After a 13-year run, Excelsior Irish restaurant Jake O’Connor’s closed at the end of June.
Owner Dermot Cowley said the restaurant had “run its course” on the city’s quaint Water Street.
“There are a lot of challenges going on in the restaurant industry and it just felt like, you know what, it was probably the right time to let it go,” Cowley said.
A restaurant boom in Excelsior was one of the factors in the closing. “There are an increasing number of restaurants, and nothing really changed in terms of infrastructure,” such as parking, Cowley explained.
“It used to be on a Friday night, we’d fill up at 7, and somebody would come in for a table and would have a drink and wait 40 minutes to be seated,” he said. “Now they can go up the street and don’t come back.”
A labor shortage and rising labor costs were other reasons, said Cowley, who also owns O’Donovan’s and McKinney Roe in Minneapolis and Lola’s Lakehouse in Waconia. Jake O’Connor’s staffers were offered jobs at those locations, Cowley said.
There are no plans to close his other establishments, he said, “but we are evaluating everything in the restaurant world. It’s definitely a crazy time in our industry.”
Earlier this year, he rebranded McKinney Roe, downscaling it from fine dining to an Irish pub, to appeal to residents of the neighborhood near U.S. Bank Stadium.
Supermarkets, food trucks, taprooms and other faster food options are steering away customers from his restaurants, Cowley said.
“We have to figure out a way to adapt to keep ourselves relevant in this,” he said. “I wish I could say I knew the answers.”