Some Duluth Restaurants, Hotels Look Toward Uncertain Future

Hotels and restaurants try to stay afloat after decreased business for this long.

DULUTH, Minn.- As many local businesses in the hospitality industry make adjustments to continue staying open, for others that might not be an option.

Dubh Linn Brew Pub in Downtown Duluth is changing their business model, offering delivery of growlers of their in-house brew, cider, wine, and food five days a week from 4pm-8pm.

“People are looking for a reason, a little normalcy, something to do and so it’s been something economical for people and kind of an all inclusive dinner,” said Owner Mike Maxim.

According to Maxim, they will deliver from 60th Avenue West to 60th Avenue East in Duluth. They will also be offering chicken wings and house-made spinach artichoke dip with a growler purchase, and two free comedy tickets.

He hopes that it can provide more of a band-aid to the financial wound they, like other restaurants in the city, have been experiencing. “It was a pretty big hit to the account,” he said.

“I’d say this, our goal is basically to maintain, stay in business and maintain some level of normalcy into, once everything opens up,” said Maxim.

“With every passing day for the restaurants that are not open and even the ones who are trying to make it by, the situation becomes a little bit more desperate,” Tony Bronson said.

Bronson, President of the Duluth Local Restaurant Association and Director of Business Development at Grandma’s, said more restaurants are trying those new methods.

“It doesn’t make up for in-house dining where folks can have a beverage with their meal, maybe a nice dessert or an appetizer and that’s not a thing,” he said,

“And so we’re getting nowhere near the volume that we would, although we’re very happy with the fact that people are still out supporting local restaurants.”

Meanwhile the only two Grandma’s locations open are by the mall and in Virginia. Canal Park remains closed. “With hotel occupancy down in the single digits, there aren’t a lot of people down there,” said Bronson.

The uncertain future is effecting all businesses in the hospitality industry from Canal Park, to the North Shore.

“I’m just worried that it’s not going to be how it normally is,” said Julie Sievert, owner of the Inn on Gitchee Gumee on Congdon Blvd. They’re also adapting to try and get more people to stay. “I think some people are a little scared.”

“What we’re trying to do is a curbside check-in and I just direct people where to park and show them where their room is,” she said.

While her and her husband Butch have been trying different specials–like stay one night, get another night free–business has been tough.

“It’s been very hard, so worried about how we’re going to pay our bills. and yeah it’s been pretty scary,” said Sievert.

With more reservations this week, they hope summer will be more busy.

“So far we’ve made it and we’re hoping that with our really good customers, some of them had to cancel they said we’ll just take a rain-check and come another time instead of me giving their deposits back,” she said.

“So they’ve been really good to us and they’re looking forward to coming back.”

Meanwhile, even with talk of re-opening the country soon, it won’t be quick for restaurants, said Bronson.

“It won’t be a light switch.”

“Staff is going to have to get rehired, staff will have to get retrained, coolers will have to be filled up again, freezers will have to be filled up again,” he said.

And some of them won’t make it out.

“There’s going to be a fallout and unfortunately I think that’s going to be that some places are not going to survive,” said Bronson.

So for now, these local businesses will have to look on the bright side.

“We’re remodeling our rear entrance into a main entrance because of Superior Street reconstruction,” Maxim said, “w’ere re-doing the bar, we’re re-doing the floors, the bathrooms.”

“Because we have the downtime to do it, we might as well take advantage of it,” he said.

And for the Sieverts, they’re not giving up on the business they’ve stuck with for most of their lives.

“We’ve made it 33 years and we’ve gone through a lot,” Julie said.

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