MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- At Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub, the St. Patrick's Day weekend was all set to be a big one. The city was hosting the huge Lucky Palooza festivities and country singer Jason Aldean was playing at the Xcel Energy Center.
"We shut down Monday night at 10 o'clock, before St. Patrick's day," explains Hockey City Pub general manager, Kathy Gosiger.
That's the date when concerns over the rapidly spreading COVID-19 virus forced the state into a devastating lockdown. Businesses and life as we knew it went dark.
"The biggest part of what we're missing are the events at the X -- the hockey, concerts, that's huge money that we're missing," Gosiger said.
Five months later, safety protocols like the statewide mask mandate, physical distancing and Tom's naturally warm charm are again greeting patrons.
"We have this new patio and this is filled almost every night, along with the North Star room. But when the weather's bad, business is down," Gosiger said.
According to data from the Minneapolis Federal Reserve, statewide dining table seating is off 46% from a year ago. The problem is even more severe in Minneapolis, where it has fallen a whopping 65 percent.
"I think we've seen a steady stream of restaurants closing permanently, that's going to continue to happen unfortunately," said president and CEO of Hospitality Minnesota, Liz Rammer.
Slowly, people are returning as masks and protocols restore some level of safety and confidence.
Still, it's not nearly enough to keep many businesses afloat as 67% of Hospitality Minnesota members relied on federal PPP grants to stay in business.
"And about the same number tell us they will need additional support or they will not make it," Rammer said. "And 40% told us they won't make it until the end of the year."
At Tom Reid's, the sunny weather is their greatest ray of hope.
"We're hoping for a long summer and a warm fall," Gosiger said.
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