Restaurant reopening guidelines set to be announced Wednesday, but some have their own ideas

Gov. Tim Walz is expected to reveal his plan for the reopening of restaurants, bars, and salons.
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Patio table outdoor dining

Wednesday will be a huge day for Minnesota's restaurants, with Governor Tim Walz set to release the first look at the state's proposed guidance for reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor has set a tentative date of June 1 for reopening, with the guidance coming on Wednesday covering the resumption of dine-in service at bars and restaurants, as well as barbershops and hair salons.

But even before the plan is released, Minnesota restaurants have been revealing their own plans for how reality might look after reopening, with the governor expected to include measures such as capacity restrictions to maintain social distancing.

Soul food eatery Milton's VVB in Crystal on Sunday posted its plans for "Phase 1" of reopening, the key feature of which is "patio only" dining, with tables separated by planter boxes that act as dividers – "think of rooms outside!"

There will also be sanitizing supplies available for diners, menus will be available by a mobile device, and reservations have limited seating time, up to 1.5 hours.

The patio-only model is also being considered in Stillwater, where the city proposed this week an ordinance that would allow restaurants to use parking lots and street parking spaces for patio seating for customers.

FOX 9 reports that the plans have been put forward in anticipation that the governor's guidance will likely include a 50 percent capacity restrictions.

But June 1 will come too soon for some restaurants, notably two-time James Beard Award winner Gavin Kaysen.

On Monday, his company Soigne Hospitality announced that his restaurants, Spoon & Stable in Minneapolis and Bellecour in Wayzata will not be ready to open for service on June 1.

"The health and safety of our employees and patrons continues to be our first priority, and we are actively planning and preparing for the new requirements of service that will allow us to open with confidence."

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The challenge of reopening under reduced capacity is one being considered by Minneapolis' Birchwood Cafe, whose owner Tracy Singleton noted on Twitter this week that it now comes with the added headache of sourcing and, crucially, paying for personal protective equipment, touchless technology, and health screening equipment such as thermometers.

She told the Business Journal this week that the federal loans aimed at supporting small businesses can cover employee wages, but not PPE and other equipment vital to reopening safely.

"We're a very low margin business to begin with," she told BMTN on Twitter. "For ours, we pay more for our locally sourced ingredients & higher wages since we eliminated tips. We're all looking atr evenues & costs to reopen (masks, thermometers, new software, touchless doors, etc. It's not good."

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