Caledonia restaurant owners embracing relaxed COVID-19 restrictions

Owners of Good Times in Caledonia 'happy to be open' to 50 percent capacity after year of shutdowns
Good Times Caledonia

CALEDONIA, Minn. (WKBT) – According to the National Restaurant Association, more than 110,000 bars and restaurants nationwide closed permanently or long-term last year. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz loosened restrictions last week allowing bars and restaurants to open at 50 percent capacity or up to 150 people.

Small towns have places where time is spent.

“I love it. It doesn’t feel like a job,” Sarah Glasrud said, co-owner of Good Times in Caledonia.

This restaurant is a place where good times are had. Glasrud started working here and now she owns it herself. She said it is hard to find an abundance of good in the past year for her restaurant.

“Crazy,” she said.

Scientists and doctors try to combat a unique virus, while people like Sarah are caught on the wrong side of the restrictions.

“… was frustrating for everybody,” Glasrud said. “We’re open, then we’re closed.”

We spoke to co-owner Eric Lee about a month ago when tensions over COVID-19 guidelines could be sliced with a steak knife. The Minnesota health rules were not something Sarah wanted to follow.

“They’re talking about the Twin Cities area or they’re talking about big cities. This is rural Minnesota.”

These rules cost their business $300,000 over the past year. Glasrud and Lee said they cut their salaries to avoid layoffs and keep their team intact.

“That was probably a big part of why we’re still here,” Glasrud said.

The food they could not sell was given to people in the community.

“I would rather donate it to somebody than to have to throw it away,” she said.

They also provided more than 400 Thanksgiving meals for a church in Spring Grove.

“It’s just, it’s goodwill,” she said.

Glasrud chose to create good outcomes from a time she would soon like to forget.

“Now, we’re just glad to be open,” she said.

The situation remains far from perfect, but she said 50 percent is better than zero.

“Today (Tuesday) is our second day open at 50 percent,”

There were stretches where their chairs were empty but the community still showed up.

“It means a lot because it would be so easy to order fast food or cook at home more,” she said.

This place offers something that’s essential to its customers, a place where good friends, share good food, and share a moment that is in fact a good time.

“We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them,” Glasrud said.

Glasrud said it doesn’t pay to fight COVID-19 guidelines. She asks customers to follow the rules so they can remain open.