Rae’s Cafe to reopen in Independence after defying Jackson County mask, health orders

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The Blue Springs cafe ordered closed after defying Jackson County’s mask and health orders will move to Independence, outside the control of the county and without mask mandates, an Independence councilmember said Tuesday.

Rae’s Cafe, which a Jackson County judge ordered to cease operations last month, could reopen sometime during the first couple weeks of November in a strip mall at 23rd Street and Missouri 291 highway, said Independence Councilmember Mike Huff.

The cafe, which would have celebrated its four year anniversary in its previous home along Missouri 7 highway in Blue Springs last week, is moving about 10 miles away to Independence, which doesn’t have a mask mandate.

Rae’s owner, Amanda Wohletz, could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Huff said he worked with councilmembers Brice Stewart and Michael Steinmeyer to help find the restaurant a new location after Jackson County “took her out of business.”

The restaurant will open in a location where Responders Grill and Bar was to open but has been unable to do so due to a lack of employees during the pandemic, Huff said.

“I was able to put that piece together and get with the owner of the strip mall and we were able to reach an agreement, got a lease and she’s now moving to Independence,” Huff said. “I spent a lot of time doing it and her and I are working together to make this happen and it looks like we succeeded.”

Everything is signed, documented and once the finishing touches are completed on the building, the restaurant will be able to open up, Huff said. The deal was finalized Monday.

The dispute between Rae’s Cafe and the county centered around Jackson County’s mask order that was reinstated in early August as the highly contagious coronavirus delta variant drove cases and hospitalizations up.

Shortly after Jackson County’s mask mandate went into effect, the county received complaints that Rae’s Cafe was not complying.

Wohletz defied warnings, citations, the revocation of a food permit and the Jackson County’s Health Department’s order to close the restaurant. She had continued to operate the restaurant until a judge ruled against her and ordered her to cease operating it in violation of the county’s health order.

The judge also ordered Rae’s Cafe to cease operation until it received a valid food permit.

The three councilmembers involved in Rae’s Cafe relocation were against a mask mandate in Independence, said Huff, who added that they were for “freedom of choice on masks.” Wearing a mask should be left to “personal choice.”

“She’s a very big business person down in Blue Springs and just thought that Independence could sure use a nice restaurant,” Huff said.

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