Virus fallout a crushing blow to restaurants

DOORS TO ALL restaurants and bars have been shuttered thanks to the coronavirus outbreak. Photo / Erin Ballard

By Erin Ballard

In a drastic effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced Monday the temporary closure of the state’s bars, restaurants and other venues that serve dine-in guests.

The order went into effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday and extends until March 27.

But many restaurant owners are bracing themselves for a much lengthier interlude.

“I think it’s going to go out longer than 10 days,” Bonnie and Clyde’s owner Mike McDonald said. “I have no idea what I’m going to do. This is such a shock to us.”

The measure extends statewide, but is especially devastating to small businesses in rural areas like Tracy.

“It’s unbelievable what it’s going to do to our economy. In a city of our size, it’s going to close doors,” said Diane Fiegen, one of four people who co-own The Caboose. “There’s a lot of restaurants that aren’t going to bounce back from this. It’s like a punch in the stomach and it’s scary.”

The required shutdown is the latest in a string of blows to The Caboose as a result of the coronavirus scare.

Over the last month, as fears have ramped up nationally, the restaurant has lost five events which would have accounted for about $30,000 in revenue, Fiegen said. One of those was the annual CHS Inc. banquet, one of the business’s most significant economic boosts coming out of winter, typically the industry’s slowest season. Monday’s news meant the cancellation of two more events and an additional $10K loss, at least, she said.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.