Gone for Good: Permanent Restaurant Closings Pile Up
The Herkimer brewpub is closing its doors after 20 years in south Minneapolis The Herkimer Pub & Brewery's Facebook account

Gone for Good: Permanent Restaurant Closings Pile Up

Current state guidelines “not a sustainable business model,” industry leaders say.

As the Covid-19 pandemic grinds on, the economic fallout continues. An increasing number of Twin Cities restaurant owners have decided not to reopen at all — even after the pandemic passes.

The list of casualties keeps growing and has claimed several long-standing institutions: Moose & Sadie’s café and coffee shop in North Loop (29 years), Pazzaluna in downtown St. Paul (21 years) and The Herkimer brewpub in the LynLake area of south Minneapolis (20 years).

Eric Grotbeck, owner of The Egg and I restaurants, said that when the Covid shutdown hit, it made the most sense to close his Minneapolis location in April to focus on the survival of his St. Paul location.

“The St. Paul store was doing better than the Minneapolis store,” said Grotbeck. “I wanted to get ahead of the market.”

Grotbeck’s mother started the business in 1980.

“I’ve been working there since I was 13,” said Grotbeck.

In south Minneapolis, Grotbeck did not have to worry about trying to wrangle out of a lease because the restaurant has housed in a building owned by his mother. She is now in the process of selling the building.

The St. Paul location opened in 1987. But business is not booming.

“It’s slow…it’s slowly coming back but people are not coming back to work,” said Grotbeck. The St. Paul outpost is on the ground level of the Court International office building on University Avenue.

The Great Recession was different, he said.

“People were still coming in and going to work,” said Grotbeck.

Between the Minneapolis and St. Paul locations, Grotbeck said that he had to lay off about 40 employees, leaving just himself and two other staffers. He landed a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan of about $100,000 through St. Paul-based Sunrise Banks.

“I’m using it for rent and payroll right now,” said Grotbeck, who noted that he has not needed to ask his landlord for rent concessions so far. “I’m just trying to keep the lights on.”

Restaurant industry representatives say that operators can’t survive under current conditions.

“While reopening restaurants at 50 percent capacity for indoor dining is a good first step, this is not a sustainable business model as costs for our operators continue at 100 percent. If restaurants and food service providers are not able to move to the next phase of reopening with larger capacity soon, we will continue to see more permanent closures,” said Liz Rammer, president and CEO of Hospitality Minnesota, said in a statement.

Rammer added: “The government can assist these small businesses with economic relief programs to help bridge the revenue gap. At the same time, the public can provide their support by complying with the new safety protocols such as wearing masks to keep themselves and food service employees safe. There is no doubt there is very long road to recovery ahead so everything we can do to support this vital segment of hospitality will be critical in keeping restaurants afloat.”

Twin Cities Business research found that more than two dozen Twin Cities restaurants, coffee shops, and bakeries have closed for good in the wake of Covid-19. The current list is likely not complete and is expected to keep growing:

  • Bachelor Farmer and adjacent Marvel Bar, North Loop
  • Ginger Hop and basement club Honey, northeast Minneapolis
  • The Herkimer, LynLake Minneapolis
  • Muddy Waters, LynLake Minneapolis
  • McCormick & Schmick’s, Nicollet Mall location
  • Sleepy V’s donut shop, northeast Minneapolis
  • Pazzaluna, downtown St. Paul
  • Bad Waitress, northeast Minneapolis location
  • Burger Jones, south Minneapolis location
  • A Cupcake Social, south Minneapolis
  • Bar Luchador, Stadium Village Minneapolis
  • El Burrito Mercado, south Minneapolis location
  • 4 Bells, downtown Minneapolis
  • Fuji Ya, LynLake Minneapolis
  • Izzy’s Ice Cream, St. Paul location
  • Anelace Coffee, northeast Minneapolis
  • The Egg & I, LynLake Minneapolis location
  • Moose & Sadie’s, North Loop
  • Fig & Farro, Uptown Minneapolis
  • Cleveland Wok, St. Paul
  • NE Arcade, northeast Minneapolis
  • Bonfire, locations in Blaine, Eagan, Savage and Woodbury
  • Vivo Kitchen, Apple Valley
  • Sole Mio, Woodbury
  • Roasted Pear, Burnsville and Brooklyn Park
  • Little Tijuana, south Minneapolis