Pandemic shakes up business model, forces restaurants to change how they serve customers

Local restaurant and bars owners are making changes after the pandemic shook up business models, forcing restaurants to change how they serve customers.

If you drive by Crave in St. Louis Park, you may see what some call snow globes or their own personal bubble.

"We’ve really seen our customers just continually come back and ask us to bring out the igloos," Robert Burns, Crave’s director of marketing, said. "They’ve actually done so well and are such requested that we have them in four locations: Roseville, Woodbury, West End and Fargo."

The heated igloos at Crave started as an idea birthed by the pandemic to combat capacity caps, but now the company said they’re here to stay.

Crave officials said competition in the industry is heating up and the customer is in control.

"We’re definitely seeing the guest driving the market right now, but we are here and we are continuously trying to make guests more and more comfortable dining out," Burns said.

At Lawless Distilling Company, they’re shaking things up.

"We took drinks and we made syrups ourselves with a small company out in Hamill, Minnesota and we launched cocktail kits," Kirsten Karnitz, Lawless Distilling Company manager, said.

Taking drinks to-go is the new go-to.

When the pandemic hit, the company started crafting the cocktail kits for customers uncomfortable with dining in.

Another addition, a Christmas-themed pop-up bar to give customers a new experience.

"It’s really grown our spirits sales. We’ve had a really a lot of success of people trying our spirits in the kit and then buying them in the store," Karnitz said.

Now, it’s a permanent option on the menu.

Karnitz calls the success a silver lining in the pandemic.

"Just a lot of changes, but I think it’s good growth," she said.