The co-owner of Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk Rock N’ Roll Steakhouse in Nashville is refusing to shutter his business, despite the city’s mayor ordering all bars and restaurants to close, Yahoo Celebrity reports. Co-owner Steve Smith calls the order “unconstitutional.”
On Sunday, Davidson County’s Metro Board of Health voted unanimously during a special emergency meeting to declare a public health emergency. One of the outcomes of that meeting was an endorsement of Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s suggestion to close all bars and restaurants in Davidson County in order to stem the tide of coronavirus.
Steve Smith, who co-owns the establishment bearing Kid Rock’s name, isn’t having it. He said in a statement that, since the order came not from the governor of Tennessee but from the mayor of Nashville, it’s an unconstitutional order and he won’t follow it.
“The request made by Mayor Cooper is unconstitutional as he is targeting a select group of businesses,” Smith said.
Smith, who owns or co-owns two other Nashville businesses — Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and The Diner — noted that one of his Tootsie’s customers claimed to have lived through the polio epidemic and “didn’t recall such extreme measures being handed down in history.”
Whether or not the mayor’s order is constitutional, or enforceable, would likely have to be decided by a court. Yet, Los Angeles health care law attorney Harry Nelson was clear that he believes Smith is in the wrong.
“Nashville Mayor John Cooper is lawfully issuing directives based on the Chief Medical Director’s recommendation… These closures are constitutional,” he said, adding that “lives are at stake” and noting that closing down public spaces is critical to stopping the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Kid Rock himself may be healthy, but other people who need care will pay a price for [the] decision,” Nelson said.
Should a statewide order come down and Smith, and by extension, Kid Rock, continue to defy it, they could potentially wind up behind bars, Nelson added.
Kid Rock, real name Robert Ritchie, for his part, hasn’t commented on the situation.
On Saturday, hours before Nashville and county authorities made the decision to shut down bars, the city’s Lower Broadway tourist district was packed with revelers, drawing consternation from commenters who noted that now is not the time to be hanging out in crowded spaces.
As of this writing, according to Murfreesboro’s WGNS-TV, Tennessee has 52 active cases of COVID-19, the disease that derives from the novel coronavirus.