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Restaurants and Bars open for outdoor service

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DULUTH, MN -- Starting Monday, Minnesota's bars and restaurants can re-open to diners as long as they're served outdoors and at tables 6 feet apart.

One restaurant that opened up its patio is The Boat Club at Fitger's.

Owner Jason Vincent said they are prepared to serve customers in accordance with Governor Walz's plan.

"We have our COVID-19 preparedness plan. We all have our PPE. We have sanitation rules in place we also have social distancing, our tables are 6 feet apart," Vincent said.

Customers who dine-in at The Boat Club are also asked to comply with safety precautions.

"We are recommending that our customers wear a mask, it is not a requirement at this point," Vincent said.

However, some restaurants and bars have decided to wait until they re-open.

Bent Paddle in Duluth is one of them.

Pepin Young, a Taproom Director at Bent Paddle, said they aren't opening their doors until June 9th.

He said their business has managed to do better than most during the pandemic and doesn't want to cut into the sales of those who've struggled more.

"We rely on our partners in order to do our broader business and we thought it would be a nice gesture to allow space for others to create plans and re-open," Young said.

A gesture appreciated by restaurants like The Boat Club who have lost money during this time.

"We are down 80 percent in our business, we have lost well over half a million dollars," Vincent said.

Rural restaurants are facing their own outdoor dining challenges.

Owner of the Fall Inn Bar and Grill in rural Duluth, Jayme Heim said they did "okay" but financially they struggled with offering takeout only.

She credited the success they did see to a strong sense of community in rural areas.

Heim said she's excited to be back open to outdoor diners and knows her customers are too.

"We've had a number of responses, I posted on Facebook that we were going to be open, and a lot of our customers have said 'yup were going to be there,' and we actually had people here waiting at five (minutes) to 11 a.m. for us to open," said Heim.

Heim added, since they're located in a wooded area with very little traffic, the outdoor seating will still be a relaxed setting for customers.

Right now, their hours for the bar and dining run from 11 a.m. until dark.

While things are still far from normal, restaurants and bars are happy to be serving their loyal customers once again.

John Cardinale

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