May 13, 2021 - News

Minneapolis has lost at least 67 restaurants during the COVID pandemic

Illustration of an animated video-game style health bar shaped like a chef's knife.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Minneapolis has lost at least 67 restaurants during the pandemic, representing about 7% of the city's establishments with some type of liquor license.

  • The list of closures includes some of the Twin Cities' most popular eateries, including Butcher & The Boar, Burch Steak, Bachelor Farmer and Grand Cafe.

Why it matters: So far, the losses have not come anywhere near 2020's most dire predictions, when some experts said as many as 75% of all restaurants that had closed temporarily would not reopen.

  • And many of the shuttered spaces are now being brought back to life by new operators.

The state of play: Enrique Velázquez, Minneapolis' manager of licenses and consumer services who compiled the restaurant closure list, told Nick he thought the city would lose many more than it has based on roundtable discussions with operators and workers last year.

  • "It's definitely a resilient group. [I'm] happy at how they've been able to respond, how they've been able to augment their business practices to operate in this new normal that we have, and I am optimistic that a lot of the ones that have closed or closed temporarily will come back."

The big picture: It may take months or years before we know the real toll the pandemic took on the local restaurant industry.

  • Minneapolis suspended licensing fees last year, which makes it hard to definitively track all the restaurants that have called it quits.
  • St. Paul also didn't have an exact count but said 37 businesses took advantage of the city's COVID-era policy that allowed them to deactivate their business license. So far, 19 have not come off that list.

The bottom line: Many restaurateurs lost personal income, took on more debt and pushed unpaid rent into the future. They may still be around, but they're staring down a deep financial hole.

  • Restaurants that have survived were helped by two rounds of PPP loans, state stimulus funding and the new restaurant revitalization fund, said Ben Wogsland, director of government relations for Hospitality Minnesota.
  • "Some of those things helped, but I think you're unfortunately going to continue to see some folks hang it up," he said.

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