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Due to in-door dining capacity limits, some restaurants are considering closing down for the winter

On September 2nd I wrote about Surly Brewing closing its destination beer hall, citing capacity limits as the main reason business had become unprofitable.  This, however, is not the only business that has been forced to permanently close. And from the looks of it, it will not be the last.

As I wrote before, a survey done by Hospitality Minnesota showed that about 40% of businesses would close by the end of the year if current working conditions persisted. Those predictions look like they are close to coming true. As restaurants are preparing for the winter, they are figuring out the best way to stay open and maximize business. But for some, closing down seems like the best option considering the current capacity limits. As reported by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal,

Ninetwentyfive in Wayzata, for example, is adding heated igloos for diners and installing retractable shades on its patio to keep in heat.

Restaurateur Kim Bartmann, though, notes that, “Here in Minnesota you can only tough it out eating outside for so long.” She’s installing $4,000 ionizers to clear air inside three of her restaurants in the Twin Cities, but will shut down Tiny Diner for the winter because she expects costs will be higher than sales for the winter. The restaurant’s gross revenue dropped 75% during the summer to $12,000 per week, even with the addition of larger patio space.

This might be the death of the hospitality industry

The hospitality industry was the first industry that Governor Walz hit with orders to cease operations in March. And after all the other businesses had reopened, it was the last industry that he allowed to reopen, with woeful restrictions. Still to date, restaurants and bars can only operate at 50% indoor capacity. For the longest time business owners have called for the repeal of these rules and for good reason; they make the business unprofitable.

Restaurants and bars are losing money for all the seats they leave empty. To make matters worse, winter is almost upon us, and restaurants and bars will not have the opportunity to sit people outside. For a majority of establishments, outside seating has allowed them to offset some losses from limited capacity. But as mentioned before, to keep sitting people outside, establishments will have to invest in heating systems which are costly.

Therefore, it is highly possible that a lot of establishments will be forced to temporarily close if operating in the winter proves too costly. But this has its own long term blowbacks as well. Restaurants that close temporarily might have trouble finding reliable staff once they decide to reopen. And this affects their probability of survival.

Conclusion

All things considered, it does not make sense to leave these restrictions operational. Evidence has shown, and experts agree, that there are ways to protect the vulnerable without imposing irreparable damage on everyone else and the economy. The hospitality industry has adapted to the hardships that have come with the coronavirus. But that does not mean the industry is invincible. On the contrary, the industry continues to be more fragile as the crisis extends. And all these restrictions to businesses are not helping one bit.

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