More Minnesota restaurants announce permanent closures

A sign on a building reads "Pazzaluna"
The owners of Pazzaluna, a longtime Italian restaurant and bar in downtown St. Paul, announced on their website on Saturday that the restaurant will not reopen.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

While restaurants across Minnesota await the chance to resume some dine-in operations, a growing list of restaurants in the state say they won't reopen, even after COVID-19 business restrictions are lifted.

Among the permanent closures announced in the past couple days: Pazzaluna Urban Italian Restaurant and Bar in downtown St. Paul, and the Bonfire chain with locations in the Twin Cities and Mankato.

Pazzaluna, located on the corner of Fifth and St. Peter streets, had opened in 1998. It will officially close on May 31.

"Irrespective of when restrictions are lifted, we are not confident in the immediate return of customers who are worried about their health and family members," Richard Dobransky, president of restaurant owner Morrissey Hospitality, said in a statement posted online. "Pazzaluna was created for our customers to enjoy each other's company in a sharing, vibrant atmosphere."

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Morrissey Hospitality said it's "reimagining new possibilities for the location and investigating new opportunities for the Pazzaluna brand in the future and in new locations."

They're providing severance to all employees and working to find other job opportunities for those employees. Gift cards for the restaurant can be used at other Morrissey Hospitality restaurants, or will be refunded.

Bonfire had locations in Woodbury, Blaine, Eagan, Savage and Mankato. In a statement posted on its website, the owners said "we have tried our best to navigate this uncharted territory. We have explored multiple paths to emerge triumphant at the end of this pandemic, but there’s just no way for us to support the financial weight of our company and the building we call home. We were already walking a fine line before COVID-19 and given that no one knows how long the impacts of this pandemic will last, or what the new normal will be, we do not see a viable path forward."

The owners said gift cards from Bonfire can be used at Axels restaurants in Chanhassen, Mendota and Roseville.

Among other restaurant and venue closures, the owners of the Wabasha Street Caves in St. Paul said they'll close later this year, in the wake of tours and events being canceled.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that the historic underground event venue will close in November.

Dine-in restaurant service, bars, movie theaters and other public venues across the state were closed or halted in March, as part of an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. Since then, restaurants have had the option of continuing takeout and delivery service.

The latest closures follow in the wake of others in the past few weeks. Highly regarded The Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis previously said it won't reopen, and Twin Cities mainstays Izzy's Ice Cream and El Burrito Mercado have each closed one of multiple locations. Longtime South Minneapolis bar and restaurant Muddy Waters closed in early May.

But other restaurants are gearing up for the day they can reopen to more than takeout and delivery service — though some are worried about finding enough staff to resume operations.