Restaurant owners: Vaccine-or-test mandate means night and day difference in Twin Cities v. suburb business

The Twin Cities’ vaccine-or-test mandate rolled out around two weeks ago and some restaurant owners said it’s driving away customers.

Some restaurant owners who have businesses in the Twin Cities and the suburbs said they’re seeing night and day differences in foot traffic — and that the vaccine-or-test mandate is to blame.

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

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

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

The hospitality group owns two restaurants in Minneapolis and the rest are in the western suburbs.

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

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

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

“With the mandate especially, business is down anywhere between 30-40%,” Jason Rackner, Bunny’s Bar and Grill assistant general manager, said.

The bar’s northeast Minneapolis location is seeing a large dip in customers, but the St. Louis Park location rarely sees open seats.

“This has been incredibly challenging. I think everyone is so burnt out with covid mandates,” Rackner said.

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

“Throw us a bone, let us have our outdoor patio come summertime. 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As of now, the mandates in both cities will be in effect until the end of February, unless renewed or rescinded.

“While we aren’t out of this pandemic yet, I am encouraged by the decline in positivity rates,” said St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter in a statement. “I hope to lift these requirements sooner rather than later.”

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS also reached out to the city of Minneapolis, but we haven’t received a response yet.