About two dozen of Muddy Waters’ regulars gathered on the sidewalk outside the bar and restaurant on Sunday afternoon to see familiar faces and place a final order.
Co-owners Sarah Schrantz and Paddy Whelan decided to close the business, in Minneapolis’ Lyn-Lake neighborhood, for good, starting Monday.
Most of the customers on Sunday donned face masks and waved to one another, repeating again and again how much they wished they could offer a hug.
A couple hundred people came by throughout the day and by evening, most of the food and merchandise were sold out. Some lingered after their food came out, choosing to sit out front and swap memories of a favorite gathering place.
“This was a real melting pot,” said Khloe Larsdatter, a bartender for nine years. “You’d see two guys in business suits with beers sitting next to punk rockers. It brought people together.”
The restaurant moved to its location at 2933 S. Lyndale Av. in 2011. It has been offering takeout service under Gov. Tim Walz’s stay-at-home order.
The news comes soon after the Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis and Izzy’s Ice Cream’s original location in St. Paul announced they are closing.
Schrantz said the closure was “one of countless costs” of the COVID-19 pandemic, but she supported Walz’s orders.
“In context, shutting down was the definition of compassion from the people of Minnesota,” she wrote in an e-mail. “It was right.”
Carissa Courdray, who spent 20 years working in various roles, said the hardest part was realizing that she was losing the physical space where she grieved and celebrated most of her major milestones.
“But we all know that it’s still a home for us, it just won’t be brick and mortar anymore,” she said.
A.C. Flynn and Amy Jones were regulars after moving to Uptown.
“It’ll be hard to find this special culture in another place again,” Flynn said as she waited to pick up her food Sunday. “But it’s so great to see it come together one more time.”
Hundreds of customers have turned to social media to share stories of what Muddy Waters meant to them, even of some of the weirdest things they witnessed there. Schrantz and Whelan said in a social media post that those memories and messages are what customers can provide them during a difficult time.
In an e-mail to the Star Tribune, Schrantz wrote: “Our guests, for thirty years, have been our beating heart. They have made us. Inspired us. [They are] so compassionate. So generous. So willing to do right. We are honored to go out like this, and wistfully swan dive into the tsunami of COVID losses.”
Staff writer Kim Hyatt contributed to this report.