Award-winning Twin Cities chef Gavin Kaysen is among those calling for Gov. Tim Walz and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey to take swift action to soften the blow of the coronavirus shutdown on restaurants.
Restaurant businesses and their employees are among those who stand to lose out the most from the pandemic, with Gov. Walz enacting a temporary shutdown of all entertainment venues as of Tuesday evening.
Some restaurants are closing altogether, with employees becoming eligible for unemployment benefits that will cover half of their previous salary for up to half-a-year, which is being made available immediately by Gov. Walz (more info on applying here).
But other restaurants are transitioning to takeout and delivery operations, which are not prohibited under the governor's executive order, in order to stay afloat, among them Kaysen's celebrated Minneapolis restaurant, Spoon and Stable, which is launching a to-go menu from Wednesday.
The two-time James Beard Award winner says that more help is needed from Minnesota leaders, and has backed the state following the example of New York, where restaurants can now sell alcoholic drinks for takeout and delivery provided it's sold alongside food.
In a tweet earlier this week, Kaysen said that the amount of liquor and wine inventory that it can no longer sell is enough alone "to close us," unless they can either sell it or return it to the supplier and get their money back in the process.
Also supporting the move is Kim Bartmann, whose restaurant group owns eateries including Barbette, Red Stag Supperclub and the Tiny Diner.
She also challenged Gov. Walz to make the same alcohol allowance for Minnesota restaurants, shortly after tweeting that the upcoming shutdown meant she had to lay off 189 workers on Monday.
Kaysen also asked for more immediate financial help for restaurants, posting a video on his Instagram page in which he asked Walz and Frey to give them immediate relief from sales and use tax.
"An immediate step that the state and the city could take to provide relief to restaurants is to allow restaurants to keep their sales and use tax, which is otherwise due this Thursday, March 20.
"That money could be more effectively deployed to help restaurants and their employees stay afloat."