Group appeals to lawmakers to help Northland restaurants

"It is impractical to think restaurants in the Duluth area, or the North Shore of Lake Superior, will benefit from outdoor dining in June." — Duluth Local Restaurant Association

outdoor dining
People enjoy dining on the bridge over the Lakewalk at the Fitger's Complex in Duluth on Aug. 1, 2014. (File / News Tribune)

The Duluth Local Restaurant Association made an appeal via email Tuesday to state representatives, making the point that it's too cold in the Northland for outdoor dining in June.

The email from Tony Bronson, association president and director of business development at Grandma's Restaurant Co., expressed an "urgent and immediate need" for restaurants that employ thousands of workers and support the hospitality supply chain. It was sent to state Sens. Tom Bakk and Erik Simonson; state Reps. Mary Murphy, Jennifer Schultz and Liz Olson; and also shared with the News Tribune.

Lawmakers were urged to ask Gov. Tim Walz to adjust his executive order and remove the limit on restaurants reopening June 1 only if they have outdoor dining.

"After the Governor’s extension of the closure last week and indication we could reopen in some capacity on June 1st, we feel the Governor has made a unfortunate error that will cost jobs and ultimately put many of our businesses in great peril," the email said.

The restaurant association suggests that indoor dining can be done safely with extra sanitation precautions. As a second request, the association seeks adjustments to the governor's guidelines regarding the Paycheck Protection Program, arguing that it currently leaves few options.


"We call on our state leaders to create additional programs to help struggling independent restaurants. If the Governor will not allow us to reopen our indoor dining areas, we need the state’s financial assistance in the form of operational grants that will help us pay leases, mortgages, utilities, and other costs of doing business. We desperately need this help now," the email said.

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