Sunlight gleamed on Edelweiss Bakery’s doughnuts and pastries Tuesday as a steady stream of customers, most standing several feet apart, came by for what was the bakery’s last day open for at least a week and a half.
Several local restaurants and food shops switched to all take-out and delivery this week after an order from Gov. Tim Walz to try to limit the new coronavirus’s spread went into effect.
Edelweiss might have been able to do the same, co-owner Laurie Lin said, but she and her husband decided to close altogether. She worried about to-go customers filling the bakery’s small space, and helping to protect around 20 employees and the general public from a virus that usually spreads from nearby coughs was the top priority.
“We wish everyone well, and we want everybody to heed the warnings” from health officials, Lin said. “We’re trying to stay as upbeat as we can, but personally I feel sad.”
The temporary closure, which lasts until at least March 27, is uncharted territory, several food business owners said, and means financial losses for them and many of their employees. But they also said they understood the reasoning.
“Maybe this is what you need, short-term hurt for the long-term gain,” said David Fong Jr., whose family’s Chinese food restaurants in Savage, Prior Lake and Bloomington switched to carryout only, using the dining areas for the wait so customers can stay far apart. “I just hope it is short.”
Other food businesses’ decisions rolled out all week: The Prior Lake Veterans of Foreign Wars post closed except for Friday evening curbside fish fry, while the Dan Patch American Legion simply closed. Charlie’s on Prior, PLate, Buffalo Tap and Whiskey Inferno continued to-go orders.
At Boathouse Brothers Brewing Company, co-owner Emmett Swartout on Tuesday said he was working on a plan for deliveries to interested customers.
“It’ll probably just be me in my car, keeping the business alive,” he said. “We’ll still keep brewing and hopefully have full coolers ready to go for when the moratorium on fun ends.”
Food service closures alone will affect thousands of food workers around Scott County, based on recent census estimates. Swartout and Lin said they helped their employees get in touch with the state’s unemployment insurance program, which Walz sped up and opened to affected workers in another executive order.
Morgan Pieri, 24, an Edelweiss cashier, said she lives with her parents but has several hundred dollars in monthly student loan payments to worry about. She said Tuesday she was looking for odd jobs; some customers asked for her contact information to help, and she might paint with her dad.
“We’ll be back, but there’s nothing we can really do,” she said.
On the other hand, Fong said most of his servers will be able to switch to carryout-related work. D. Fong’s in Savage typically gets more takeout business than dine-in.
“So we’re prepared,” he said. “It’s still going to be a financial loss for us, but at least we can stay in operation.”
One older couple walking out the door of Edelweiss grumbled that the whole situation was ridiculous and overblown, but several customers at multiple businesses said they were eager to support them however possible.
Lin thanked everyone for their support and said the shop donated leftover food and supplies to the Community Action Partnership of Scott, Carver & Dakota Counties.
Deanna Contonikolas and Gayle Wright, who work near the bakery, said they came midday Tuesday for “one last hurrah” before the doors shut.
“I really worry about the people who do this kind of work,” Contonikolas said, adding the government should step in to help with wages and freeze loans. She supported shutdowns in general, though she wondered whether a small city like Prior Lake would need to be included.
“But we can’t make exceptions,” Wright said — the next day, the country reported its first known coronavirus case was a Prior Lake resident. “Hopefully it’s just for the couple weeks.”