Erbert & Gerbert’s Owner: MN Restaurants Can Open Safely With Distancing

DULUTH, Minn. – There is growing frustration from Minnesota bar and restaurant owners, including right here in Duluth, who still can’t open to customers for inside dining even though Gov. Tim Walz is allowing businesses like salons to open up inside at a limited capacity come June 1.

“I just look at it as, if you can open a salon 25 percent where people are one inch away from each other, then you should be able to open a restaurant at 25 percent as well,” said Al Kurtz, who owns five Erbert & Gerbert’s in Duluth, Cloquet and Superior.

The location in downtown Duluth on West First Street on Thursday had tables blocked off and social distancing signs in place for people to order their food and get out.

Kurtz said revenue was down nearly 50 percent last month at his downtown location, and he said despite what the governor says, restaurants can safely open for dining with a 25 percent occupancy to start.

“We could easily put in five tables, well over 6 feet apart — sanitize the tables as customers leave,” Kurtz said. “It’s OK for Menards to have 500 people, for Walmart to have a bunch of people, daycares to be open —  he’s basically choosing who he thinks is OK to be safe, and I don’t think that’s fair.”

Kurtz says the governor’s recent option to open up for limited dining outside is not a realistic option for him on a downtown city street and wouldn’t be worth it financially.

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