Restaurateurs Warn That Nothing Short Of Full Reopening Will Save Businesses

Over half of Minnesota's hospitality businesses are expected to close forever as Governor Walz asks them to go without income for over 20% of 2020.

Numerous resturants around Minnesota closed their doors permanently this week as some restaurant owners warn that a partial reopening will not be enough to sustain their businesses.

All three of the Bonfire Restaurants in Eagan, Woodbury and Savage, Vivo in Apple Valley, Pazzaluna Urban Italian Restaurant and Bar in St. Paul, Cleveland Wok in St. Paul and other Minnesota business went under this week amidst Governor Tim Walz’s economic shutdown orders designed to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Vivo’s executive director Jeff Mould says his entire staff is “deeply saddened” about their restaurants’s closing but that “the reality is that the business margins of a 400-seat capacity restaurant are not maintainable currently or under limited capacity seating,” per the Pioneer Press.

Before it lost the financial battle against Walz’s shutdown orders, Vivo was doing its best to supply free meals to struggling Minnesotans amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, reports the Pioneer Press.

Like Mould, Bill Kozlak, the owner of Jax Cafe in Minneapolis, says a partial reopening will not suffice to keep resturants afloat. “I might lose more money being open at 50% capacity [due to distancing between tables] than I will be being closed,” he says, per the Star Tribune. He also notes that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has not had the desired effect of sustaining businesses during Walz’s closures.

This week’s rash of business failures will likely not be an isolated event. Over half of Minnesota’s hospitality related businesses are expected to shutter their doors for the last time before Walz’s shutdowns abait, per Minnesota Hospitality, an industry advocacy group.

Bonfire Resturants echoed this concern in a heartfelt letter they wrote to their patrons announcing their closure.

“As you know, the future of hospitality is incredibly uncertain and over the past month… We have explored multiple paths to emerge triumphant at the end of this pandemic, but there’s just no way for us to support the financial weight of our company,” the letter reads.

Walz originally ordered resturants to close their doors on March 17, a shutdown that was only intended to last for 10 days. However, now that days have stretched into months via a series of extensions to the governor’s executive orders, a growing number of local small businesses have been forced to close forever. Barring the possibility of another extension, Walz’s current shutdown orders are slated to last 77 days— that’s over 20% of 2020.