Even Hell’s (Kitchen) Is Freezing Over
Stock up on your bread and milk now, because many Twin Cities area grocery stores, restaurants, and other businesses are closing or cutting hours as we ride out an extreme cold snap.
Hell’s Kitchen is among many restaurants that remained closed on Tuesday and plans to do the same Wednesday, when the expected high is -15 degrees Fahrenheit—the coldest the Twin Cities has experienced in more than 20 years. It’s a first for the popular downtown restaurant, and owner Cynthia Gerdes estimates she’ll lose thousands of dollars in sales. But, she says, the safety of her staff is worth it.
“Many of our employees bike to work in the winter, and most of them take public transportation,” Gerdes says. “It was a no-brainer because standing out at five in the morning to get to work for a breakfast joint is nothing I want to hear about afterwards, where they suffered from frostbite and ended up going to the hospital.”
The restaurant’s bakery, Angel Food Bakery, however, will remain open during normal business hours. Their team is much smaller, and they all drive in due to the early nature of their workdays. Plus, Gerdes says, they still have custom and corporate orders to get out.
“You’re not going to cancel someone’s birthday just because it’s too cold,” Gerdes says. “So, while Hell is frozen over, Angel Food is wide open.”
Lunds & Byerlys and Kowalski’s grocery stores are taking similar precautions. Both will close their locations early on Tuesday and Wednesday, at 7 p.m.
“Due to the dangerously low temperatures, we thought it was in the best interest of our staff to close early today and tomorrow,” says Aaron Sorenson, communications manager at Lunds & Byerlys. “In a lot of ways, it’s sort of a balancing act. We’re in the business of serving customers, so we certainly want to do that as much as possible, but at the same time, with the temperatures being what they are, we felt like we should protect our staff by not having them coming in during those late evening and overnight hours.”
They’ll be no late-night beers at Surly Brewing, either, as they’re closing shop at 8 p.m. Tuesday, and not opening at all on Wednesday.
Mall of America and Rosedale Center are staying open their regular hours, but they can’t promise that all their tenants will do the same.
“It’s more of a safety issue than anything else,“ says Surly’s Vice President of Hospitality Operations Dan Dinnovis. “With the snow storm that happened last year, we had to put a protocol in place just because a lot of employees got stuck in the parking lot, and it was pretty much just a nightmare situation.” So as soon as they started hearing news reports of the life-threatening conditions, they made the call to close.
Meteorologist Susie Martin, director of operations at Paul Douglas’s Praedictix, a weather consulting, monitoring, and broadcast service, says she thinks these businesses are making the smart call.
“We are looking at record-breaking cold in many parts of Minnesota,” she says. “It’s the coldest temperature in over 20 years here in the Twin Cities.”
The last time the Twin Cities experienced -25 degrees Fahrenheit was in December of 1996, Martin says, and Wednesday’s predicted high temperature of -15 would make it the twenty-second coldest day on record ever in the metro area.
“This is extremely rare,” Martin says. “This is one of those things you see once or just a few times a century. It’s definitely one for the record books.”