North Shore Businesses Reopen, Hopeful for Additional Snowfall

During Winter, Businesses Along the North Shore Rely Heavily on Traffic Brought in by Snow Conditions

BEAVER BAY, Minn. – Businesses along the North Shore are breathing a sigh of relief after months of being shut down.

However, many owners now have to deal with another obstacle – a lack of snow this winter.

“We opened in August anticipating that things were going to get better, and then we got a rude surprise in November, and it made it almost impossible,” said Jason Barstow, owner of Tracks N Racks.

The new business is now open along Main Street in the small city of Beaver Bay.

“Everybody is just ready to be out and do normal stuff again,” said Barstow. “We wanted to have a place in our community where we could do more event type stuff.”

He never thought his passion for owning his own business would be sidelined by a global pandemic.

“If it was up to this place, this whole world would be wide open,” said Barstow.

Yet due to orders by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, the business hasn’t blossomed as Barstow expected during his first year of trial and error.

“We try to make it as safe as we can for everybody, but at the same time we want people to come in and relax and not think about that stuff,” said Barstow.

He’s thankful for the newly relaxed restrictions and now begs for Mother Nature to do her part in helping business boom this winter.

“It’s been a little slower than normal. The ski hills and stuff are open north of us so we’re seeing a little bit of that traffic but due to the lack of snowfall we haven’t seen as many snowmobilers as we’d like to see,” said Barstow.

The bar and restaurant has plans for better beginnings in the New Year. Barstow hopes to host live bands and more outdoor entertainment while people sit back, relax, and reconnect with safety in mind.

“We have a very simple option here. We do great burgers; we’re going to start pushing out wings. Hopefully, this place will be the best burger and wing place you’re going to find on the shore,” said Barstow.

Further inland, Four Season’s Supper Club in Finland is slowly getting back to normal.

“November shot everything all to pieces,” said Bonnie Tikkanen, owner of Four Seasons Supper Club. “That was a struggle to even stay open for November and December.”

Tikkanen is now hoping to put a 90 percent decrease in sales in the rearview mirror.

“I only remained open to help the locals out and people that are going through the area. There’s no other place in this town that’s been open,” said Tikkanen.

She’s thankful for local returning customers and says many patrons passing by simply weren’t pleased with the reality of recent restrictions.

“One gentleman said, ‘I’ve never eaten outside on snowmobile before and I’m never going to do it again.’”

Kindness now outweighs that cold reality. Phones are ringing off the hook as winter enthusiasts call for updates on trial conditions.

“Every day, two or three times a day, people are calling to ask about the conditions, what it’s like, and asking if they can eat in,” said Tikkanen.

It’s a sign of hope for many small business owners in rural towns across Northeastern Minnesota.

“Years ago, we would have no less than 100 snowmobiles in the parking lot,” said Tikkanen. “I know both the state and the local snowmobile club have been out grooming the trails. They’re doing the best they can with what they’ve got to work with.”

Both hopeful for better days, Tikkanen and Barstow are left to go with the flow for now as flakes refuse to fly.

“I just hope we get to stay open now that we’re open. It’s hard opening, closing, opening, closing,” said Tikkanen.

“Thank you to everyone who did support us when were closed down. It wasn’t enough to pay all the bills, but it helped us keep going to get to this point,” said Barstow.

Barstow made the tough decision to close his doors for one week to reevaluate how business moving forward during the last shutdown.

Meantime, Tikkanen is in the process of bringing back more staff, and looking forward to March when the annual St. Urho’s Day Celebration is set to take place.

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