Coronavirus and Minnesota Restaurants: Now What?

The closings, the pivoting, and the unease
Want to support your favorite restaurant? Jason recommends takeout.
Want to support your favorite restaurant? Jason recommends takeout.

GVictoria/Adobe

These are scary times. Staying safe and healthy and keeping our friends and neighbors safe and healthy is the top priority with the COVID-19 outbreak. There’s so much we don’t know, but I hope we’ve moved beyond the silly “It’s no worse than the flu” reaction. It is worse. It spreads faster. We have no immunity. We have no vaccine. (For more information about coronavirus, refer to the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control.)

And in times of stress and pressure, we want to come together—not isolate. Yet. We know the right thing to do. The CDC is urging people to cancel any gathering of 50 people or more. Today, after Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey declared a local public health emergency, Gov. Walz extended the same precautions statewide. That means the state will limit access to bars, restaurants, and coffee shops. Delivery, curbside pick-up, and drive-thru service will become your only options.

Many restaurants have already made this decision: Punch Pizza closed all their stores. Spoon and Stable. Mucci’s. Saint Dinette. Alma. So many coffee shops. They’re doing it to keep us safe, but they’re also doing it to keep their business alive. Drastically cutting costs is the only option for survival. No one can survive long-term on just takeout business or family meals or any of the other things people are trying. (Here’s my list of restaurant closings at wcco.com; my other list of restaurants with curbside pickup; and my list of the Twin Cities’ best takeout restaurants.)

BUT! We can help the places we love by ordering takeout. [Here’s that list again] We can order gift cards and hang onto them (knowing it’s a risk, as, if the restaurant goes out of business, the card is worthless).

Some of these restaurants will change forever, and I worry that diners will all change, as well. We’ve been moving toward more delivery, more takeout, less sit-down. Will this seal the deal? The top of the fine-dining pyramid does well in the Twin Cities, but that’s it. Will people still want to sit down for a fancy meal and be taken care of? Many restaurants have been on the edge to begin with. Will this be the last call for them?

The truth is, we don’t know. No one knows. We’re all doing our best. But to do our best right now—for me, I’ll be ordering takeout.

For more information about Coronavirus and its impact on our community, click here.

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