Current capacity limits could spell even more trouble for the hospitality industry if they persist through winter

I recently wrote about Surly Brewing’s decision to close its destination beer hall,

When Governor Walz showed interest in working with Minnesota Hospitality to work out a reopening plan, business people in the hospitality industry sighed relief.  However, that relief was shortlived when their reopening was met with some heavy restrictions like limited capacity and the requirement that restaurants only do outside seating. These restrictions have been loosened but are not gone completely, and businesses are suffering for it.

Just recently Surly Brewing has announced plans to permanently close its restaurant, bar, and event center citing unprofitability which has been partly a direct result of these restrictions.  Worse yet, it is no the only establishment to permanently close. And Other establishments face the risk of closure in the upcoming months if working conditions persist.

Winter is coming

But according to the Hospitality industry, this may just be the beginning. Restaurants and bars will soon face winter. Limited capacity will make it harder for a lot of them to serve all their customers. As reported by Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal,

A trade association representing Minnesota restaurants warns 40% of its member businesses could close by the end of the year if the state doesn’t dial back seating and capacity restrictions before winter’s arrival.

“These businesses are truly hanging on the brink of collapse. That is not hyperbole, that is true,” said Liz Rammer, president and CEO of Hospitality Minnesota. “They’re running out of money and out of time.”


Rammer said the impending arrival of winter makes the changes urgent. Many restaurants limped through a pandemic-afflicted summer on the strength of outdoor dining, and now they need a chance to entice guests back indoors.

Restaurant operators say some of their customers are likely to avoid in-person dining until there’s a vaccine. However, others are willing to take the risk, and the upcoming holiday season means they’re searching for places to gather.

Rammer argued even a small bump in revenue could get some restaurants through to next spring.

We have seen from the unemployment numbers, that the hospitality industry has been the hardest hit. And stretching these rules is only going to deter recovery for the industry without significant benefit to show for.