars in Northern Michigan, Upper Peninsula Can Reopen on May 22 [ED]