Through changing restrictions on indoor dining throughout the last year, many local restaurant owners shifted primarily to a takeout business model to stay afloat.
Though the pandemic has been a hit to everyone in the hospitality industry to some extent, the impact was even more significant for those who rely on alcohol sales to stay in business.
Jordan restaurant owners pay a $3,500 liquor license renewal fee on March 15 of each year. Soon after that payment was due in 2020, statewide shutdowns began.
‘Cream off the top’
For Jesse Wilken, owner of the Pickled Pig Pub in Jordan, the turnaround time was one of the most difficult parts of the shutdown.
“We had just renewed it not knowing that this was all going to happen, and we were shut down for quite a few months after that, and then including the second shutdown as well,” Wilken said.
Randy Kaiser, owner of Clancy’s Bar & Pizza Parlor, said losses on liquor sales over the last year made it difficult to operate with food sales alone.
“That was the cream off the top,” Kaiser said.
At a Jan. 19 meeting, the Jordan City Council moved to rebate liquor license renewal fees for five Jordan restaurants in 2021.
The decision followed similar ones made by Prior Lake and other cities in Scott County, an attempt to help the restaurant industry stay afloat after heavy financial impact over the last year.
Gabe Lopez of Delia’s All-in-One Restaurant says it’s encouraging to know the city is doing everything in its control to help its local restaurants.
“The fact that the city was willing to assist local businesses with that just shows that the city is is doing what they can to help lift the burden that the businesses currently have,” Lopez said.
Wilken, who’s been vocal with council members about the idea of a rebate to help local businesses, said he’s happy with their move and feels it’s congruent with actions they’ve taken in the past.
“Jordan has always been a city that’s very pro-business and works hard to support the businesses in their city,” Wilken said. “So that was great to see that continued support and giving us a chance of continued success.”
In total, the fiscal impact is up to $17,500 for all five businesses. This will come out of the city’s general budget, but is projected to be “a one-time credit due to a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic,” according to the Jan. 19 agenda item.
Along with more vaccine roll-outs and decreasing case numbers, restaurant owners like Lopez, Wilken and Kaiser are hoping they’ll be able to get back on their feet in the near future.
“I think people are coming back, they want to come back,” Kaiser said. “Even if it’s a 50% that’s a good start to get people back in the door.”