Surly Beer Hall to close 'indefinitely' in November

Pandemics and beer halls just don't mix, Surly said.

Surly Brewing will be closing its destination beer hall in Minneapolis "indefinitely" on Nov. 2, it announced Wednesday.

The brewery said it had to make major health and safety changes following city, state, and federal guidance relating to COVID-19, but despite safety measures put in place, the pandemic has seen a huge drop in the number of people drinking and dining out.

"As we complied fully with the (COVID-19) safety measures, it became clear that beer halls are by definition gathering places and gathering places and pandemics don’t mix," Surly said in a statement. 

"We ran all the numbers. We looked at all the possibilities. But try as we might to find a way to keep the doors open and our team employed, the writing was on the wall: There was no longer a way forward for the beer hall," Surly added. 

Revenue at the beer hall is down 82% compared to the same time last year, Surly said, noting if it stayed open, it would lose "another three-quarters of a million dollars this winter." 

"As we close the doors of the beer hall, we’re still moving forward. We’ll adapt, change, pivot, and change again. Please support your local bars and restaurants as they face the tough times ahead," Surly said.

Tiffany Jackson of Surly told BMTN all of Surly's hospitality operations will close Nov. 2, including the beer hall, Surly Pizza Upstairs, the event center and retail store. 

Earlier this week, Surly said some of its employees informed the brewery of their intent to unionize. It claims this had no bearing on the decision to close, though admitted the timing of the announcement "is not ideal."

"We respect their decision to turn to an outside organization for representation and will continue the dialogue," Surly said. "That does not change the fact that our plans to close the Beer Hall were put in place weeks ago with the announcement planned for this week."

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Surly made the announcement of the indefinite closure now, ahead of the Nov. 2 closing, to be in compliance with the WARN Act, which requires large employers to provide at least a 60-day notice for any major operations closures, Jackson said. 

The union told BMTN Surly's decision to close is "illegal and disgusting."

Surly Brewing began in 2005 in an industrial park in Brooklyn Center. The brewery led the push to change Minnesota state law with the so-called Surly Bill, which allowed breweries to serve their beers onsite, paving the way for the craft beer boom in Minnesota and led Surly to start planning for its destination beer hall in Minneapolis. 

In 2014, Surly opened its 50,000 square foot facility, including a brewhouse, beer hall, beer garden, event center and restaurant, in Prospect Park.

BMTN has reached out to Surly Brewing for more information. 

Dozens of Twin Cities restaurants have closed during the pandemic, you can find a running list here.

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