Frey: Restaurants are booming! Restaurants: We’re closing

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey tweeted last week about how on the first Friday of his new vaccine and testing regime (Jan. 21), his phone had “been flooded with pictures of full tables.”

He didn’t share these pictures. And data showed that, in fact, the number of diners in Minneapolis restaurants that night was down 59.5 percent from its pre-pandemic baseline, a steeper drop than in 42 of 45 cities surveyed across the United States. This gap has widened further since Jan. 17, two days after Mayor Frey announced his new COVID measures.

Now comes the news that Seven Steakhouse & Sushi, which has operated on the corner of Hennepin Avenue and 7th Street in downtown Minneapolis for almost 15 years, has closed.

COVID-19 has emptied downtown Minneapolis of workers, but other factors have contributed. Co-owner Erick Patterson told the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal that:

Worries about crime in downtown also contributed. “I can’t get staff to be excited to work downtown, because they don’t feel safe,” he said.

Finally, Patterson said city-ordered requirements on masks-wearing and vaccinations dealt the business a final blow. “We’ve seen a big decline even in the past few weeks,” following the revival of an indoor mask order by Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. On an average Friday night, he said, Seven could generate at least $25,000 in sales; after the mask order, Friday receipts dropped to $5,000.

“Unfortunately the elements for success simply are not available in downtown Minneapolis, and haven’t been for a long time,” the restaurant said in a statement.

As Patterson says, the problems in downtown Minneapolis didn’t start with the riots in May 2020 or COVID-19 in March that year. Crime has been trending up in the downtown since around 2019 and onerous taxes and regulations, like the city’s $15 an hour minimum wage, also pre-date 2020. But the events of that year seem to have set things moving at a faster rate.