Donna Fahs had been planning for this day, but was hoping it wouldn’t come. As of noon today, all 14 locations of the Parasole Restaurant Holdings will be shuttered until at least April 1.
“This is the saddest day of my life,” said Fahs, chief operating officer of the company that operates such well-known Twin Cities restaurants as Manny’s Steakhouse, Burger Jones, Prohibition, Salut Bar Americain and the Good Earth.
Gov. Tim Walz on Monday ordered a statewide shut down of dine-in restaurants along with bars, theaters, museums and other gathering places as a tactic to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which has been confirmed in 54 Minnesotans.
Parasole is one of the largest restaurant owners in the region. Its 1,100 workers will spend the rest of the week decommissioning operations, and will get their final paychecks on Monday.
“One of the tough questions asked when I had my conference call was, ‘Will everyone be hired back?’ ” Fahs said. “We don’t know. We can’t really make any guarantees to anybody, including managers. We’ll have to wait and see.”
The company will continue to pay health insurance premiums, Fahs said, and they’ve started talking to landlords and “asking for understanding.”
“Payroll taxes are due within the next week,” she said. “There’s rent coming due. These are all fixed costs that you have to pay.”
Staff at the Salut Bar Americain in Edina put on a business-as-usual face for the two dozen people who ventured out for a meal or cocktail Monday around 7 p.m. Only half a dozen tables were occupied during what usually would have been peak time. Doors closed an hour earlier, at 8 p.m.
Already, chefs at the company’s locations had been told to slash purchases by 60% and to eliminate unnecessary spending. A rash of sanitizing and safety measures had been instituted, including home quarantines of anyone who had recently traveled in the U.S. or abroad.
The work to close the restaurants will take several days. Food that can be salvaged will be frozen; perishables given to employees. All liquor will be locked up; cash in the safe will be deposited. The entire place will be cleaned and sanitized.
“We aren’t foolish,” Fahs said. “We were expecting this, especially when we knew other states were putting this into place. But this is the worst-case scenario.
“We’re trying to minimize losses the best we can,” she added, “but without any income it’s going to put a huge strain on our finances.”
Chino Latino in Uptown closed Monday afternoon, when Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Fry announced emergency shutdowns. The remainder of locations will close by noon Tuesday.
The coronavirus outbreak has created an additional layer of uncertainty for Parasole, which announced March 3 that it was being acquired by the Minneapolis-based private-equity partnership, FS Funds.
Fahs said it’s unclear how the shutdown will impact the deal.
“We have a sold sign on our house,” she said, “but we’re not sure of the closing.”