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Duluth restaurant owners brace for second dining shutdown

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DULUTH, MN -- Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued new COVID-19 restrictions Wednesday, forcing restaurants to halt indoor and outdoor dining for the next four weeks.

Duluth Grill's Owner Tom Hanson is preparing for round two of the shutdown.

"I've kind of chosen that I would prefer breathing over the economy," he said. "The pandemic is real."

Hanson agrees with the governor's restrictions but is bracing for a long road ahead.

"I just don't believe that we'll be open on New Year's Eve, so we're planning for probably a two to three-month shutdown," Hanson said.

Grandma's Owner and Director of Business Development Tony Bronson said the take-out only model is not sustainable.

"Not all of us know that we're even going to be opening up again at the end of this," Bronson said. "There's no way to candy coat it. It's going to be a difficult time."

Bent Paddle Brewing Company Owner Laura Mullen also agrees with Walz's restrictions, but wants another round of financial support from the government.

"We can withstand this as a company and as an industry if there's help for the hospitality industry, and that does not seem to be in place for this shutdown," Mullen said.

Working in the restaurant business has never been easy, but Hanson said it has always been worth it.

"I think if we can continue having a community like Duluth and the Twin Ports that supports our business, we just have to say thank you and we appreciate it," he said.

Hanson and Bronson said buying gift cards is the best way the community can help.

Gift cards can be purchased from Duluth Grill and Grandma's Saloon & Grill.

Mullens is encouraging her customers to call Minnesota lawmakers such as Sen. Tina Smith, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and Rep. Pete Stauber to request more financial support for the hospitality industry.

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Kendall Jarboe

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