Grandma’s restaurant will close its doors on Minneapolis’ west bank

by Joy Petersen

Server and bartender Whitney Peterson said she knew her employer, Grandma’s Saloon and Grill, had been purchased last year.

The political science junior said the company was leasing the location from the buyer for as long as corporate headquarters would allow.

However, when she attended a mandatory staff meeting on Sunday and heard the restaurant, a West Bank neighborhood staple, would be closing May 22, she was surprised, she said.

“It was pretty short notice,” she said.

Alatus Management, a Minneapolis-based developing company, purchased the building a year and a half ago. After spending 27 years in its current location, it was the decision of Grandma’s corporate office to close the restaurant at the beginning of this summer.

Alatus was unable to be reached for comment.

Peterson said she is disappointed that the restaurant is closing because she is finishing finals and now has to find another job.

While she said she will stay in the hospitality industry, she said her experience at Grandma’s won’t help.

“A lot of places want you to start hosting or bussing first even if you have had experience,” she said. “And I don’t think most of us want to start making less than we were.”

Hal Holmes, the restaurant’s general manager of 10 years, said he’s going to work long hours until the closing date to help his workers.

“The longer we stay open, the better it is for our staff,” he said. “They’ve got four weeks to make as much money as they can.”

While Peterson said she remembers the restaurant’s patio packed in the summertime, Holmes said the summer close isn’t hasty because the business isn’t as lucrative as in the fall.

“When you have 60,000 students and all the sudden half of them aren’t here anymore, summer’s our slowest time,” he said.

The president of Grandma’s Corporation, Brian Daugherty, said legislation like the smoking ban has deteriorated the state of hospitality jobs in Minneapolis.

Daugherty also said the biggest factor affecting the industry is not allowing servers’ tips to be considered income. If tips were considered income, Daugherty said it would allow restaurants to keep costs low for customers.

Daugherty said he is lobbying for change, which he feels will boost the hospitality industry’s income after its decline in recent years.

For now, Peterson said she and her co-workers hope to stay together despite the close.

“We’ve already talked about just picking a place and saying we’re going to meet there the first Tuesday of every month, or something like that, so we can see each other,” she said.