Bar Owners Speak Out Against Ongoing State Restrictions During Shutdown

Many business owners want indoor service to open at 50 percent capacity or more

PROCTOR, Minn. – Minnesota bar owners are speaking out against the state not allowing them to open for indoor service.

Many Minnesota bars have been closed for more than two months to comply with the state’s Stay-at-Home and Stay Safe MN orders.

While bars can reopen outdoors on June 1, the owners are frustrated as they have no idea as to when the state will let them serve customers indoors again.

“We want to reopen and we want to reopen safe,” said Dick Kari, manager of the Powerhouse Bar in Proctor.

His business’s parking lot hosted many other bar owners discussing how to best get approval to reopen.

“The frustrating part is that we don’t have the governor behind us,” added Kari. “It’s disappointing.”

Some bar owners we spoke with tell us less of their customers are getting food to go from them since Wisconsin bars reopened.

“Our customers that were getting curbside to go, some of them are now heading across the bridge to go benefit on Superior opening up,” said Ryan Lindstrom, owner, and manager of Carmen’s in Cloquet.

Lindstrom says he’s ready to serve dine-in customers in the safest way possible.

“We’ve moved our tables, we’ve ordered hand sanitizer stands to put out throughout the building, we’d be more than willing to wear masks if we have to while we’re working,” he explained.

Tony Chesak, executive director of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, was on hand answering questions about how bars can cope with the shutdown.

“We’ve given ourselves some clear indications on what we need to do to have that be successful,” he said. “We’re looking for some guidelines by the governor to give us more assistance on that. We’d like the governor to give us a date to open up safely.”

He says it’s important for members to contact their local politicians and let them know how much the shutdown has impacted their bottom line.

“If things don’t happen quickly, we’re going to see a lot more folks shut their doors,” said Chesak.

Business owners say opening just outside isn’t enough, especially because good weather can’t be relied on.

They want the state to allow indoor service to open at 50 percent capacity or more in the near future.

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