Now, the Arizona Department of Health Services has said that the Chandler bar and restaurant cannot reopen, all because of the liquor license the establishment holds.
"The problem is that people don’t understand it," Grant said. "They don’t understand that it's not about saying, 'I think that I should be open.' It's about telling people that there are businesses that are identical to me that are open, and there are businesses that are half my size with no patios that are packed wall to wall that are open. And we just aren't allowed to be open because of the kind of license we have."
Jolie's Place first opened with a Series 12 liquor license but has held a Series 6 liquor license since the first year the business was open. That Series 6 license—now only available via a lottery—allows a bar retailer to sell and serve all types of liquors to be consumed at the bar and allows a retailer with to-go privileges, such as Jolie's, to sell liquor, according to the Arizona Department of Liquor.
In an executive order, Gov. Doug Ducey shut down bars with a Series 6 liquor license, allowing restaurants and bars with other licenses to remain open.
Grant said she had made the difficult decision to close Jolie's Place even before the governor's order as she saw the number of COVID-19 cases rising across the state. Because Jolie's Place was closed when the order went into effect, Grant needed to seek permission from the Arizona Department of Health Services to reopen. The department denied her request in a letter she shared on social media.
"It wasn't just a bunch of Scottsdale nightclubs that got shut down; there are mom-and-pop restaurants like us that just have the different license that now can't open back up," Grant said.
A spokesperson from the Arizona Department of Health Services told Community Impact Newspaper that applications from bars that serve food are treated on a case-by-case basis and not on the basis of liquor license status. The spokesperson said examples from approved applications include operating as a restaurant at less than 25% capacity or while allowing fewer than five customers, setting modified hours such as a 10 p.m. closure, or requiring the purchase of food with the purchase of alcoholic beverages.
Businesses that receive denials may request an informal settlement conference with ADHS to discuss this decision as well as whether there are conditions under which they may reopen before a county's business benchmarks reach moderate transmission stage, according to the spokesperson.
"I just want the ability to be open like other Series 6- and Series 12-licensed places," Grant said. "I want to be open, and I want the chance to do it right. We took out a storage unit and put half our furniture in there. Before there was a capacity guideline, we chose to open at 50% capacity and hired two security guards and had them at the door to make sure someone was policing capacity. We had all the PPE, all the sanitizers—everything money could buy, I bought. I did everything possibly that I could do right, and to be penalized and vilified—I can't even tell you how that feels. It feels horrible."
Grant said that she will not risk losing her license, but seeing bars and restaurants with a Series 12 license open around her and, in some cases, choose to pack people inside and sidestep guidelines set by the state is frustrating.
A Series 12 license allows the holder of a restaurant license to sell and serve all types of spirituous liquor solely for consumption on the premises of an establishment that derives at least 40% of its gross revenue from the sale of food, according to the Arizona Department of Liquor.
"What is the difference between me and the bar down the road?" Grant asked. "What makes them less likely to get people sick, or more likely to keep people safe, than me?"
Grant said she has been writing letters to the governor's office and to other local elected officials for weeks to get answers, to find a way to reopen Jolie's Place and to get her more than 30 employees back to work.
"We aren't just a bar," Grant said. "And to just reduce and vilify us because of the liquor license we hold isn't fair. My goal is not to see anyone close; I just want to be able to do exactly what they are doing. That's it."