A Missouri cafe converted itself to a private club with $1 membership fees to avoid mask-mandate rules – but a court shut it down

Missouri capitol building on inauguration day
The Missouri State Capitol building. The state’s AG attended a rally in support of the cafe. Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images
  • A Missouri cafe was shut down after being turned into a private club prohibiting masks.
  • It posted signs reading: “Rae’s Cafe is NOT open to the public” and “our authority comes from GOD!”
  • The private club prohibited masks and charged $US1 ($AU1) membership fees, local reports said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Missouri cafe was forcibly shut down after its owner attempted to convert it to a private club with $US1 ($AU1) membership fees to skirt local mask requirements.

Rae’s Cafe and its owner, Amanda Wohletz, were hit with a temporary restraining order on Friday over health-policy violations, local TV station KSHB Kansas City reported.

The restraining order was just the latest update in an ongoing battle between the Blue Springs cafe and Jackson County officials, according to court documents and local reports.

Officials said in a petition filed earlier this month that Wohletz refused to close despite having her food permit revoked on September 3.

The restaurant was temporarily closed, but reopened and said it had become a private club, FOX4 Kansas City reported.

The members-only club had a $US1 ($AU1) fee to join and didn’t allow patrons to wear masks, AP reported.

KMBC on Friday posted a video with a shot of the cafe’s front windows with two signs: “Rae’s Cafe is NOT open to the public” and “Our Authority comes from GOD! Not the Jackson county health department!”

Jackson County Judge James F. Kanatzar issued a temporary restraining order Friday afternoon, granting the county’s request to immediately close the restaurant.

On Saturday, after the cafe was shut down, Missouri AG Eric Schmitt attended a rally in the strip mall’s parking lot. More than 100 people showed up to support Wohletz and the cafe, local reports said.

Schmitt said Wohletz was a victim of “local government overreach.”

“She’s a single mom who has now lost everything,” he said on Twitter. “I met employees who are now out of work. All because of this politically motivated mask mandate and virtue signaling by [Kansas City] politicians.”

Insider has reached out to the cafe for comment.

Yelp updated its review page for Rae’s, disabling new reviews because people were posting “their views on the news” not first-hand reviews of the restaurant.

The reviews from earlier this year were mixed.

One review said Rae’s was, “Great little home-cooking diner tucked away in a strip center.” Another touted the “Ultimate Breakfast plate,” saying the morning menu had “everything to offer.

Another patron said the service at Rae’s was “absolutely horrid,” adding: “Wish I could give it less than one star.”