Pizza stock photo.

Savage-area restaurants are closing, retooling and opening for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic.

After closing its doors two months ago, Bonfire Restaurants won’t reopen, the owners announced on May 15. The decision includes restaurants in Savage, Eagan, Blaine and Woodbury, joining a growing list of establishments unable to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As you know, the future of hospitality is incredibly uncertain and over the past month, we have tried our best to navigate this uncharted territory,” the restaurant company shared in a Facebook post.

“We have explored multiple paths to emerge triumphant at the end of this pandemic, but there’s just no way for us to support the financial weight of our company and the building we call home.”

Another longtime south metro restaurant also announced its permanent closure. Vivo Kitchen in Apple Valley will shut its doors for good on May 24.

Other local restaurant owners hope to forge a path ahead with changes that keep customers and employees safe.

On Wednesday, Gov. Tim Walz announced restaurants and bars would be allowed to reopen on June 1 with only outdoor seating and limited patron numbers, among other measures.

Walz said bringing customers back inside to dine won’t happen in the next phase of reopening, but many restaurants have begun implementing changes in anticipation of safety guidelines. Savage’s Tin Shed Tavern plans to use plexiglass barriers and single-use menus, for example, after it reopens.

According to a reopening plan shared on the Tin Shed’s Facebook page, employees will be subject to temperature checks to screen for fevers, and various other measures will be put in place to keep customers safe.

Customers will be offered hand sanitizer upon arrival, and they’ll enter and exit through different sides of the restaurant to avoid people passing each other in the entryway.

Door handles, arcade games and candy machines will be sanitized hourly, and a sanitizer bucket will be available in the arcade room. Disposable plates, cups and silverware will be available upon request, the restaurant stated.

While the future of the service industry is unknown, a sign of hope appeared in Savage this week with the announcement of a new restaurant planned to open this fall.

The team behind Lake & Irving Restaurant & Bar in Minneapolis announced they’ll be serving curbside this summer out of the former Perkins restaurant space with plans for a new restaurant to be announced.

The “Lake & Irving Curbside Pop-Up” operation will serve dinner-for-two specials and other menu favorites from the Uptown restaurant this summer. The restaurant hasn’t yet announced an opening date for the curbside operation.

“Plus, later this fall, we’ll be opening a brand new concept in this space,” the restaurant stated on its website.

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