Prior Lake restaurant owner is ready to open, but needs to know when

A Prior Lake restaurant is waiting for the go-ahead to open. In the meantime, they have put into place strict procedures to ensure safety.

Leaders from the state’s hospitality industry say they’re working with Gov. Tim Walz to come up with available plan to hopefully open up resorts and restaurants again, but owners say they need to know an opening date now or many of them will go under for good.

Businesses say June 1 is a make-or-break timeframe for salvaging their businesses during the busy summer season.

Matthew Winter, co-owner of Plate on Main in Prior Lake, is anxious to reopen his restaurant soon.

“We need a date. Urgency is here,” he said. “Every single day the industry is closed down someone is going to close.”  

Winter says, although his loyal customers have been supportive of buying take-out food and drinks in order to keep his nearly 2-year restaurant open, he needs dine-in customers.

“The restaurant industry as a whole in Minnesota provides 20 percent of the sales tax revenue and that’s a lot of things that are not going to be supported if this industry doesn’t exist anymore,” he said.

Monday, Gov. Walz invited the CEO of the popular Afro Deli Restaurant Group as well as the head of the trade association Hospitality Minnesota to discuss the devastating effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on their industries.

Although an exact date has not yet been announced, contingency plans seem to be in the works to start re-opening some of these businesses slowly, but a timeframe needs to be laid out so planning can start.

“There’s a considerable amount of an expense that’s going to have to go into this and people need the confidence that this is going to happen and this is going to go forward,” Winter added.

Winter says he would need about a week to get ready to open, but food and drink vendors might take longer to get fired back up and running. He and his team have drafted a social contract for customers that details cleaning, mask-wearing and other mitigation efforts the restaurant will provide.

Winter says even opening at 25 percent is better than nothing.

“Very strict procedures,” he said. “We would go down to reservations only. We already do it in here. We would think about the best possible ways to have folks outside the restaurant so people can social distance there.”