BETHEL — Sunday River Brewing Co. is ready to open and the owner has challenged state officials to take him to court.

Rick Savage makes donuts in the kitchen of the Sunday River Brewing Co. in Bethel on Friday morning to prepare for opening his restaurant to the public in defiance of the state order. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Also, the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations confirmed Friday that Sunday River Brewing Co. was in violation of bureau rules, which prohibits a licensee, his agent, or employee from allowing any improper conduct or illegality on the premises. The company was ordered to comply.

During his Thursday night broadcast, Fox News host Tucker Carlson interviewed Savage, who said he will open despite Maine’s executive order prohibiting gatherings of 10 people or more.

On Thursday night, the restaurant’s Facebook page only advertised takeout service. Savage plans to open it at noon. On the restaurant’s Facebook page Friday, an updated notice indicated the restaurant, at 29 Sunday River Road, will open at 4 p.m.

Savage told Carlson during the show that his 250-seat restaurant, with a 2,200-square-foot patio, is capable of seating people at 6-foot intervals, and it’s time to reopen.

Businesses such as golf courses, hair salons and car dealerships are allowed to open Friday as long as they prevent more than 10 people gathering, and if they have enough space for people to practice social distancing.

Under the executive order issued Tuesday, Maine restaurants are permitted to open June 1, if they are able to provide appropriate safety precautions.

Savage had nothing good to say about Gov. Janet Mills, who issued the executive orders restricting activity in Maine and set a timeline for its reopening. “She’s over her head,” he told Carlson. “She’s doing this to break our state even more than we are now.”

In 2012, Mills, an attorney with Preti Flaherty, represented Savage in court. He was arrested in May 2012 outside the Bethel Town Office after a selectmen’s meeting. He was charged with terrorizing, disorderly conduct and refusing to submit to arrest or detention. All charges were dismissed in November that year; in 2013, a federal wrongful arrest lawsuit filed by Savage against the town and former Town Manager Jim Doar was settled, and a settlement paid to Savage.

Carlson, who owns a vacation home in nearby Bryant Pond, called Mills “the most dictatorial governor I’ve seen in a long time.”

Savage spent most of the time talking about how his restaurant and tourism-based businesses across Maine need to reopen. “I really hope these restaurants open,” he said.

Savage ended the segment by giving the governor’s cellphone number on the air, according to MaineExaminer.com.

This story was updated to reflect criminal charges filed against Savage were later dismissed.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.