Back to a bit of normal for restaurant and bar patrons in the Redwood area

Deb Moldaschel
Redwood Falls Gazette

Monday, Jan. 11, marked the first day restaurants and bars in Minnesota could once again serve customers inside, rather than rely on take-out service. Governor Tim Walz announced that expected change on Wednesday, Jan. 6.

With some help from Anne Johnson, Executive Director of Redwood Area Chamber & Tourism, the Gazette received comments from a few Redwood area establishment on their reaction and plans to return to  serving customers inside their facilities.

“It is just nice to be able to reopen again, even if at only 50 percent,” said Doug Lawrenz, manager of Pizza Ranch. “It has been very trying watching some businesses flourish during these difficult times. While watching the true dine-in restaurants struggle to keep their/our doors open and knowing very well  a lot of our favorite places might not make it through this.”

Lawrenz said the mask mandate needs to be enforced, along with guests practicing social distancing. 

“As much as we all dislike wearing masks, we as the restaurant industry can’t afford another shut down,” he said. “With all our standards of sanitizing and having gloves available for guests visiting the buffet, I am very confident in the safety of our guests and that of our employees.”

Lawrenz said they are very excited to have just finished their “Bake At Home” breakfast pizza special. 

“It was a huge success,” he said. “Plus for all those who enjoyed them, they are still available for the very affordable price of $7.99. We also have a  variety of most of our Medium pizzas available for “Bake At Home” with a slightly different price point.” 

Lawrenz said a lot of local organizations used their “Community Impact Nights” in the past and encouraged any organization looking for fundraising opportunities to ask about Pizza Ranch’s interesting and fun ways to raise money, even if they can't hold the traditional “Community Impact Nights” quite yet.

Lawrenz said they are in the preliminary stages of planning for a drive-up window. “We have noticed how much our guests liked the curbside pickup and feel having a pickup window will streamline the process and make the guest experience that much better.”

“We are so excited to have our guests back in our restaurant. We have missed their smiles and the conversations,” Lawrenz said. “We look forward to seeing all of you real soon.”

Cindy Kruger said they are really excited to have Duffy’s back open.  

The staff at Duffy’s was excited to welcome diners back inside Monday evening. Pictured seated at the table, clockwise from front left: Phyllis and Tom Balko and Wally and Marlene Schroer.  Standing: Duffy’s servers Amanda Magness and Brooke Dahmes; and co-owners Dan Sandeen and Cindy Kruger.

“We really wish it had come sooner,” said Kruger, co-owner of the restaurant. “This last shut down came at our busiest time of the year. Our staff could have used the money for Christmas with their families.  We do feel that we have been unfairly targeted during this pandemic.” 

But, happy to reopen, Kruger asked that everyone have patience as some items may not be back right away.

Kruger asked customers to please call for reservations during their busy hours and remember to wear a mask.  

“It is not our choice on some of these requests, but we do ask people to put aside politics and follow the rules so we can continue to stay open,” she said.

Kruger said during the shut down Duffy’s offered a lot of bundle meals and family meals that were cheaper than if bought separately because they knew a lot of people were under stress and busy. “We hoped that we could make it easier for them. We even came up with a few new dishes that have been a great hit with the customers.”

“The outpouring of support from our customers is really what kept most of us going,” [during the shut down] said Kruger. “We cannot thank them enough. We also have gotten a lot of support from the other local restaurants. We are all in this together!” 

Out at Grandview Valley Winery, Laura Rigge said the order to reopen was a step in the right direction, but wondered why Gov. Walz didn’t give more notice as she said it is extremely difficult to plan food ordering and staffing on short notice. 

Nevertheless, Grandview Valley Winery is ready to greet customers. “We can assure our customers that, like we always have, we go above and beyond cleaning and sanitizing recommendations and want all our customers and staff to stay healthy and feel comfortable with dine-in service,” said Rigge.

Asked about new promotion or other possible positives that came about due to the shut down, Rigge didn’t mince words.

“What could possibly be a positive of having a business shut down? Taxes, utilities, insurance payments, and license fees all still had to be paid, employees had to be furloughed, and our livelihood was jeopardized,” she said. “We are forever grateful and appreciative of all the customers who went out of their way to patronize our business by ordering take-out pizza and wine! So I guess I'd say: ‘like they always have been, our customers were the positive! They literally 'went out of their way to give us their business’.”

Going forward, Rigge said they have big expansion plans in the future—starting with a new wine production facility so they can increase their wine list and volume. 

“This new facility will give us the ability to remodel our current production room into more dining space,” said Rigge. “Our wheels are always turning, and even during a pandemic we are always dreaming up new ways to expand our business.”

Grandview Valley Winery hours are the same as before—they are open year round, Thursdays 3 to 9 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays noon to 6 p.m.