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Bars prepare for another closure

Staff photo by Fritz Busch B & L Bar owner Rick Kamm waits on customers in downtown New Ulm Friday afternoon. After being closed for several months, the bar opened Wednesday, the day Gov. Tim Walz ordered bars and restaurants to discontinue sit-down service for four weeks, after Friday, Nov. 20.

BROWN COUNTY — B & L Bar owner Rick Kamm said his establishment’s brief re-opening this week was a success even though it only lasted three days and nights.

After more than four months of closure, the B & L opened Wednesday, only to be forced to close again Friday night after Gov. Tim Walz announced Wednesday night that bars and restaurants must stop indoor service for four weeks after Friday, Nov. 20.

Fitness centers and other entertainment sites will also be closed in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“People were real receptive Wednesday. They were real anxious to get back,” said Kamm. “We obeyed all the rules and things were good. Thursday was a good night too. People were appreciative and we are real appreciative of them.”

Kamm said he took lots of reservations for Friday night including people from Sleepy Eye and Truman.

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt The lunch crowd at Rodney’s Tavern in New Ulm enjoyed one last meal before the bar closes down under the latest state order. Business has been good the last few days, said owner Rodney Zimmer.

“I appreciate all the community support,” said Kamm.

Searles Bar & Grill invited patrons to help them empty their kegs with a tap beer discount and steak fry. Grilled pork chops and grilled or deep fried shrimp were also prepared Friday.

“The Governor has spoken,” reads the Searles Bar & Grill Facebook site. “Please call for your meals or come in to see us. We need your business to be able to survive another shutdown. We will be closed Saturday and Sunday to devise our take out menu and hours of operation.”

Searles Bar & Grill will continue with homemade soups. Freezer meals will be added. Desserts, including pies for pre-orders or items such as rolls will be posted when they are made.

The Lamplighter Restaurant and Lounge posted it will return to take out and curbside only starting Saturday.

“We want to thank our staff for sticking it out through these crazy months. We want to thank our customers for their support,” read the post. “Please don’t forget about us. Pay us a quick, masked visit.”

On Friday, the Lamplighter offered second tap beers for one cent after buying one at the regular price.

“Keeping all businesses in our prayers. Hoping they can withstand the governmental control and recover from their forced closures,” read a Facebook post.

Sleepy Eye Brewing Co. posted that due to increased demand, it is expanding its delivery circle on Sunday to include New Prague, Jordan, Prior Lake, Savage, Shakopee, and Chaska.

The company released a new beer Saturday. It continues to offer pickup and delivery.

For some, this new round of shut downs was expected and they were able to prepare. Sozial will go back to curbside and carry-out orders. Owner Jeff Overby said, “Unfortunately this is nothing new. We’re just doing it again. It could be worse.”

The hours of operation will be a little different. Sozial will be open for take-out 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, but will be closed Sundays and Mondays.

Rodney Zimmer, owner of Rodney’s Tavern, posted Facebook videos in the lead-up to the shutdown, encouraging patrons to dine at his bar one more time before the shutdown.

“I want to thank those who ordered food from us,” Zimmer said. He encouraged patrons to visit other local bars and restaurants before close as one last economic push.

The Friday lunch rush at Rodney’s was full. Many people wanted to eat there one more time before the executive order went into effect. Several guests, including Kyle and Franz Marti, cited the Facebook video as the reason for their visit.

“The community has been very generous,” Zimmer said. “That last few days were very busy.” Asked if he was concerned about the close, Zimmer said he was more tired than concerned. “I feel no rage, no anger and I am not worried, I am just exhausted,” Zimmer said in response to the latest shutdown.

Brent “The Zooman” Mielke of Dungeon’s Gym in Sleepy Eye weighed in on the situation with a Facebook post.

“I feel like we just locked the gym down. Now by the order of the Governor from the Great State of Minnesota, we are required to lock up until he says come back and play,” he posted. “A sad day for all gyms in our state. To all the gyms out there, hang tough my friends. To all the members, we need your support now more than ever. Buy those gift certificates and use them later. Sign up for virtual training starting Nov. 30. We don’t know how long this will last.”

Mielke posted that he started Dungeon’s Gym in 1981 but 2020 is the toughest year.

“Thanks everyone for your support and encouragement. Don’t let the pandemic stop your workouts. Staying healthy is important. I will rent equipment that you need,” he posted.

Dungeon’s Gym at Main Street and Second Ave. N.W. in Sleepy Eye hosts its 15th annual Turkey Trot for runners, joggers and walkers at 8 a.m. Thanksgiving Day. Fees are $10 and a non-perishable food item.

On Friday, U.S. Rep. Angie Craig of Eagan spoke of the urgent need for a bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill supporting small businesses, with targeted aid to restaurants and venues hit hard by the pandemic.

“Nearly eight months ago, our lives changed drastically due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With cases surging across the country, the risk of devastation to our small businesses is significantly increasing,” said Craig. “Main Street businesses are the backbone of local economies. They bring value to our communities and to our lives. We must act with urgency to support these most impacted by the pandemic.”

(Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).

(Clay Schuldt contributed to this article)

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