As other restaurants and bars are reopening for 50 percent capacity indoor dining, a popular downtown Rochester spot remained dark on Monday.
Tory Runkle, the owner of Dooley’s Pub at 255 1st Ave SW in the city-owned Minnesota Biobusiness Center, said it didn’t make financial sense to reopen at this time.
“We cannot make a profit in our current status without late night and the dance floor, especially with the negative publicity lately and the current status of downtown,” Runkle wrote.
Under the loosened state rules, all restaurants and bars must close indoor dining at 10 p.m. When that restriction was first announced in November, the Dooleys owner expressed some concern about it.
“It’s going to be a hit again, but there is nothing we can do about it … Obviously, this will affect income once again. You’ll see more bar closures, I’m guessing. Hopefully I’m not one of them,” Runkle said in November.
Dooleys faced some backlash in 2020 related to its safety protocols. Olmsted County Public Health closed the bar for 72 hours in September due concerns that guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 were not being followed. The county did lift the suspension stating that, “Dooley’s management has really stepped up and demonstrated significant changes that will be implemented and enforced.”
Runkle had previously closed the bar twice due to concerns about COVID-19 infection.
Like many in the hospitality industry, the Dooley's owner has been frustrated by the changing rules that some consider benefit Big Box retailers over small, local businesses. On Monday, he wasn’t very optimistic about his bar’s future.
“Knowing that you can only get COVID at bars, I feel it’s best for the City of Rochester, if I remain closed for now…,” he wrote. “Looking at my options for the future, but the city seems unreasonable about helping.”
Dooley's has operated in downtown Rochester since 2010, though the Dooley's name has a much longer history in the Med City, dating back to when Tom Murphy opened Dooley's Lounge in 1980.
This comes a week after Legends Bar and Grill, another bar that leases space in a city-owned building, announced that it would not be reopening. The city notified Legends that it would not be renewing its lease to clear the way for possible redevelopment of the area along the Zumbro River.