(The Center Square) – It’s been 19 days since the second forced closure of many businesses of 2020, and hospitality businesses are on the brink of bankruptcy if aid doesn’t come soon.
For JD Fratzke of Purpose Driven Restaurant Group in St. Paul, it’s the second time he’s been laid off this year.
“No one understands the importance of distancing, cleanliness, and sanitation in a public environment as well as we do,” Fratzke said in a video. “We’ve been practicing it as a matter of good business for decades. The science of this crisis is undeniable. We’re not asking to be given a pass on community health.
“What we are asking for is a fighting chance for restaurants to remain the seams that hold together the fabric of our communities,” Fratzke said.
“To be the people and places that provide fellowship, celebration, and common ground to the people of Minnesota. We want to be here to help and to heal — that’s all we want to do right now. That’s why we’re fighting for our Minnesota hospitality family,” he continued.
“We are running on fumes. When this is all over, we want to be here to provide the places of fellowship and flavor that will celebrate an end to these months of pain and madness,” Fratzke said.
“But Minnesota, without your help, we won’t be.”
Fratzke asked for a comprehensive aid package, including grants and interest-free loans to independent hospitality operations, tax holidays and extensions for businesses forced to shut down, and supplemental unemployment benefits to furloughed hospitality workers.
Fratzke is one of more than 30 people employed in the hospitality industry who made similar videos.
Over half of the state’s restaurants and 30% of its hotels face permanent closure, according to a recent Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank and Hospitality Minnesota survey.
The industry supports one in 10 jobs in the state but has hemorrhaged 80,000 jobs in 2020 with another projected 70,000 lost jobs without further aid, said Liz Rammer, president and CEO of Hospitality Minnesota.
“Through these stories we are hearing about how our state’s hospitality businesses have done everything the state asked and made tremendous sacrifices through being shut down twice to protect the public’s health,” Rammer said.
“They are at the breaking point and can’t wait any longer for help. For too many, the bills for rent, utilities, insurance, taxes and other obligations are overdue and they’ve run out of options. The state must act now to help save this industry and its 300,000 jobs.”
On Tuesday, Wayzata Brew Works announced its permanent closure, citing Gov. Tim Walz’s shutdowns and restrictions “during our most profitable part of the year” without a sustainable relief package.
“Until the governor and others making the decisions around shutdowns and restrictions are personally financially affected by those decisions, those decisions will continue to cause unnecessary financial hardship,” the company said.
House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said it is “her sincere hope” something will be ready to pass on Monday.
“We know Minnesota businesses are going through, for many of them, the toughest time in their entire existence,” Hortman said Tuesday. “And we know families are hanging on.”
Hortman said they need federal action.
“The level of need that our businesses have, the level of need that workers have, can only be met in any significant way with the resources of the federal government,” Hortman said.
Lawmakers are met Wednesday evening to discuss further details, and there’s a Senate hearing about the package on Thursday.