In this May 1, 2020, file photo, Rick Savage, the owner of Sunday River Brewing Company, addresses reporters outside of his restaurant. Credit: Charles Eichacker / BDN

The Bethel bar known for repeated violations and criticism of coronavirus safety guidelines is appealing a state decision to not renew its license after it expires Saturday.

Sunday River Brewing Co. has violated state coronavirus guidelines repeatedly during the pandemic, racking up violations, suspensions and fines from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. Owner Rick Savage announced his intent to defy indoor dining restrictions by Gov. Janet Mills on national TV in May.

Two Brothers Inc., the parent company of Sunday River Brewing Co., filed two petitions in Oxford County Superior Court this week. The first challenged $6,600 fines imposed by the health department for continuing to operate under a license suspension, and the second asked for an emergency hearing to freeze the expiration of its license until the state issues a final decision, the Lewiston Sun Journal reported.

Two Brothers wants the Oxford County court to decide whether the state “improperly denied” the restaurant a conditional license or delay the rejection of the renewal request until a final ruling is issued next week.

According to the petition, the health department did not notify Sunday River owners what violations presented a threat to the health and safety of the public to determine that its license was in noncompliance.

Sunday River can’t serve alcohol until Dec. 28 under another ruling issued by the state in early December. The ruling was issued after staff and the owners were found violating COVID-19 protocols nearly 50 times, an Oxford County judge ruled on Dec. 4.

At that hearing, brothers Rick and Ron Savage, the restaurant and brewery’s owners, were ordered to pay $34,000 for the violations dating back to May.

Their lawyer, Edward Dilworth III, told the Sun Journal that the bar has not served alcohol since the Dec. 4 ruling. Its liquor license is expiring around the same time as its restaurant and catering one, and Sunday River has applied for its renewal as well.

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