Local leaders and business owners in Prior Lake have asked Gov. Tim Walz to let the city become a test case for the reopening of restaurants.
Dine-in service at restaurants and bars has been banned since mid-March as part of the state's response to the coronavirus, and while some restaurants have been able to switch to delivery and takeout, it's not nearly enough to replace their lost revenue.
In Prior Lake, local restaurateurs say that the crucial time for local restaurants will be June 1, at which point many are likely to close for good if they can't re-open.
Now a group of 15 restaurants, including PLate on Main and Charlie's on Prior, have put themselves forward to be test cases for the possible reopening of restaurants, a stance that has been backed by the city's mayor and local council members.
They have written a letter to Gov. Walz setting out a way they can reopen while maintaining social distancing, which comes after Walz suggested that restaurants and bars would likely be among the last things to come back as they were before.
Some of the measures include reducing bar stool counts, placing drinks and food on tables rather than handing to guests, keeping six feet of space between all tables, and the sanitization once an hour of all host podiums, service stations, service carts, drink stations, counters, handrails, doors, and trays.
"Prior Lake is a community that understands the importance of staying at home and adhering to the social distancing guidance. During this time, our residents are doing so while also supporting local restaurants by making purchases online and ordering food to go. Despite these efforts our restaurants are all suffering greatly," the letter from Mayor Kirt Briggs read.
"The owners of these restaurants are our neighbors. Their personal and financial investment in our community is significant. It is in large part because of them, that Prior Lake has become known as a community with a small town feel that is a wonderful place to live work and play for a lifetime. The difficulty they are enduring is felt by all of us in our community of extended family members."
Read the letter below: