The state recently sent warning letters to two Anoka County restaurants over violations of the requirements for reopening under Gov. Tim Walz’s June 5 executive order, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
Danno’s in Anoka and Route 47 Pub & Grub in Fridley were among the 14 establishments to receive letters, the department announced Monday, July 20.
Four warning letters went out June 26 for violations.
Then investigators conducted surveillance at 919 Minnesota bars and restaurants July 4-13. Investigators specifically looked for employees violating mask requirements, for tables spaced less than 6 feet apart and for establishments serving at more than 50% capacity.
Ten businesses with violations in all three areas during the two-week sweep received warning letters, the department said in a statement.
In addition to Danno’s and Route 47, the other 12 establishments receiving letters were Neisen’s Sports Bar in Savage, K & J Catering in North St Paul, Long Siding Bar & Grill in Princeton, CoV in Wayzata, Hoban Korean BBQ in Minneapolis, Pablo’s Mexican Restaurant in Shakopee, Arnie’s Friendly Folks Club in Shakopee, Princeton Speedway in Princeton, Rollie’s in Sauk Rapids, Breakfast Bar in Minneapolis, The Stadium in Annandale, and Cowboy Jacks in Minneapolis.
During the enforcement sweep, investigators also spent time educating establishments that violated one or two of the guidelines, the Department of Public Safety said. Violations can lead to fines or loss of a liquor license if not brought into compliance. Employees failing to wear masks was the most common violation.
Dan Sweeney, owner of Danno’s said he received a warning letter after a June incident when an employee pulled her mask under her chin to talk with customers and someone reported it.
“We took action immediately,” he said.
Sweeney said he called a meeting and became even more proactive.
Although he wished the reporting party had come directly to him with the problem, he said the report was fair.
“The last thing I want to do is bring (the virus) home or have any of my employees or customers get it,” he said. “I take it very seriously.”
Despite the challenges of operating a restaurant at half capacity (“On a good week I’m breaking even.”), Sweeney said he makes sure to stay below the 50% seating threshold, which is 65 people.
“We get to 55 and I start to get nervous, and I’m counting heads,” he said.
Alternating tables are blocked off to allow ample distance, and Danno’s is offering free masks and hand sanitizer to customers, Sweeney said.
“I wish more customers would wear them, honestly,” he added. “The employees do, but we’re not the only ones capable of carrying it.”
A representatives from Route 47 was not immediately available for comment.
The Department of Public Safety is also pleading with patrons of bars and restaurants to observe seating guidelines. Although the governor’s order limits seating to four people per table or six for immediate family members, establishments reported many customers moving tables or seats together for larger groups in one area, the department said.
“By educating establishments and the public, our hope is that it leads to better compliance,” Department of Public Safety Assistant Commissioner Booker Hodges said in a statement. “We can all do our part to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep our businesses open by wearing a mask, social distancing and adhering to establishment seating limits.”