Capacity, distancing limits end overnight for Minnesota restaurants, bars

Dinner guests eat at Smack Shack in Minneapolis. (FOX 9)

As Minnesota removes indoor capacity and distancing limits, business owners and staff are excited to take another step closer to normal.

"It's awesome. How can you not be excited about something that we've been waiting for?" said Marlo Thomas, a bartender at Tony Jaros River Garden.

Business has been slow at Tony Jaros River Garden since the small bar in northeast Minneapolis reopened at the end of February, but Thomas believes that will change soon because more customers will be able to belly up to the bar.

"It would mean I wouldn't have to stand here and count my people that come in," said Thomas. "I wouldn't have to turn anybody away which has actually been a difficult thing to do."

The State of Minnesota is lifting all capacity limits and social distancing requirements for bars and restaurants at 11:59 p.m. Thursday. However, Smack Shack in downtown Minneapolis won't be adding a tidal wave of tables because the popular seafood spot doesn't have enough workers to serve them.

"It's disappointing that now that we can't take full advantage of this, we don't have the staff to execute it in the way we think we could give good service," said Josh Thoma, Smack Shack owner.

Thoma says after more than a year of staying home, there seems to be a growing appetite for people to go out to eat again. Thoma says guests are often splurging, ordering the most expensive items on the menu to treat themselves for making it through such a difficult time.

"A lot of people have used this term the 'Roaring 20's' and I think we'll experience that," said Thoma.

With COVID capacity limits almost over, Thomas is looking forward to saying cheers to summer.

"I'm glad it’s almost over," Thomas said. "It’s been a long, long, long year."

Other venues are also excited for the restrictions to end. First Avenue, which has been dark for over a year, announced its first couple of shows, including The Suburbs performing at the 7th Street Entry in early July.