Bluffton BBQ restaurant set to reopen after defiance to mask mandate forced closure

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Nearly nine months after being closed by the Wells County Department of Health, Yergy’s State Road BBQ is set to reopen for business. It was closed in August for not following Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb’s Emergency Order that was established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Matt Yergler, the owner of the business gave his staff and customers the option of wearing a face covering inside the restaurant, despite the mandate to require masks to be worn by all. Yergler stood defiant, crediting his belief that the order was an example of government overreach.

“We didn’t know we would reopen again,” Yergler told WANE 15. “But we were okay with it, because we knew what we were fighting in and we knew what we were doing was the right thing to do.”

The closure of the business and Yergler’s words in board of health meetings fueled a debate across the state over government’s role in protecting people versus making decisions for businesses.

“We’re not here to divide,” Yergler said. “We’re here to take our differences and move on. It’s done. It’s over. We’re opening and we’re going to do what we’ve always done. We’re going to treat people the way we’ve always treated people, whether you agree with us or not.”

According to Yergler, the legal fight isn’t over though. He said he hopes to leave an impact on the power the governor has over businesses and will see damages from the Wells County Department of Health.

The department of health confirmed to WANE 15 that the business has been fully permitted ahead of its reopen day on Thursday, May 13.

“We had doubts that we would ever reopen, but by the grace of God and his faithfulness, we’re here and we’re opening tomorrow,” Yergler added.

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