The Black Hart in St. Paul will remain closed until Jan. 2, even if Gov. Tim Walz decides not to extend an executive order that prohibits in-person service at bars and restaurants until Dec. 18.
"The lack of clarity around potential reopening dates poses challenges, especially around the holidays. We have decided to reopen on Saturday, Jan. 2 (assuming the lockdown has been lifted)," the bar said in a tweet on Monday.
In the meantime, the bar will have one more night of Curbside Drag from 5-9 p.m. Dec. 18 and will be open from 5-8 p.m. on New Year's Eve for takeout beer, wine and champagne.
The Black Hart called the shutdown a "necessary frustration," noting they want everyone to be safe. Adding, "When we're in the middle of the worst part of a global pandemic, it means a lot of sacrifice."
The bar's owner, Wes Burdine, has been outspoken in support of the need for COVID-related restrictions on businesses, gaining attention for a Twitter thread in November that criticized Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, and other Republicans throwing "hissy fits" about mask mandates and other government-ordered restrictions while hosting events possibly linked to the spread of the virus.
Although he's supportive of the pandemic-related shutdowns – he's said on Twitter the pandemic is keeping people from going to bars, not the governor's orders – he has criticized the governor for his last-minute announcements on restrictions, which makes it difficult for establishments to plan for staffing and inventory.
Gov. Walz is expected to announce on Wednesday whether the four-week "pause" will be extended beyond Dec. 18. He previously was going to make the announcement on Friday and then Monday before pushing it to Wednesday.
It comes as lawmakers meet for a special session Monday to discuss a relief package for COVID-hit businesses and workers.
Burdine's attitude toward the government-ordered shutdowns is vastly different from the more than 150 bars and restaurants across the state that plan to reopen prior to Dec. 18 in defiance of the governor's order (some have already reopened and have been fined or have had their liquor license suspended). Burdine has criticized those establishments, too.
"How many of these companies [expletive] about the Walz and the lockdown are taking county and city grants? Just got notification we got a small grant from the city and the fact that local government is helping keep us from having to sell to a developer is awesome," he tweeted on Dec. 9.
The Black Hart noted that it is grateful for the City of St. Paul and Ramsey County "that have done such great jobs of helping keep us afloat" and for supporters who have bought T-shirts or otherwise supported the bar. The bar notes those who are interested can contribute to a holiday tip pool for its bartenders by sending contributions to email@example.com on PayPal.