AUGUSTA — While a now-deleted social media response from the owners of The Black & Tan restaurant in Augusta took aim at those making anonymous complaints and said the eatery would not require face masks, the proprietors now say they will follow state guidelines for indoor dining.

State officials said three complaints had been leveled against the restaurant at 18 Bridge St., prompting an inspector to call the restaurant to request corrective actions, which the restaurant’s owners said they will obey.

In the quickly deleted Facebook post late last month, the restaurant’s owners, Christoper and Stacey Shaw, said they were following most of the state guidelines, but drew the line at a couple of them.

“There are a couple of the guidelines I refuse to follow,” the post read. “I will not collect your personal information or contact info. I am not going to require my staff to wear masks (especially the kitchen staff).”

Employees are required to wear face masks or shields at work, as well as practice social distancing if at all possible, according to the Maine Department of Community Development.

Restaurants must also maintain records of customers — including one customer name and contact information per party, and the server of the table — for three weeks.


Gov. Janet Mills issued an executive order last week requiring that businesses enforce the state’s mask requirement. The order requires “large retail businesses, restaurants, outdoor bars, tasting rooms, and lodging establishments” in Cumberland, York, Hancock, Waldo, Knox, Lincoln and Sagadahoc counties, as well as the cities of Bangor, Brewer, Lewiston, Auburn and Augusta, to enforce the May executive order requiring masks in indoor public places.

Masks are also required outside in areas where physical distancing is impractical or impossible.

Last month, Petrillo’s restaurant in Freeport was cited and had its license suspended for serving customers indoors despite a prohibition on indoor dining in the county.

Jackie Farwell, a spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, said the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention’s Health Inspection Program addresses potential violations of health codes.

She said ongoing violations can result suspension of a restaurant’s health license, and a citation against a liquor license if the establishment does not comply with standards.

Documents from the state Department of Health and Human Services show three complaints were leveled against The Black & Tan — on May 8, June 27 and July 1, 2020.


The first complaint alleged no employees were wearing a mask or gloves, and some customers were not social distancing.

The second complaint alleged customers were “two rows deep at the bar” and not adhering to “proper social distancing.”

The third complaint alleged the pub “is outright refusing to have its staff wear masks,” and references a Facebook post from the pub.

A document from July 1 shows an inspector called Stacey Shaw in reference to the social media complaint and reviewed Department of Economic and Community Development guidelines “in regards to facial coverings and contact tracing.”

Shaw reportedly told the inspector every employee is required to wear a face mask at work, but the restaurant has three employees whose medical conditions prevent them from wearing masks.

The Black & Tan restaurant and pub on Bridge Street in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

The document lists “corrective actions” for the restaurant, including that it continue to collect contact information, monitor employees so they are wearing masks at work and enforce rules requiring patrons wear masks when not seated at tables.


In a statement written by Stacey Shaw, who said her husband and the restaurant’s co-owner, Christopher, would not be able to comment because he is a sergeant with the Augusta Police Department, said The Black & Tan has “done everything we can to comply with all of the health guidelines put out by the state of Maine.”

“We recently posted on our Facebook page that we were upset over a complaint that our staff was not wearing masks and were not practicing social distancing,” Stacey Shaw wrote.

“This post has since been taken down. This post stated that we were essentially in compliance with all of the guidelines.”

Shaw said The Black & Tan was not going to log contact info because it was difficult to verify if the information. Shaw said many customers are identifying themselves as “Janet Mills,” and the most common telephone number is 867-5309. However, the restaurant now says will now comply with that guideline.

“867-5309/Jenny” is a pop song released in 1981 by the American band Tommy Tutone.

“We are now keeping a list due to a call from the state health office,” the statement reads. “We have not received a citation for this; however, we did get educated further on guidelines to stay in compliance.”


On employees not wearing masks, Stacey Shaw wrote her restaurant was “not going to force our staff to wear a mask if they have a medical issue, nor do we have to given the current guidelines. One of our staff in the front of the house does wear a mask as is her choice because she is pregnant.”

Shaw said the restaurant has reduced its seating, built Plexiglas barriers to go between the booths and regularly sanitize surfaces.

“There is nothing more we can do to stay in compliance,” Shaw said.

Shaw added that she and her husband have requested people bring complaints directly to the restaurant before going to the city or state.

The now-deleted post was met with encouragement from a number of local officials, including state Rep. Justin Fecteau, City Councilor Heather Pouliot and Augusta Downtown Alliance Executive Director Michael Hall.

Fecteau, R-Augusta, said requirements to wear masks are subject to a number of exceptions, including those who are unable to wear masks due to medical conditions.


“The business has to do (require masks,) but the business can’t get into everyone’s medical information,” he said. “How does a business (make people wear masks) without breaking somebody’s medical privacy? That’s an impossible question to answer.”

Fecteau said businesses might have problems getting information from customers. He said he had seen people write down inaccurate contact information. He also said people “have to trust people” to make the best decision for themselves.

Fecteau said he believed “the overwhelming majority of people are doing the best they can,” and “people are taking this stuff seriously.”

Fecteau said restrictions might be more widely accepted if the entire Legislature — not just the Mills administration — came up with “a broad base of health guidelines.”

“I just think we need a better relationship between citizen and state,” he said, adding people would take more ownership of the restrictions if their elected officials had a hand in deciding them.

Pouliot said she “will always support local people and local businesses taking a risk to open up shop and bring a unique and fun culture to Augusta, especially in the downtown.”


“I know and understand the difference between a requirement from an executive order and the law,” she said. “If you have a disability or cannot wear a mask, you cannot be forced to do so.

“Guidelines are wonderful and in this case some guidelines are necessary, but we are not able to force people to follow them. As Americans, we have choices on whether or not to support certain businesses, and we also have a right to our own health and safety. It’s important to me to support ALL of my constituents and their rights.”

When asked if she thought businesses should abide by guidelines despite not being forced, Pouliot said it was up to “individual businesses to make the best decisions for their employees, customers and their business as a whole.”

“If they choose to follow the guidelines,” she said, “I think that’s great.”

Hall said he interpreted the now-deleted post as a suggestion to potential complainants to address the issue with owners before filing a complaint with the state.

“The owner is probably the quickest way to correct it,” he said. “That’s basically what the post was saying.”

Hall said he thought all businesses should adhere to the guidelines, but, without knowing the medical history of customers and employees, doing so could be challenging.

“I know Stacey and Chris (Shaw),” he said. “I know they are probably trying to do their best to follow the guidelines of the law, just like any other business.”

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