Middleton coffee shop that posted ‘mask-free zone’ sign loses lease, closing at end of August

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MIDDLETON, Wis. — According to an Instagram post Thursday night, the Middleton coffee shop that had posted a “mask-free zone” sign lost its lease and will close at the end of the month.

The post said Helbachs Coffee Roasters will close its Middleton location on Aug. 31 due to “the enforcement action, negative public statements, and continued vindictive and hostile behavior towards Helbachs Coffee taken by Public Health Madison & Dane County.”

A photo circulating online last month during Dane County’s first day of its mask mandate showed a sign hanging in the store’s window saying it is a “Mask Free Zone.” The sign asked that customers remove face masks upon entering. Over the following days, the store’s owner denied ever having the sign in the window. In the weeks to follow, several protests happened outside Helbachs, as demonstrators handed out free coffee and not to enter the coffee shop.

Helbachs accused PHMDC of “walking back its accusations,” and said the actions it had already taken cause their landlord to “non-renew Helbachs Lease.”

“We want to thank all of our loyal customers that stayed faithful through these challenging circumstances.”

The post said more information will be available on the coffee shop’s GoFundMe page.

PHMDC told News 3 Now on Thursday that it has removed its threat of revoking Helbachs’ food and drink license and have stayed the hearing until the federal lawsuit is resolved.