Minneapolis bar owners elated to see counter service restriction lifted

A bartender mixes a drink in Minneapolis. (FOX 9)

A restriction limiting sales at bars in Minneapolis, put in place over the summer to rising COVID-19 cases, has been lifted.

Mayor Jacob Frey announced the policy change this week, as the mayor noted COVID-19 cases have remained at low levels since the end of the second COVID-19 pause.

The change comes as some restaurants and bars are struggling to make it through to the other side of the pandemic.

At Tony Jaros River Garden, the main attraction is the signature "Greenie" cocktail. Now, employees no longer have to be green with envy that customers can belly up to the bar in neighboring communities.

"Awesome, it's great to be back," said bartender Marlo Thomas. "Everybody is smiling. It's hard to see behind the masks, but it's nice to see people again."

The northeast Minneapolis institution closed back in August after Mayor Jacob Frey issued an emergency regulation banning people from sitting, ordering or mingling in the bar areas of local watering holes, restaurants, and nightclubs to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. But due to the falling number of COVID-19 cases, the mayor lifted those restrictions, so the bar was able to re-open on Thursday.

The Smack Shack in downtown Minneapolis is only able to offer customers half the 36 barstools they did before the pandemic. But the general manager of the popular seafood restaurant says it's a step in the right direction.

"There's a large portion of people who prefer to dine at the bar," said Colin Stumbras. "That's something we've been missing and we're excited to get back to it."

Meanwhile, employees at Tony Jaros River Garden are grateful the restrictions didn't mean the last call for the bar and they hope they are back on the job for good.

"I hope we're on the mend," added Thomas. "I hope we are going to do great and welcome back."