Restaurant owners: Vaccine or test mandate means night and day difference in business for Twin Cities vs. suburbs

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The Twin Cities vaccine or test mandate was rolled out about two weeks ago and some restaurateurs said it was driving customers away.

Some restaurant owners who have businesses in the Twin Cities and suburbs said they were seeing night and day differences in foot traffic – and that the vaccine or testing mandate was to blame.

“Unfortunately, when the vaccine or testing mandate went into effect, we saw a 30% drop in our Minneapolis sites overnight,” said Luke Derheim, co-owner of Craft and Crew Hospitality.

Derheim said dealing with a drop in customers and sales has become second nature in the pandemic.

“It seems like every week there’s something new,” he said.

The hotel group has two restaurants in Minneapolis and the others are in the western suburbs.

He said foot traffic was steady at Craft and Crew businesses outside of the Twin Cities and there was an increase at “The Block” in St. Louis Park.

“I think a lot of people want to come to St. Louis Park, Minnetonka and Hopkins because there’s less regulation whether they’re vaccinated or not,” Derheim said.

Bunny’s Bar and Grill is experiencing a similar trend.

“With the warrant in particular, business is down 30 to 40 percent,” said Jason Rackner, assistant general manager of Bunny’s Bar and Grill.

The bar’s northeast Minneapolis location is seeing a sharp drop in patrons, but the St. Louis Park location rarely sees open seats.

“It was incredibly difficult. I think everyone is so exhausted from the covid mandates,” Rackner said.

He said the vaccine or test mandate is another blow to the restaurant industry.

“Throw us a bone, let us have our outdoor terrace in the summer. We need all the help we can get,” Rackner said.

As of now, the mandates in both cities will be in effect until the end of February, unless renewed or revoked.

“While we are not yet out of this pandemic, I am encouraged by the declining positivity rates,” St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said in a statement. “I hope to lift these requirements as soon as possible.”

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has also contacted the City of Minneapolis, but we have yet to hear back.

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