The Depot

Inside The Depot bar in Cerro Gordo on Friday (May 22), as it reopened for the first time since the COVID-19 shutdown on March 16.

A Cerro Gordo bar opened up Friday in defiance of the governor's executive orders, holding what the owner called an “Anti-Coronavirus Party” that attracted a good sized crowd inside the establishment.

Bars and restaurants had been shuttered since March 16 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Governor J.B. Pritzker did announce that outdoor seating would be allowed in Phase 3 of his reopening plan, which is expected to occur on May 29.

The Depot Owner Mark Kaufman said he obtained legal counsel that advised him he could open. Kaufman said his attorney also sent complaints to the Illinois Department of Health with no response.

“As a whole, America needs to step up and do what is right and do what is best,” said Kaufman. “Everyone came willingly.”

The bar easily had more than 50 people within the first few hours of it being open. The information spread like wildfire across social media and amongst friends. Both Kaufman and bartender Amanda Rincker donned their normal Depot bartending t-shirts, except Rincker added a statement of derision for the governor on the back.

That seemed to be the resounding message from all patrons.

Emily Mentzer, a resident of Cerro Gordo, stated she came out “to support that Pritzker sucks.” and is “not worried.”

Anthony Good, another Cerro Gordo resident, said “I have no fear.”

Matthew Reeves added he was “tired of being in lockdown.”

“I have been dying to come out for a long time,” said Amy Wagoner, who took a furlough at work and remained at home for 14 days to be safe.

“I know I’m not sick, I trust other people to stay home. If I were sick, I would not be here,” she said.

There were no masks present, and no social distancing guidelines. It was as if nothing had happened. When asked if he was concerned about that, Kaufman stated, “it's’s not a law, everyone is in here willingly.” Kaufman added, “I would like to thank everyone that came out and showed support.”

The Depot had a DJ present as well for its re-opening.

As far as whether or not he sees the State taking action on his choice to reopen his establishment in defiance defying the Governor’s Executive order, Kaufman says he has “no fear” of the state closing him up.