Between dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and being hemmed in by seemingly endless downtown construction, the Med City’s Rocket Restaurant Group owners have decided that it’s the end of the line for The Loop in downtown Rochester.
After eight years at 318 1st Ave. SW, The Loop served its last meals and drinks on Monday night, and it will not open again on Tuesday. About 25 employees worked there.
“Of course, COVID is a big part of this. But downtown Rochester has just become a construction zone. People don’t want to go down there. There are orange barrels and wrong signs everywhere,” said co-owner Ryan Brevig. “Downtown is not good right now, and I don’t think it will be again for quite some time.”
The Rocket Restaurant Group is owned by Brevig, Josh Paulsen, Todd Jensen, Derek Link and Jonathan Buck. The original four, all 1997 John Marshall High School graduates, opened The Loop on the street level of the 318 Commons complex in 2012.
“We had a great run … In 2012, downtown Rochester was vibrant, energetic. It was a lot of fun,” Brevig said.
Unfortunately, this is not the first closure for the Rocket Restaurant Group during this difficult summer. On June 17, they closed the 507 Bar in downtown Minneapolis due to the pandemic and issues with police protection in the wake of the riots.
“It stings. Five weeks ago, we had six locations. As of tonight (July 27), we have four,” he said.
The closing of The Loop will hopefully lessen the strain on Rocket’s other two Northwest Rochester restaurants: Five West Kitchen and Bar and the still-new Smoak BBQ. They still own the original The Loop in Minneapolis and the The Loop West End in St. Louis Park.
“We’re not leaving Rochester. Not at all. Sometime in the future, maybe we’ll be able go back downtown,” Brevig said. “Right now, I do fear downtown is going to lose its local downtown operators one by one ... and that’s sad.”
Jeff Kiger tracks business action in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota every day in "Heard on the Street." Send tips to email@example.com or via Twitter to @whereskiger. You can call him at 507-285-7798.